You know the feeling when you are peacefully cruising through your day as a network admin and suddenly, bam! Wi-Fi at the entire head office decides to play hide-and-seek, leaving you stuck in no man’s land. All you hear from everyone is “Fix it now!”. Frustrating, right? That's where network monitoring swoops in to save your day.

This article is your passport to understanding the basics of network monitoring – the backbone of your Zoom meetings, optimal business operations and your overall digital sanity.

What is Network Monitoring?
What is Network Monitoring?

As we embark on this journey, let's establish a shared understanding of the network monitoring definition.

Network monitoring is the systematic practice of overseeing computer networks, encompassing both local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). The mission? Keep things running smoothly, top-notch performance, and lock-tight security.

Here's the game plan: we're delving into the art of vigilant observation, overseeing the entire cast – routers, switches, servers, end-users, and an array of applications and services, spanning from VoIP, ERPs, CRMs to SASE, SaaS applications, and more. Our goal is to collect crucial data and swiftly identify any anomalies or issues.

Why bother, you ask? Well, the plan is to keep your network at its A-game. Think of quick fixes, minimizing downtime, and maxing out performance. It's like giving the network a health check, making sure it's fit as a fiddle.

For admins and IT pros, it's like having X-ray vision into network traffic, bandwidth usage, network efficiency, device well-being, potential security hiccups and much more.

Why Network Monitoring Matters?
Why Network Monitoring Matters?

In the IT landscape, networks have taken center stage, especially with the rise of remote work. With the workforce spread out, the need for a secure, responsive, and dependable network is more critical than ever.

Imagine your network as the engine powering this work vehicle. Now, think of network monitoring as the dashboard full of warning lights and alarms. Without it, your system is like a car cruising without a clue – everything might seem AOK until suddenly, it grinds to a halt.

Network issues aren't just inconveniences, they're business disruptors. It's not just about the annoyance of a frozen Zoom call, it's about the potential domino effect that can bring a business to its knees. The ripple effect includes:

  • Disruption in business operations and inability to provide your services;
  • A dent in your revenue stream;
  • Frustrated customers and tarnished reputation;
  • Worse yet, sensitive customer data might be hanging out there like an open invitation to cyber trouble.

No bueno, right?

For network admins, nailing network monitoring basics is no gentle walk in the park, it’s more like a relentless uphill climb.
For network admins, nailing network monitoring basics is no gentle walk in the park, it’s more like a relentless uphill climb.

network monitoring for dummies

Now, let's talk about pressure. Network admins find themselves constantly tasked with incorporating new users, technologies, and applications into the fold. It's a balancing act, and any misstep can throw a wrench into the gears of consistent, predictable network performance.

When network glitches rear their ugly heads, network admins are thrust into a high-stakes game. They must swiftly pinpoint the root cause before it morphs into a full-blown crisis, impacting users, applications, and the overall business.

The challenge is compounded when dealing with intermittent performance issues – those elusive gremlins that refuse to be replicated or diagnosed easily.

That’s why getting started with at least the basics of network monitoring isn't just a technological upgrade, it's a strategic investment in the efficiency, security, and resilience of your organization's digital infrastructure. It lays the foundation for a connected, responsive, and future-ready network environment. So, why wait?

The Power of Obkio Network Performance Monitoring
The Power of Obkio Network Performance Monitoring

Experience the excellence of Obkio Network Performance Monitoring – an advanced, user-friendly tool that stands a cut above the rest. Distinguishing itself from traditional tools, Obkio provides a comprehensive 360-degree view of your network with unparalleled precision.

Real-time Visibility: Obkio offers real-time monitoring, providing immediate insights into your network's health for prompt decision-making.

Proactive Issue Detection: Identify and resolve potential bottlenecks before they have a ripple effect on your users, ensuring proactive issue resolution.

Granular Analysis: Dive into the intricacies of your network with a detailed analysis of traffic patterns, latency, and bandwidth utilization, allowing for granular understanding.

Spot Network Weaknesses: Pinpoint vulnerabilities and potential bottlenecks that may be impeding your network's efficiency, enabling targeted improvements.

Optimization Standards: Establish a baseline for network performance, setting the stage for achieving and maintaining optimized connectivity standards.

