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What Is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring provides the information that network administrators need to determine, in real time, whether a network is running optimally. With tools such as networking monitoring software, administrators can proactively identify deficiencies, optimize efficiency, and more.

What are network monitoring systems?

Network monitoring systems include software and hardware tools that can track various aspects of a network and its operation, such as traffic, bandwidth utilization, and uptime. These systems can detect devices and other elements that comprise or touch the network, as well as provide status updates.

Network administrators rely on network monitoring systems to help them quickly detect device or connection failures or issues such as traffic bottlenecks that limit data flow. These systems can alert administrators to issues via email or text and deliver reports via network analytics.

What are protocols for network monitoring?

Protocols are sets of rules and directions for devices on a network to communicate with one another. Network hardware can't transmit data without using protocols. Network monitoring systems use protocols to identify and report on network performance issues.

Key benefits of network monitoring

Clear visibility into the network

Through network monitoring, administrators can get a clear picture of all the connected devices in the network, see how data is moving among them, and quickly identify and correct issues that can undermine performance and lead to outages.

Better use of IT resources

The hardware and software tools in network monitoring systems reduce manual work for IT teams. That means valuable IT staff have more time to devote to critical projects for the organization.

Early insight into future infrastructure needs

Network monitoring systems can provide reports on how network components have performed over a defined period. By analyzing these reports, network administrators can anticipate when the organization may need to consider upgrading or implementing new IT infrastructure.

The ability to identify security threats faster

Network monitoring helps organizations understand what "normal" performance looks like for their networks. So, when unusual activity occurs, such as an unexplained increase in network traffic levels, it's easier for administrators to identify the issue quickly--and to determine whether it may be a security threat.

Types of network monitoring protocols

SNMP

The Simple Network Management Protocol is an application-layer protocol that uses a call-and-response system to check statuses of many types of devices, from switches to printers. SNMP can be used to monitor system status and configuration. 


ICMP

Network devices, such as routers and servers, use the Internet Control Message Protocol to send IP-operations information and to generate error messages in the event of device failures.


Cisco Discovery Protocol

The Cisco Discovery Protocol facilitates management of Cisco devices by discovering these devices, determining how they are configured, and allowing systems using different network-layer protocols to learn about one another.