Distributed Network Monitoring: What is it & What are the Benefits?

Alyssa Lamberti
Alyssa Lamberti Last updated on Dec. 17, 2020

Distributed Network Monitoring: What is it & the Benefits?

In Summary

Nowadays, companies are embracing flexibility. Many businesses are embracing remote offices and working from home, storing their data in the Cloud, and ditching centralized data infrastructures. With distributed architectures becoming the new normal, it’s important to have a distributed monitoring solution that can keep up. In this article, we’re running you through everything you need to know about how distributed network monitoring works.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Over the past fifteen years, it was common for companies with multiple sites to adopt a "centralized" telecom architecture to interconnect all business locations to one single, unified network. This allowed businesses to keep their data and its processing within the head office and/or data centers. It was also typical to have a centralized Internet gateway shared by users from all locations.

Fast forward to today and things have changed. Organizations are increasingly using cloud-hosted applications services like Office 365, and cloud-based ERP, CRM solutions. The transition to cloud-based services has led organizations to leave the centralized model and switch to a more distributed architecture. This is where you need a distributed performance monitoring solution which can truly monitor the network’s performance from a user’s perspective and from every possible angle.

What is Distributed Network Monitoring?
What is Distributed Network Monitoring?

Distributed Network Monitoring, also known as Decentralized Network Monitoring, is a method for monitoring network performance of decentralized network infrastructures.

Distributed network monitoring is a monitoring strategy that provides network performance data based on the information provided by multiple observation points, also called Monitoring Agents or sensors, about a specific monitored object, or target, to determine the real status of the Agent independently from conditions that may affect the performance of one or more agents.

Essentially, distributed or decentralized network monitoring allows you to pinpoint network problems with specific applications or devices within your network, and determine whether it is a network or application issue.

Distributed network monitoring is increasingly used by modern Network Performance Monitoring Solutions, like Obkio, because of the need to adapt to the increasing shift towards decentralized network infrastructures and cloud-based applications and services. It is also ideal for Remote Network Monitoring of remote offices, home offices, and distributed data centers.

Network Performance Monitoring Chord Diagram 9 Agents

How Does Distributed Network Monitoring Work?
How Does Distributed Network Monitoring Work?

Distributed network monitoring involves deploying multiple Network Monitoring Agents distributed around your network to measure and monitor network performance from multiple locations throughout your network infrastructure.

Obkio offers users 4 types of Agents, including Software, Hardware, and Virtual Appliance, so you can deploy the Agent that works best with your chosen network location.

Agents then exchange synthetic traffic between each other to continuously test and monitor network performance in the various locations. They collect network data on various network metrics to identify any network issues or performance degradation affecting separate applications, devices, or different ends of your network.

This synthetic monitoring strategy is simple and immediate because all you have to do is to see what percentage of Monitoring Agents are reporting a network or application problem. With an application for example, if some Agents are able to connect to an application but not others, then blame the network. On the other hand, if all the agents are reporting the application down, then it’s time to call the application’s tech support.

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Why is Distributed Network Monitoring Important?
Why is Distributed Network Monitoring Important?

As talked about at the beginning of the article, businesses are increasingly moving towards remote offices and working from home, storing their data in the Cloud, and transitioning to decentralized data infrastructures.

With centralized infrastructures in the past, companies only needed to monitor network performance between the head office or data center and the remote locations. This provided sufficient coverage to catch most business-impacting issues and for that, traditional monitoring systems were usually adequate.

Nowadays, accessing cloud-based services through a centralized Internet gateway, often hundreds if not thousands of miles away, just doesn’t work. The few milliseconds of round trip time added to each transaction quickly adds up to a considerable delay. To fix this, businesses are, therefore, reverting to using local Internet gateways in each location.

The transition to cloud-based services has led organizations to leave the centralized model and switch to a more distributed architecture. Unfortunately, this can quickly complexify the data flows between users, thereby rendering traditional network monitoring tools unfit for the task.

This is where you need a distributed network monitoring solution which can monitor network performance from a user’s perspective and from every possible angle.

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When to Use Distributed Network Monitoring
When to Use Distributed Network Monitoring

So we talked about using Decentralized or Distributed Network Monitoring to monitor decentralized networks or cloud-based applications and services, but let’s get into more detail.

Distributed network monitoring is essential for multi-site enterprises that have a wide area network (WAN). This generally means that your network supports five or more network locations. On average, monitoring performance and troubleshooting network issues in five or more locations, including remote offices, data centers, and remote employees, is difficult to do without the right software.

If you’re spending considerable time troubleshooting problems, and losing visibility over all your locations, that’s a pretty clear indication that you need distributed network monitoring to make your life easier.

That’s because distributed network monitoring is a great way to quickly detect legit network and application issues, and quickly do fault isolation, which is an important step in the troubleshooting process.