Empowered Decision-Making: Receive actionable recommendations derived from assessment results, empowering you to proactively address issues and enhance your network's overall performance.

network monitoring for dummies

Dive into the realm of network monitoring with Obkio and chart the course towards a seamlessly connected future.

  • 14-day free trial of all premium features
  • Deploy in just 10 minutes
  • Monitor performance in all key network locations
  • Measure real-time network metrics
  • Identify and troubleshoot live network problems
Free Trial - Text CTA
Free Trial - Button - Generic

Let’s Dive Into Network Monitoring Basics
Let’s Dive Into Network Monitoring Basics

Alright, it’s time to get our hands dirty with the ABCs of network monitoring basics. No rocket science, just the nuts and bolts to kickstart your journey into the tech wonderland.

Key Network Components
Key Network Components

In the realm of network monitoring, it's crucial to highlight that, unlike traditional network monitoring, we must extend our focus beyond just network devices to gain a comprehensive understanding of the overall functionality of your network. While switches and routers are important for data transfer within a network, you have to keep a bigger picture in mind.

Key components include:

  • Servers
  • Network Performance (bandwidth, throughput, jitter, packet loss, latency etc.)
  • User Activity and Experience
  • Network Protocols (TCP/IP and DNS, DHCP)
  • Network Security
  • Physical Infrastructure

These players make up the network, and monitoring them is like being the conductor of a symphony. Each note, or in our case, each bit of data, is crucial.

Network monitoring basics 101: We're not just responding when an issue arises, instead, we're actively analyzing and proactively monitoring key metrics, ensuring that every element harmonizes for consistent optimal network performance at all times.

19 Network Metrics: How to Measure Network Performance

Learn how to measure network performance with key network metrics like throughput, latency, packet loss, jitter, packet reordering and more!

Learn more right arrow hover right arrow

End-to-End Network Monitoring
End-to-End Network Monitoring

No matter how seasoned, network admins can't be present across the entire network 24/7. Employ monitoring agents who play a pivotal role in extending administrators' reach to every nook and cranny of the network:

  • Identify potential bottlenecks and fine-tune the network for seamless data transmission from LAN to WAN.
  • Leverage Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to keep tabs on the health and performance of network devices – routers, switches, and servers, the backbone of the network infrastructure.
  • In the realm of VoIP and UC, agents become invaluable allies, tracking metrics such as latency, call quality, and MOS score to ensure communication flows seamlessly.
  • For ERP and CRM, these agents keep a watchful eye on data transfer times and application responsiveness, ensuring optimal business process management.
  • When it comes to harmonizing interactions between your company and Cloud Services, agents serve as guardians, tracking and identifying anomalies that could signal potential security threats.

network monitoring for dummies

Proactive Network Monitoring
Proactive Network Monitoring

Network monitoring is not a one-time gig. It's a 24/7 surveillance operation, like the silent guardian in the digital night. We're not just looking for big red flags, we're keeping an eagle eye on every little hiccup. Whether it's a sudden spike in traffic or a device feeling under the weather, we want to know before it becomes headline news.

Best practices in monitoring often include assessing network performance from the end-user's perspective and adopting a strategic approach that immerses admins into the daily experiences of those depending on network applications and services.

By embracing the user's viewpoint, admins can proactively pinpoint potential issues, troubleshoot efficiently, and guarantee a seamless user experience.

Active or proactive monitoring, also known as synthetic monitoring, is a methodology employed to replicate user activity within a network, evaluating both application and network performance. By generating synthetic traffic that mirrors authentic user and application behaviours, network admins can detect and troubleshoot potential network issues before they impact users.

synthetic Monitoring

Baseline for Alerts and Proactive Troubleshooting
Baseline for Alerts and Proactive Troubleshooting

When diving into the realms of monitoring and alerting, it's time to go back to basics. You've got to unravel the mysteries of what's normal for your network – its usual behaviour, crucial data patterns, and the sweet spot for optimal performance. Once you've cracked that code, congratulations, you've built yourself a baseline.

Picture this baseline as your network's gold standard – the reference point for comparison, defining how things should ideally function. It's not just about recognizing good network performance but also swiftly identifying when things go wrong.

