What is a Network Management Tool, and Why Use One

5 min

What is a network management tool?

Network management is looking at a network proactively and fixing real-time issues. A network management tool allows you to identify problems, set configurations on the network and devices remotely, update configurations of critical network infrastructure devices, and monitor the status of the network and devices. Additionally, network management tools enable you to troubleshoot problems when they occur, remotely access devices as though you are on a network, and remotely manage the power of devices. In other words, you use a network management tool for all network management aspects. Furthermore, you use it to monitor performance in real-time and remotely perform actions to maintain the network and troubleshoot issues when they arise.

You probably need a network management tool if you’re a service provider, MSP, or responsible for managing a complex network.

Why you may need a network management tool?

There are a lot of benefits to using a network management tool. Network management tools enable you to watch over a network proactively and troubleshoot problems without physically visiting a site. They allow you to see how the network is performing, view network uptime, and check if devices are online and functioning as they should be. Additionally, you can solve problems if something goes wrong. Furthermore, you can use these tools to maintain the network and configurations. Moreover, you can investigate why something has gone wrong in the first place.

Network management tools provide the critical information you need to perform your job. You can proactively manage your networks to prevent disasters, downtime, and cyber security threats.

The good news is that there is some potent (and affordable) network management software like Domotz.

How do network management tools work?

Monitoring a network relies heavily on real-time information to provide value. Essential information is harvested using a variety of methods and protocols.

Standard protocols used for analyzing a network include:

  • ARP (Layer 2 Protocol): The Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) discovers the link-layer addresses, like the MAC addresses. It’s used for associating this with an internet layer address.
  • ICMP (Layer 3 Protocol): Standard devices (routers, servers, etc.) use the Internet Control Message Protocol to send IP operational information and generate errors.
  • SNMP (Layer 7 Protocol): The simple network monitoring protocol is a basic protocol that reports data from network devices to connected IP networks. Learn about SNMP versions and how SNMP works.

While this may seem like complicated information to obtain, the truth is that it’s usually provided through software.

These systems are referred to as network monitoring and management tools.

Network monitoring and management tools use a variety of protocols and methods to poll the network and devices for information. These systems proactively look at everything on a network and provide that information, usually on a web and mobile app.

Who should be managing their networks with a tool?

  • IT service providers / MSPs: Monitoring a network keeps you in the driver’s seat. This is critical if you’re responsible for everything that happens on a network.
  • IT professionals: These players may only be responsible for one network but likely for a medium to larger-sized organization.
  • Commercial and Residential Integrators: Integrators who more commonly install innovative IoT technology must ensure everything works correctly. This is even more crucial as more devices get attached to a network.

What are the benefits of network management tools?

Using a tool to manage a network proactively enables you to look at the whole picture holistically.

  • Know everything happening on a network so you can be in charge.
  • Generate tickets in your PSA tool when important network and device events occur, allowing you to troubleshoot smartly.
  • See if crucial devices are online, from firewalls and routers to wireless access points and managed switches.
  • Investigate network issues remotely because you can see what’s happening.
  • Deploy configuration changes on access points and firewalls remotely.
  • Automate your processes so you can save time.
  • Document your networks accurately.
  • Reduce noise because tickets can be closed automatically if a device returns online.
  • Offer new services to your customer, such as monitoring of IoT devices, security cameras, Point of Sale Systems, Digital Signage, and unified communications systems.
  • Generate additional revenue by offering new services.

What are the features of network management tools?

Network management tools include many features for proactive network monitoring and management. The features may include:

  • Monitoring Dashboards: Real-time dashboards of network information
  • Automated Device Discovery: Network monitoring systems discover any new device added to a network in real-time.
  • Automated network topology mapping. This network management feature enables you to create an automated topology map of what is on a network. You can then use the map to see how the elements are interconnected. Basically, it provides you a picture of what you are dealing with.
  • Remote network management: Being able to perform critical actions remotely, including accessing devices, rebooting devices, and managing configuration changes
  • Critical infrastructure monitoring: Checking if critical infrastructure devices like switches, routers, servers, load balancers, printers, firewalls, and IP-connected devices are online
  • Alerting and Ticketing System integration: If critical devices are not online, network monitoring systems send out alerts (usually by email or push notification about this)

What to monitor and manage on a network?

  • Firstly, the network status. You’ll want to continuously check on network speed and if the network is online or ever goes down.
  • Secondly, critical infrastructure devices. You’ll want to monitor key infrastructure components, including firewalls, access points, routers, and network switches.
  • Thirdly, network configuration changes. For security purposes, you’ll want to monitor any changes to network configuration on critical infrastructure such as firewalls and network switches.
  • In addition, you’ll want to monitor for new devices connecting. You’ll want to get alerts if any new device connects to a network you’re managing, which could signify a security risk.
  • Device uptime. You’ll want to continuously monitor the device status and get historical information.
  • You’ll also want to be monitoring for opened TCP ports and UPnP ports forwarding. Hint: you can do this really easily with Domotz.

How to get started with network management tools

Now you know a little about network monitoring, how it works, and standard features, which means its time to dive into how to get started.

Firstly, decide what you need to monitor. Make a list of the devices crucial to your network infrastructure. List out the services crucial to business continuity. Write down everything that makes up the network’s backbone, like routers, firewalls, access points, and switches. These are all the essential components you’ll want to monitor.

Secondly, make a list of critical integrations you’ll need. Adopting network monitoring software is about streamlining your processes and saving time, headaches, and money. In other words, you must choose software that integrates with the other software and hardware you already use. This is key to really automating processes.

Furthermore, trial all the software you can. Trial different software to see which one fits your needs best. We cannot stress this enough because there is only one way to determine if the software works for you: by trying it out.

Lastly, we cannot stress this enough: choose software with good support. Choosing software with excellent support is crucial because computer networking is not an easy field. Choose an experienced and reputable support team that can provide excellent customer service when dealing with your requests.

The power of network management tools

Domotz SNMP monitoring has been super powerful so far. It has helped a lot in the conversation with our Hardware support team in showing the temperature history on a switch and the power from an UPS.”

MATT DONNELLY – MITCHELL AND COMPAN

“Since Domotz is on the market, we deploy this nice and useful monitoring application at each customer site. All of our engineers love this tool that allows us to interact *immediately* after a network event occurred in a way *before* customers are recognizing a failure.”

MAX SIEGRIST – ONSPIRIX INC

Start a Free Trial of Domotz to start monitoring your networks today.

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