To summarize, you need Distributed Network Monitoring to monitor:

  • Decentralized Network Infrastructures
  • Wide WAN Networks - 5 Locations or More
  • Cloud-based Applications and Services
  • Multiple Office, Branch, and Data Center Locations
  • Remote Employees

Distributed Network Monitoring Use Cases
Distributed Network Monitoring Use Cases

An even easier way to determine whether you need Distributed Network Monitoring is to see if you fall into any of the network monitoring use cases below.

We talk about the 3 most common network monitoring use cases in other articles, which include:

Of course, you can use Distributed Network Monitoring in all of these situations, but we’re also going to discuss some more specific use cases.

1. Monitor Local Networks in One City
1. Monitor Local Networks in One City

Many companies and organizations, including colleges, municipal institutions, pharmacy chains, etc. have several branch locations in the same city. Even in multiple locations, you don’t need IT resources in every branch. With distributed network monitoring, IT teams and network administrators can automatically monitor network performance in all locations, view the data on one centralized dashboard, and troubleshoot from wherever they are.

2. Monitor International Locations
2. Monitor International Locations

Large companies and enterprises usually have offices located abroad, or employees working in remote locations. These branches often have their own servers and hardware, not to mention websites that must be reachable worldwide. Distributed network monitoring with Obkio monitors hardware, applications, bandwidth, website traffic, and more - even for remote locations.

3. Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
3. Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

Managed service providers (MSPs) are IT service providers that operate and monitor IT systems for companies. They offer services like server management, web hosting, network security, Internet, VoIP, and more. As MSPs oversee multiple networks, they need a distributed network monitoring software that collects and monitors the data from each and every channel for complete visibility over their clients’ network.

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Monitoring Performance Of the Cloud
Monitoring Performance Of the Cloud

One of the biggest advantages so distributed network monitoring is being able to monitor network performance up to your cloud infrastructure!

Obkio’s Public Monitoring Agents, which are an extension of Obkio’s Hardware and Software Network Performance Monitoring Agents, are agents hosted in major cloud providers around the world, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Some of them are also operated by third-party service providers.

Users can easily monitor and measure their network performance of SaaS applications with thos Monitoring Agent type hosted by the Cloud service providers of their choice.

We also have articles about how exactly to use these Monitoring Agents to monitor Microsoft network connectivity for apps like Teams and Azure and to monitor Google network performance for apps like Google Meet, Workspace, and Gmail.

Network Performance Monitoring Chord Diagram 3 Agents

The Benefits of Distributed Network Monitoring
The Benefits of Distributed Network Monitoring

Now that we’ve covered what distributed network monitoring is and how it works, let’s summarize some of the key benefits of using a decentralized or distributed network monitoring strategy.

End-User View of Network Performance:
End-User View of Network Performance:

With traditional centralized network monitoring, you only see network performance from a single perspective. With distributed network monitoring, you see network performance from a number of different views across your network. In addition, Obkio’s network monitoring agents exchange traffic to act like real users in different points across a network.

Helps with Network Troubleshooting:
Helps with Network Troubleshooting:

Distributed network monitoring gives you visibility over your complete network, allowing you to identify network problems occurring in any location, and collect the information you need to troubleshoot specific problems fast.

Simplifies the Transition to the Cloud:
Simplifies the Transition to the Cloud:

As we mentioned earlier, distributed network monitoring is necessary when using decentralized cloud-based networks or applications. Prepare for your transition to the cloud by deploying a distributed network monitoring solution that can accurately and efficiently monitor your cloud apps.

Reduces Bandwidth Requirements:
Reduces Bandwidth Requirements:

A centralized network monitoring tool will send requests over your precious WAN links. A distributed network monitor will usually be configured to send requests to local resources and appropriate global resources when measuring network performance.

Consolidated NOC View
Consolidated NOC View

Rather than having to deploy separate network monitoring systems in each network location to monitor end-to-end network performance, distributed network monitoring allows you to monitor resources locally but consolidate all stats into a single NOC for analysis and storage. So you never need to juggle multiple tools every again.

Network Performance Monitoring Metrics

Obkio Distributed Network Performance Monitoring
Obkio Distributed Network Performance Monitoring

After learning about Distributed Network Monitoring, are you convinced it’s the right solution for you. If your business, rather a business of one or a hundred, uses cloud applications, has multiple locations, or relies on remote works, then the answer is definitely yes.

Lucky for you, Obkio’s Network Performance Monitoring software is the easiest distributed network performance monitoring solution on the market. Focused on fast deployment and user-friendliness, Obkio empowers users to continuously monitor the health of their network and core business applications to improve the end-user experience.

Try Obkio’s Windows Network Monitor with a free 14-day trial!