In essence, alerts are your network's guardians, ensuring that deviations from the established baseline don't evolve into full-blown problems. It's the network's way of saying, "Hey, something's off" giving you the power to intervene and keep the digital realm running smoothly.

network monitoring for dummies

Free Trial - Button - Generic

Network Monitoring Dashboard
Network Monitoring Dashboard

To master the basics of network monitoring, crafting a stellar network monitoring dashboard is the key. This involves not just selecting metrics but curating them in a logical order and tailoring the dashboard to meet the specific needs and priorities of the organization.

The Perks of Visualizing Crucial Data:

  • At-a-Glance Visibility: A well-designed dashboard provides a quick snapshot of essential network metrics, allowing network administrators to save time and swiftly assess performance while pinpointing potential issues.
  • Information Clarity: Steering clear of information overload, the dashboard ensures that critical insights are easily accessible, avoiding the clutter that comes with excessive data.
  • Visual Simplicity: Embracing straightforward visualizations like line charts, bar charts, or gauges enhances clarity, preventing dashboard clutter and information overload.
  • Quick Insights: Integrating widgets or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) offers rapid insights into critical network metrics, making the monitoring process more efficient.
  • Contextual Alerts: Infusing contextual alerts and notifications within visualizations serves as a spotlight on anomalies or crucial events, ensuring that no vital details go unnoticed.

In essence, a well-crafted network monitoring dashboard transforms data into insights, offering a visual narrative that simplifies the complex world of network performance.

network monitoring for dummies

Navigating Network Monitoring for Dummies: Common Issues Unveiled
Navigating Network Monitoring for Dummies: Common Issues Unveiled

Alright, let's dive into the not-so-pleasant side of the network universe – the glitches and hiccups that can turn a smooth digital ride into a rollercoaster of frustration.

Intermittent network problems – those pesky disruptions that show up whenever they feel like it. Unlike the consistent glitches that you can point fingers at, these play hide-and-seek. They pop up irregularly, making it a real puzzle to figure out what's going on and how to fix it.

Bandwidth is like the data superhighway. It measures how much information can flow through your network in a set time, not how fast. It's the capacity for data transfer, rated in megabits per second (Mbps). Higher bandwidth means more data can move swiftly, accommodating multiple devices simultaneously. However, be cautious – while it boosts speed, it can also mess with network performance and user experience. It's a bit like a wide highway – excellent for speed, but too much traffic can lead to chaos.

High CPU usage is a common network issue that seriously messes with performance. It happens when the central processing unit (CPU) of a device, like a router or server, is pushed to its limit. This overload can lead to various issues, impacting overall network functionality and user experience. As your devices tackle more tasks, the risk of things going south increases.

Packet loss – it's like those sneaky gremlins in your network causing trouble. Picture this: your data packets are little messengers trying to get somewhere, but sometimes, they get lost or tossed aside during the journey, ending up incomplete or wonky. Why does this happen? Think of it as a digital traffic jam – network congestion, wonky hardware, or random transmission hiccups.

Jitter – imagine your data packets doing the jitterbug, encountering speed bumps that mess with their travel time from point A to point B. Now, why should you care? Picture this in your virtual meetings or VoIP calls – timing is everything. Jitter can throw off that groove, making your conversations less smooth and more like a glitchy dance party.

Dealing with network issues is a real headache, and if you let them linger, they can wreak havoc on your business network. That's why it's crucial to grasp the potential pitfalls your network might face and consistently monitor its performance. By doing so, you can promptly spot and address network problems, preventing them from causing disruptions for your end users.

These are just some most common issues we see that our customers experience. Even though this article is about the basics of network monitoring, it’s crucial to learn all possible hiccups that might be happening in your network right now. Here's a handy resource you don’t want to miss: 16 Most Common Network Problems: How to Find & Fix Them.

16 Most Common Network Problems: How to Find & Fix Them

Learn about some of the most common network problems that businesses face every day, like high CPU, bandwidth, equipment issues, Internet failures, and more.

Learn more right arrow hover right arrow

Building Strong Foundation: The Right Tool for Network Monitoring Basics
Building Strong Foundation: The Right Tool for Network Monitoring Basics

No matter how much the IT landscape has changed, one thing remains a rock-solid need – network monitoring software. Whether it's the WAN, LAN, VoIP, MPLS, or a bunch of network elements like switches, routers, firewalls, servers, and all those techy pals – monitoring is the secret sauce that keeps the IT world spinning smoothly.

