As a safeguard against sudden technology outages, network monitoring is one of the best investments an IT department can make. A great network monitoring tool gives you visibility into your entire IT infrastructure, the ability to monitor devices in real-time, and advance notice of any problems. You can save thousands of dollars per year in downtime avoided and manpower required to troubleshoot network issues manually.
If you’ve chosen to run some or all your network equipment on the Windows operating system, there’s no shortage of network monitoring tools for Windows—but not every tool is created equal. In this article, I’ll cover what to look for in network monitoring software for Windows and how to find one that fits your IT requirements.
When Windows is your OS of choice
Many organizations choose Windows for its familiarity among users, security, and ease of management. Windows active users continue to grow, and Microsoft has set a target of 1 billion users by 2018. Thanks to the platform’s continued growth, if you’re running some or all your IT infrastructure on Windows, you can count on frequent updates and quality support from software vendors for many years to come.
In today’s modern IT environments, it’s more common than not to be running some applications on Windows and some on Mac, IBM i, Linux, or another operating system of choice. Many cross-platform tools will give you support for multiple operating systems so you can monitor your full device count.
Related Content: 2017 Ultimate Network Monitoring Software Buyer’s Guide
6 Must-Have Features for Your Windows Network Monitoring Software
Every organization has unique IT requirements. When researching network monitoring tools, it’s important to remember what features are “must-haves”—and which are just “nice to have.” Some of the larger network management tools come with extra modules, which sound attractive in theory but can prove expensive and complex to deploy, especially if you have a small team who will be in charge of learning and using the tool.
If you’re looking for guidance on which features are essential to your day-to-day IT operations, here’s a quick list of six that are “must-haves” to help you attain return on investment faster.
1. Ease of deployment
The quicker you can install and set up your network monitoring solution, the sooner you can start using it to identify issues and troubleshoot network events.
Find a tool that is easy to use and deploy for immediate network monitoring ROI.
2. Visual infrastructure mapping
Many network professionals say a network map is one of the most helpful tools for anyone tasked with managing network performance. Because static device inventories quickly become out of date, having a map that automatically discovers and displays all your network devices is a huge time-saver. With a map at your fingertips, you can quickly locate devices, troubleshoot abnormal performance, or even help a new team member learn the lay of the land.
Look for a dynamic network mapping tool that lets you adjust your maps to fit your preferences and shows you how devices are performing in real time through animation, colors that reflect device statuses, and live elements.
3. Flexible performance monitoring
As your IT environment grows, you may need to monitor more than just Windows servers, switches, firewalls, and other standard network equipment. From cloud-based applications to SNMP sensors, the amount of technology you can monitor is growing—and if you want to keep it up and running, you should be monitoring it.
Make sure you can monitor devices in your current inventory as well as new devices you’ll add in the next few years. Find a tool that can monitor anything with an IP address, from typical network devices to Internet of Things devices.
4. Real-time notifications
You can’t afford to wait until users tell you that a device is down. When your software is monitoring your network 24/7, you’ll receive notifications immediately when CPU is high, network connectivity fails, etc. Just set up alerts to notify you of whatever’s critical in your business environment.
Notification overload is real, so find a tool that lets you customize when and how you want to be notified. Having multiple options, like text, email, or sound, is helpful in ensuring alerts always reach you, whether you’re at your desk or away from it.
5. Bandwidth and flow analysis
Monitoring bandwidth usage is a real concern for IT departments. The ability to drill down into analytics over time is essential to identifying bandwidth hogs, as well as discover where traffic is coming from and how it’s flowing across your network. This data helps you stay on top of any concerning trends and plan more effectively for capacity needs.
Find a tool that collects NetFlow data and displays it in real time for easy flow analysis.
6. Network automation
Especially for small network teams, network automation helps reduce the level of manual tasks on a network professionals’ plate. It can also ensure a speedy response to network issues. Beyond network monitoring, many tools give you the ability to also automate remediation, so a person never has to get involved.
If you’d like to simplify life for your IT team, find tools that can perform network automation for remediation and other daily network management tasks.
Related Content: Which Network Monitoring Tool is Right for You?
Intermapper: User-Friendly, Flexible Network Monitoring for Windows
Windows’ widespread adoption means you can easily find network monitoring software tools to fit every network size and budget. Focus on tools that offer essential mapping, monitoring alerting, flow analysis, and automation capabilities that are easy to learn and install—for maximum results and faster ROI. If you’re looking for a Windows tool that does all these features (and more) for an affordable investment, consider Intermapper, a network monitoring solution we offer at HelpSystems.
Intermapper auto-discovers every device in the network and displays it on a visual, topographical map. You get an at-a-glance view of how the network’s performing now—and the layout, background, icons and more can be changed so what you see is intuitive to you. Intermapper can monitor nearly any device (as long as it has an IP address) and send you alerts so you’re always one step ahead of outages. You can also automate remediation through an interface with Automate, HelpSystems IT automation software.
With cross-platform functionality, Intermapper can monitor devices on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Easy to install and deploy, it is a favorite network monitoring software for Windows among many network admins across industries, from government to finance to manufacturing. Whether you want to monitor 20 devices or 2,000, Intermapper can provide the powerful, flexible mapping, monitoring, and alerting you need.