What’s the only thing worse than an after-hours network emergency? One that you don't know about until the next day... meaning you walk into a crazy work situation that consumes your morning and starts your day on a rough note.
We’ve all been there. And that’s why we love network monitoring tools. A reliable network monitoring solution can send an alert by phone or text message immediately when the issue happens so you never miss a network event. While nobody enjoys getting a text at home while you're watching NetFlix saying that a switch is unresponsive, we’d rather get the alert and be able to address it than miss it altogether. Failure to quickly catch network outages can have a disastrous impact on your business, from lost revenue and user productivity to a damaged reputation with customers.
Maybe you’re searching for Linux network monitoring software because you don’t have one currently and want to experience the peace of mind a tool can provide. Or maybe your current tool isn’t getting the job done and you need a replacement. Either way, this article will illuminate what features are critical and how to find a tool that reliably monitors Linux servers.
Related Content: Ultimate Buyer's Guide; Network Monitoring Software in 2017
Look for These Features in Your Linux Network Monitoring Tool
1. Cross-Platform OS Support
As a free, open source OS, Linux is known for its adaptability, strong security, and dedicated user community. Whether you’re a die-hard Linux enthusiast or simply following the preferences of your organization, the best advice I can give you is to be forward-thinking in the way you approach network monitoring. You’ve probably already noticed a trend towards running multiple operating systems—it’s no longer a Windows-only or Linux-only world. With the growth of cross-platform IT environments, it would be a shame to invest time and energy into learning, customizing, and familiarizing yourself with a Linux-only tool, only to need a tool that monitors other operating systems down the road.
2. Ease of Use
Peers I talk to who love their network monitoring tools consistently praise their “ease of use” and how smooth it is to both deploy and maintain them over time. From installation to day-to-day operations, find a Linux network monitoring tool that is simple to set up out of the box and get started with quickly. The less time it takes you and your team to deploy and learn the tool, the faster you’ll start seeing network monitoring ROI.
3. Flexible Monitoring
These days, IT environments aren’t just standard physical data centers anymore. The cloud is a popular option to cut costs, access resources from anywhere, and save space. Many organizations are moving toward a hybrid IT approach, with some on-premise and some virtual resources.
I advise finding a network monitoring tool that will reliably monitor all your IP assets, whether they’re physical, VPN, or in the cloud. Even if you don’t have cloud-based assets today, again, think towards the future and make sure your solution will support it when you do.
It’s also important to find a tool that provides flexible network monitoring for the status of all kinds of equipment, from standard routers and switches to security systems, manufacturing equipment, sensors, gas pumps, and more. Find a vendor-agnostic tool as well so you can monitor all of your equipment, whether it’s Cisco, Juniper, Apple, or something else.
4. Visual Network Diagram
Without the ability to see where problems are occurring on your network, you’re running blind. Dynamic network maps simplify troubleshooting by showing you exactly where those problems are happening—so you can determine the cause, severity, and scope of the issue to resolve it.
Lots of tools do monitoring well, but not many can create live network maps that update in real time to reflect the current state of all your IP assets. Network mapping is a feature I highly recommend for your Linux monitoring.
Related Content: Why Maps are a Network Professional’s Secret Weapon
5. Real-Time Alerts
Be proactive instead of reactive to what’s happening on your Linux systems. Real-time alerts through a network monitoring tool’s interface, sounds, emails, or text messages help you resolve issues immediately when they occur. You have the freedom to work on what matters, without keeping your eyes glued to an event log all day.
6. NetFlow Analysis
A clear picture of current bandwidth and traffic levels helps you more effectively locate and fix network problems. Many network monitoring tools give you in-depth NetFlow analysis and bandwidth monitoring capabilities. Find one that allows you to configure your devices as NetFlow exporters and will monitor Linux server connectivity, device or link traffic, switch traffic at specific points in the WAN, and more.
7. Network Self-Healing
Network issues happen. It’s not enough to monitor and catch wind of them—you need to fix them, quickly and efficiently. The ability to remediate problems instantly with your network monitoring tool saves you time and increases your network availability. Selecting software that can both monitor and automate your network is a great way to shave hours off your manual processes.
8. Fast, Responsive Support
If you run into any issues you can’t solve on your own, having the assistance of a dedicated support team can be a lifesaver. Fast, quality support from a savvy technical team is the benefit of investing in an enterprise tool. Most Linux open source solutions don’t offer this kind of support, so if you choose to go that route, just keep in mind you’re on your own should something go wrong.
Take a proactive approach to your Linux server monitoring. Choose a tool that will do exactly what you need it to—maintain uptime and notify you if anything’s amiss—so you can sleep peacefully at night.