Let's embark on the quest to find your network's trusty sidekick – the perfect monitoring tool. It's not just about picking any tool, it's about finding the one that suits your network like a glove.

Free Trial - Banner - Generic

Understanding Basics of Network Monitoring Needs
Understanding Basics of Network Monitoring Needs

First things first – know thyself, or in this case, know thy network. Before diving into the sea of monitoring tools, understand what your network demands. Are you a small business needing a straightforward setup, or a large enterprise juggling a complex web of connections?

Knowing your network's size, complexities, and specific goals will be your compass in this tool-hunting adventure.

Quick Tip: For a better understanding of your needs, we recommend performing a network audit or assessment where you take a comprehensive look at your infrastructure and the current state of your network.

Network Monitoring Features to Look For
Network Monitoring Features to Look For

Not all network monitoring tools are created equal, and you don't want to end up with a Swiss army knife when you just need a screwdriver. Look for features that align with your network's needs. Real-time monitoring, alert systems, scalability, and user-friendly interfaces are just a few checkboxes to tick.

Let's keep it real – you don't want a tool that requires a PhD to operate. Opt for a user-friendly interface that doesn't make you want to pull your hair out. A tool that offers a smooth user experience ensures that you spend more time optimizing your network and less time trying to figure out complex features. The primary goal of network monitoring basics is to make monitoring a breeze, not a headache.

Also, make sure the tool grows with your network – what works for a fledgling startup might not cut it for a rapidly expanding enterprise.

Quick Tip: These aspects may seem a bit advanced for network monitoring for dummies, but their significance should not be underestimated. Consider which option is best for your business operations: Active vs. Passive Network Monitoring as well as Centralized vs. Decentralized Network Monitoring.

Consider Your Network Monitoring Budget
Consider Your Network Monitoring Budget

Budget talks might not be the most exciting, but they're crucial. Network monitoring tools come in all shapes and sizes, along with a range of price tags. Be realistic about what you can invest, considering both the immediate and potential future needs. It's all about finding that sweet spot where functionality meets financial sanity.

Community and Support
Community and Support

It's a wild digital world out there, and sometimes, you'll need backup. Check if the tool has an active community or reliable support. Whether it's an online forum or a dedicated support team, having a safety net can be a game-changer when you encounter roadblocks or have burning questions.

Important Note: If you want to get answers to all your questions (technical and beyond) and find a tailored solution just for you, don't miss out on "The Ultimate Network Monitoring Solution Buyer's Guide". By the end, you'll have a solid understanding of the best option to cover your needs and start optimizing your network right away.

The Ultimate Network Monitoring Solution Buyer's Guide

Confidently navigate the network monitoring tools landscape with our ultimate buyer's guide. Expert insights, use cases, and tips for informed choice

Learn more right arrow hover right arrow

Effortless Setup: Mastering the Basics of Network Monitoring
Effortless Setup: Mastering the Basics of Network Monitoring

If you are out of time and want to start ASAP, look no further! Opt for Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring tool to ensure your network stays in top-notch condition.

Obkio stands as a robust network monitoring solution, seamlessly catering to companies of all sizes across diverse industries, from professional services and manufacturing to banking and beyond. Our platform boasts a suite of network monitoring features designed to empower customers to identify, diagnose, and resolve network issues before they impact end users.

Key Features:

Active Monitoring Agents: These agents generate synthetic traffic, ensuring a proactive approach to network health by simulating real-world usage scenarios.

Network Path Monitoring: Obkio keeps a vigilant eye on network paths, guaranteeing optimal connectivity for all users.

Cloud Network Monitoring: Navigating the complexities of the cloud, Obkio ensures the uninterrupted operation of crucial applications and services.

Don't compromise – make the savvy choice for seamless operations.

Step 1: Deploy Obkio's Network Monitoring Tool!
Step 1: Deploy Obkio's Network Monitoring Tool!

