Importance of Network Monitoring


Network monitoring is a subject that has undergone extensive research during the past decade with the booming of the Information Technology and Computer science fields. With all the new websites hosted on web servers, company expansions, and global business, networks have grown significantly.

Of course, with the birth of any new technology, abusers of this technology are born. They need not be hackers or malicious intruders. Actually, they may as well be members of the legitimate group of network users but have used the network for causes other than those originally entailed by the owning company, organization or entity.

Moreover, apart from the misusage by legitimate users, and abuse of potential hackers, some servers can become inactive all of a sudden due to some activity or service running on the network. Otherwise, routers, services and servers may have unstable activity statuses that were not previously noted upon their installation in the first place. Users of the network will not be able to know for sure what has happened when they find their services running slow or not at all for that matter! This is what has come to be known as "downtime", and is in fact financially quite costly.

In order to be able to properly manage the network with all its constituent devices and connections, the network administrator must be able to monitor the entire network with all its activity.

This lead to the rise of the need for network administrators to be able to monitor what goes on the network, as well as the activity of the network servers, services and routers. Nowadays, this has indeed become the vital issue of the day in network technology.

Actually, there's more to it than just noting the level and type of activity flowing on the network. The statistics, generated from simply carefully monitoring the network, can be used by the company owners themselves. In fact, they can be used to base specific management level (sometimes strategic business decisions) on.

Digging into further depth within the subject, we will examine the common network constituents. A conventional company network would have most, if not all, of the following:
DNS Server (Domain Name System)
FTP Server (File Transfer Protocol)
Database Server (Oracle, MS SQL, MySQL, Sybase, etc.)
POP3 and SMTP Servers (Post Office Protocol or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
Firewalls
Internet connectivity (be it a leased line or DSL for example) - TCP/IP connection requests.

With all these different common constituents of a regular company network, the need for a centralized network monitoring management software tool to facilitate the life of for the network administrator has become essential. The network administrator is to be located somewhere and still capable of following up on the status of the network's many devices, services and activities.

Moreover, through network monitoring and management, security boundaries will be more difficult to breach which means higher security enforcement.

There are also other factors to be taken into consideration before your company decides on which software tool it is too purchase. For instance, the software tool must be able to handle and correlate between the different network events that occur from its different devices. Sometimes, such events take place almost simultaneously. The network administrator needs to be able to monitor this in a comprehensible fashion. Software tools such as Servers Alive provide you with this as well as other flexibility and powerful network monitoring functionalities.

In other cases, some companies would be thrilled to hear of a network monitoring tool that can actually audit and regulate various (company specified) risk assessment requirements. These assessment requirements would be recognized as variable inputs into the software hence further adding to the overall importance of network monitoring.

Another issue adding importance to network monitoring is the fact that many companies need to be able to look back at previous actions and activities handled over the network. This may be for auditing reasons, investigations of security breaches or even for roll back operations.

Monitoring software tools make it possible to save the activities and downtimes of network servers and devices in an easy to access and understand log format. Some software even classify the logs and log backups according to type of action they document.

References

Leonhardt, David. "Network Monitoring for Serious eCommerce".
http://www.dotcom-monitor.com

Centralized Security Monitoring & Reporting: The Importance of Consolidation, Correlation, and Detection. Prism Microsystems Inc. January 16, 2004.
http://itlibrary.itnetcentral.com/detail/RES/1074276849_653.html
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