It's more evident than ever that profit is tied to network infrastructure. Financial institutions, for example, rely on having a sound infrastructure that keeps up with real-time market activity. If that infrastructure fails during a trade or transaction, the company could potentially lose millions of dollars. While some larger institutions may be able to lose a deal or two and still function, smaller business simply cannot afford to take the potentially devastating risk that comes from unexpected network outages.
Proactively monitoring your network is the best way to prevent network outages and unplanned downtime. But before you can prevent these devastating outages, you need to understand what causes them.
What Causes Network Outages?
Anything that stops a device from performing the way it was intended is considered an outage. There are many possible causes, but common sources of outages include human error, environmental factors, configuration issues, and bottlenecks.
Human error during device configuration is a major cause of network outages. IT staff are tasked with making changes to devices on a regular basis in enterprise-class environments, and although templates have become important to that task, there are still manual processes that are prone to error. Another common human error can be accidentally unplugging a device and then plugging the device back in to the wrong port. If you have multiple VLANs, or if the device port is hard-coded for specific device interfaces, you can bring down the entire network while searching for the correct port.
If your HVAC blows a fuse and the computer room or data center becomes overheated, your equipment may be subject to tremendous damage and possible failure. An event like this can be avoided simply by having environmental sensors in your computer that alert you when certain temperature thresholds are breached. This saves you money that would otherwise be spent dealing with costly repairs, network downtime, and angry customers who can’t access their systems.
A down interface link on your router is an example of a configuration issue that can cause a serious outage. If the link that is responsible for handling your internet traffic becomes unresponsive, this causes services like web-browsing and external traffic not to work properly. These things can be critical to the day-to-day operations of your company, and successful organizations should be able to identify possible configuration issues before they arise.
Bottlenecks can occur on networks with excessive amounts of contention for resources on a device, such as CPU or memory. The result is that the flow of data slows dramatically and affects performance. With the right network monitoring software, you should be able to identify potential bottlenecks before they slow the flow of data or cause network outages.
The main purpose of a cyber attack is to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal, or gain unauthorized access to an environment. With the increase in telecommuting and remote work, there has been an increase in cyber attacks from the many potential points of entry into networks. A cyber attack can be catastrophic to a business, not just from the financial implications, but they can also cause a hit to a business' reputation. With the right network monitoring, you can be better protected against these types of business-critical attacks by ensuring baselines are met and kept and security protocols are in place.
How Proactive Network Monitoring Can Prevent Outages
The right network monitoring software should employ a proactive approach based on early detection in order to avoid network outages. There are three key things a solid network monitoring software should do to achieve this:
Device discovery and performance monitoring
The first step in mitigating potential network issues is to discover all the devices on a network and their current status. A top-of-the-line network monitoring software should use auto-discovery to find each device on your network, eliminating the need for manual entry of device information.
Display status information
The software should also give you real-time status conditions of your devices, including response time, packet loss rate, uptime, availability, temperature, and more.
Use smart alerting
Your network monitoring software should use smart alerting to notify IT managers when a device is on the brink of reaching a critical threshold. Managers should be able to set up their devices to alert them when a device is in an alarm state so they can remedy the problem before an end-user notices. Smart alerting also gives operators a proper perfomance baseline to help them determine where their performance monitoring should and shouldn't be.
Related Content: Ultimate Buyer's Guide for Network Monitoring Software
Choosing Network Monitoring Software
As you can see, the ideal network monitoring solution gives you the ability to monitor your network in real-time while providing visibility into where possible issues might arise. Selecting the right network monitoring software is critical to help isolate potential issues before they cause network failure. To prevent the costs of unexpected downtime, businesses need to be proactively monitoring their networks at all times.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and network integration firms capitalize on this need by providing businesses with 24/7 network monitoring. Part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that these service providers offer is ensuring that a business does not sustain crippling downtime, resulting in lost hours, wages, sales, and profits. But what do you do if you cannot afford service providers or technology consultants to constantly monitor and maintain the health of your network?
Intermapper is an easy-to-use network monitoring, mapping, and alerting software that is both affordable and extremely powerful. It utilizes auto-discovery to discover every device in your network, eliminating the need to enter device information manually. With Intermapper, you can also automatically import devices and begin creating network maps that provide real-time insight into the health of your network. What’s more, Intermapper alerts you when a threshold is about to be breached—wherever you are—so you can take action to remedy the problem before it causes an outage.
Intermapper is easy to use and manage; the product even comes with default configurations so you can start using the software in a matter of minutes. Intermapper also integrates with Splunk Enterprise System Logging Server. Splunk is a great solution that, when used in conjunction with Intermapper, provides you with operational analytics that give you incredible visibility into network performance. With Splunk, you’re better able to identify where possible faults, critical events, and configuration issues might arise.
Any IT professional will tell you that technology can have a mind of its own, but having a network monitoring solution in place ensures that you’ll be able to identify issues before they become major problems. You simply cannot prevent a network outage if you are not proactively monitoring your network infrastructure; with Intermapper, you have an affordable, powerful tool at your disposal to always keep your business up and running.
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