You can effortlessly monitor both internal network performance and the connection with clients using Obkio's comprehensive end-to-end Network Monitoring SaaS service.

network monitoring for dummies

Unveiling the Advantages of Network Monitoring:

  • Fostering Customer Trust: Bolster customer confidence by offering transparent, real-time insights into both individual client networks and your network.
  • Proactive Issue Resolution: Maintain a vigilant watch on network performance, nipping network issues in the bud before they disrupt customers, ensuring minimal interruptions and downtime.
  • Tailored Insights: Showcase your commitment to client success by customizing monitoring reports to align with their unique requirements.
  • Streamlined Operations: Minimize manual intervention, optimize resource allocation, and simplify network management to accomplish more with less effort.
Free Trial - Text CTA
Free Trial - Button - Generic

Step 2: Deploy Agents for Network Monitoring!
Step 2: Deploy Agents for Network Monitoring!

Monitoring Agents, meaning specialized software, continuously monitor network and Internet performance. Cleverly positioned, these Agents become the silent heroes detecting issues across platforms, apps, and the Internet, all while keeping real user traffic unaffected.

They work tirelessly, monitoring network performance across various hubs – branch offices, corporate headquarters, data centers, clouds, and the Internet, engaging in simulated traffic exchanges every 500 ms. Perfect for MSPs with multiple network locations, this distributed monitoring technique is a goldmine of insights, especially regarding client networks.

Step 3: Monitor Your Clients' Networks!
Step 3: Monitor Your Clients' Networks!

As an MSP, your responsibilities extend beyond just your network, thus peeking into your clients' networks is a must. Locate Monitoring Agents across all client networks to adopt a proactive stance in enhancing performance and troubleshooting skills in the intricate world of client networks.

Let Obkio be your secret weapon for a seamless client network monitoring experience!

Step 4: Delving into Network Performance Across Networks!
Step 4: Delving into Network Performance Across Networks!

Setting up Monitoring Agents on both your network and your clients' networks is a stellar kickoff. But guess what? It's not a one-and-done deal, it's an ongoing dialogue fueled by synthetic traffic, elevating your ability to optimize network performance across the board.

The Full Performance Picture:

  • Synthetic monitoring plays the hero, providing a comprehensive insight into network performance without disrupting real user activities.
  • Proactive issue detection paves the way for establishing a performance baseline (also known as thresholds), complete with alarms for swift issue identification and resolution.
  • Collaborative troubleshooting not only fosters efficient problem-solving but also puts the blame game to rest.

Real-Life Case Study on Mastering Network Monitoring Basics
Real-Life Case Study on Mastering Network Monitoring Basics

Discover how Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring empowered SPI Health and Safety to monitor and troubleshoot network performance remotely, addressing VoIP quality issues and ensuring seamless operations for their remote workforce.

network monitoring for dummies

“Using Obkio, we’re able to easily manage and optimize network and VoIP performance for all our remote employees so that they can continue to work remotely without any performance issues!”
Jean-Francois Boucher
IT Director, SPI Health and Safety

Dive into the details of their setup, benefits gained, and the proactive measures taken to solve issues. Read the full case study Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting for Remote Workers with SPI Health and Safety.

It's not just about monitoring, it's about mastering the art of network performance across the entire IT landscape with Obkio.

Free Trial - Button - Generic

Finish Line of Network Monitoring for Dummies
Finish Line of Network Monitoring for Dummies

Congratulations, you've navigated the twists and turns of the network monitoring basics! From understanding the nuances of common network issues to selecting the perfect monitoring tool and setting up shop, you're now armed with the knowledge to keep your digital realm running like a well-oiled machine.

If you're aiming to elevate your network monitoring expertise beyond the beginner stage, we offer a range of additional resources (blog articles, case studies and free guides). Drawing on our 30+ years of collective industry experience at Obkio, we've navigated through the intricacies of network monitoring, providing you with a clear roadmap to becoming an IT Pro.

Book Demo - Banner - Generic

Embark on your journey with confidence! Our network experts are eager to address any questions or concerns you may have. Schedule a brief call, and bid farewell to the term "dummy" in your network vocabulary.

These might interest you

The Ultimate Network Monitoring Solution Buyer's Guide

play icon

See why Obkio is the ultimate Network Monitoring Solution - Watch now!