Network Monitoring Best Practices for MSPs and Businesses Alike
Let’s face it, every type of business deals with many devices these days. Network monitoring has become essential for managing and maintaining a reliable and secure IT infrastructure. Network monitoring is not just for some businesses. It’s for everyone!
This article covers some Network Monitoring Best Practices you can quickly implement at your MSP or organization. These network monitoring best practices will help you proactively identify and address issues, optimize performance, and enhance security.
Furthermore, in this blog post, we will explore some crucial network monitoring best practices that can help you ensure the smooth operation of your network and protect your valuable assets.
In short, we’ll discuss how to:
- Define your Network Monitoring Objectives
- Choose the Right Monitoring Tools
- Monitor Key Performance Indicators
- Implement Proactive Monitoring
- Monitor Network Security
- Establish Baselines and Historical Data
- Regularly Review and Fine-Tune Monitoring
- Document, Document, and Document
- Monitor More than One Data Type
- Keep a Network Map with a Device Inventory
#1 Clearly Define your Network Monitoring Objectives
Before you dive headfirst into implementing a network monitoring solution, take a step back. Furthermore, consider what you need, want to monitor, and why.
Before diving into network monitoring, it’s essential to establish clear objectives. Identify what aspects of your network you want to monitor and the specific goals you want to achieve. For example:
- Tracking devices to know when critical infrastructure is offline
- Generating and keeping topology maps up to date so you know where everything is on a network
- Track bandwidth usage to identify potential bottlenecks
- Run periodical security scans to detect opened ports
- Discover unauthorized users by monitoring for new devices and real-time network monitoring alerts
Defining why you are performing specific monitoring actions, will help you align your program. Additionally, it will help you select the appropriate monitoring tools and set up relevant metrics and alerts.
#2 Choose the Right Monitoring Tools
Selecting the right network monitoring tool for your business is crucial. Many options are available for network monitoring, from free to open source to cloud-hosted to comprehensive enterprise-grade platforms, which cost thousands. Read our tips on choosing the best network monitoring tool.
Some things you’ll want to consider when choosing a network monitoring tool:
- Your specific feature requirements
- Any integrations you need (you probably use some of those integratons)
- Scalability and ease of use: how fast can you deploy and manage
- Customization: how can you customize the tool to meet your needs
- Hosting (i.e., on-premise vs. SaaS Network Monitoring Tools)
There are many popular tools for network monitoring, including Domotz. Try Domotz for free, without a payment card, and it’s just $23/month per network for monitoring all devices.
#3 Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Once you have written down your network monitoring objectives and chosen the right tool, you will want to implement some KPIs to monitor.
Monitoring key performance indicators will give you insight into the health of your networks and devices. Some essential KPIs to monitor include device up/down status, network latency, packet loss, error rates, CPU and memory usage, and response times.
Monitoring these metrics in real-time and over time will help you identify trends, predict potential issues, and make informed decisions to optimize network performance.
Check out our handy article on setting the right KPIs for your MSP.
#4 Implement Proactive Monitoring
Don’t wait for something terrible to happen; prevent issues before they occur. Just like a superhero would. Being proactive is the key when it comes to network management.
Focus on proactive monitoring to identify and resolve potential problems before they impact your users, businesses, or services.
Here are some ways you can be proactive regarding network monitoring and management:
- Set up alerts for critical network and device events
- Configure alerts for network traffic
- Receive notifications for network configuration management
Check out our helpful article on network visibility for more ideas on this topic.
#5 Monitor Network Security
While a network monitoring tool is no replacement for security strategy, your tool of choice can help you in some ways.
Use the security features available on your network monitoring software to further enhance your strategy.
Implement security-focused monitoring practices such as new device alerts, security scans, open port scanning, and UPnP port forwarding scanning.
Additionally, monitor network traffic for anomalies, perform regular vulnerability assessments, and keep track of security events and updates.
#6 Establish Baselines and Historical Data
When everything goes well, historical data seems useless or painful to set up. However, when something goes wrong, you’ll want all the baselines and historical data you can get. Moreover, implementing network data aggregation and establishing baselines in your network monitoring strategy is essential.
Establishing baselines and collecting historical data provides a valuable reference for network performance analysis and troubleshooting. Regularly monitor and record network met, allowing you to identify deviations from normal behavior and pinpoint the root cause of any anomalies that arise. Historical data also helps in capacity planning, trend analysis, and forecasting future network requirements.
#7 Regularly Review and Fine-Tune Monitoring
Once you have a network monitoring system, you must continuously improve it. Regularly review your monitoring setup to ensure it aligns with your changing network infrastructure and business objectives.
Check your monitoring thresholds, alerts, and reports to tweak the output best to suit your business needs.
Build more comprehensive and customized monitoring dashboards to streamline your workflows with the needed information.
Review network devices and set-up to see how to improve function and performance. After all, network monitoring is not a job that is set up and then done. Proactive network monitoring and management require consistent and ongoing improvements!
#8 Document, Document, and Document
Nobody loves useless documentation, do they? We sure don’t. However, when it comes to network monitoring, network documentation is critical.
Your network documentation should include the following:
- Network Monitoring set-up information
- Configuration details
- Monitoring policies
- Troubleshooting procedures
You can also pair Domotz with the documentation tool of your choice, like Hudu, IT Glue, CloudRadial, IT Portal, or Liongard. What’s more, pairing Domotz with a documentation tool will enable you to collect network details automatically and port them over to the mechanism of your choice.
#9 Monitor More than one Data Type
The more data sources, the better when it comes to network monitoring best practices. Each data type you collect, monitor and analyze can help you with network management and troubleshooting.
- SNMP: Hone in on data about switches, firewalls, access points, printers, UPS, and more. Learn more about pre-configured sensors, which make SNMP monitoring a breeze.
- Custom Scripts: Our custom scripts allow you to dive into metrics for application and cloud monitoring, and we have a continuously growing list of these available.
- APIs: An easy and comprehensive way to integrate third-party applications. Learn more about the Domotz API.
- Packets: Packet data can help you pinpoint the root cause of a network issue.
When it comes to data for network monitoring, the more, the merrier!
#10 Keep a Network Map with a Device Inventory
You need to know what is on a network to manage it effectively. That’s why you need a network topology map. Using an automated network topology map that stays up-to-date in real time is even better.
On a network topology map, every switch, router, port, and endpoint will be physically located and observed live for health and performance issues.
Learn all about our automated network topology mapping features.
Conclusion on Network Monitoring Best Practices
We hope you found our tips on network monitoring best practices useful. Implementing effective network monitoring practices ensures your networks’ optimal performance and security.
By defining clear objectives, selecting the right tools, monitoring key performance indicators, and establishing proactive monitoring strategies, you can identify and resolve issues before they impact your network.
Focusing on security, establishing baselines, fine-tuning your monitoring setup, and maintaining documentation will make your network monitoring even more reliable.
Moreover, monitoring more than one type of data, documenting everything, and constantly updating your topology (preferably in real-time) will benefit your network monitoring practice.
By following these best practices, you can enhance the efficiency, resilience, and security of your network, ultimately enabling your organization to deliver a seamless and secure experience for users and services.