Getting started with network infrastructure monitoring

February 17,2021 in  RMM & Networking
by Violet Chepil

How to get started with network infrastructure monitoring. Here’s how and why your MSP should be monitoring network infrastructure devices and systems.

Guide to network infrastructure monitoring

Nowadays, businesses that have hired an MSP to work for them, look to their MSPs when there is any type of issue with any device that is attached to the network. 

“Slow internet? Let’s call our MSP.”

“Strange behavior with a device that could be from a hacker? I should definitely call my MSP.”

“No network? I’m hoping my MSP can fix that.”

MSPs are increasingly responsible for everything and anything on a network. 

Your tasks as a service provider may range from ensuring computers are functioning, to monitoring security cameras, managing firewalls configurations and keeping a business secure from cyber risks and threats. 

We’ve already written about the importance of monitoring IoT devices, how to monitor IP security cameras and how to get started with unified communications monitoring. This blog post is going to take a look at the most important component of an MSPs role, monitoring the network infrastructure. 

Let’s take a look at what devices make up the network infrastructure, why monitoring it is an important job for MSPs and how to get started with it. 

image of network

What devices make up the network infrastructure? 

Network infrastructure monitoring relates specifically to the monitoring of everything that is responsible for ensuring the network is secure and performs well. 

Network infrastructure devices include both hardware and software components such as: 

  • Routers
  • Firewalls 
  • Managed Switches
  • Wireless Access Points
  • Servers / Controllers
  • Virtual services / Virtual machines  

Guide to Network Infrastructure Monitoring - how to monitor network infrastructure

What is network infrastructure monitoring? 

Now that we know what components make up the network infrastructure, let’s look at the different ways you can monitor it. 

Network traffic monitoring

As part of your network infrastructure monitoring strategy you’ll want to monitor key variables and statics about the network. You will definitely want to get alerts if your network loses connectivity so you can look into the issue straight away to determine if this is caused by a device, the ISP or an end service provider. Use a tool such as Domotz network monitoring software that includes data and reporting. This kind of tool will report on key network variables like Internet health, WiFi signal levels,  noise value reporting, user activity logging, history and key indicator trends.

Hardware / endpoint monitoring

It’s important for MSPs to know when important hardware devices that are part of the network infrastructure go down or offline. Often these are critical devices for security and business operations (access points, firewalls, controllers, routers) Something like Domotz network management software will alert you if a critical device goes offline. 

New device monitoring

A new, unknown device joining the network could definitely be a security risk. MSPs will want to keep tabs on any new device joining the network to ensure it is allowed to be there. New devices could be a harmless device connected by an employee or they could be a malicious intruder as this is one of the tactics cyber criminals use to get passwords and other proprietary information. Keeping the network secure is also a key element of network infrastructure monitoring so setting up alerts for new devices that are detected on a network is definitely a good idea. 

Network configuration monitoring and management (NCMM)

NCMM helps you audit and maintain your firewall and network switch configurations and monitors and alerts you about any changes. If the network configuration of a firewall is changed or updated, this can present a huge security risk and could mean that someone is tampering with the software as part of a planned cyber attack. 

Why monitor network infrastructure?

Now that we know the various components of the network infrastructure and some key proactive measures you can take to monitor it, let’s look at why monitoring the network infrastructure is an important thing for MSPs to do. 

Business continuity

Most businesses rely on a secure and fast network to function. When a network isn’t functioning, most employees cannot complete their day to day tasks. Ensuring that the network is working is key for MSPs. No network means revenue losses for a business and will likely result in your customers being pretty unhappy with you.

Detect issues with network infrastructure in real-time

From time to time, network infrastructure equipment will face issues or there could even be a larger ISP or service provider issue. Being able to troubleshoot where the issue is coming from is key to resolving it. Just knowing the network isn’t working isn’t good enough. You’ll want a historical analysis and data about network performance over time to identify where an issue is originating. 

Prevent cyber attacks

Every MSP knows that cyber crime is on the rise and SMBs and MSPs are both attractive targets for cyber criminals. That’s why securing the network is really important. Keeping watch of NCMM and new devices joining the network will help you keep your customer networks more secure. You’ll also show your customers how proactive you are and how seriously you take cyber security . 

Build customer loyalty

A fast and strong network that performs well impacts how your customer’s view your MSP service. Keeping the network running well, will impress your customers and help build customer loyalty. 

How to monitor network infrastructure?

Choose the right software

There are many different types of software that can help you with network infrastructure monitoring. For example, Domotz network management software lets you easily monitor network infrastructure. It’s also very cost-effective and super easy to deploy. Be careful about adopting software that requires a huge amount of investment in terms of time to manage and maintain. Most MSPs simply do not have the time and resources to maintain a really complex system that requires a lot of manual configurations. 

Look for integrations with key network infrastructure hardware

Some software includes more integration features for key network infrastructure devices. For example; Domotz includes integration with the Ubiquiti/Unifi cloud, Cisco Meraki cloud, Ruckus Cloud and integrations with firewalls like Fortinet/Fortigate and Watchguard for NCMM.

Choose your alerts wisely to reduce noise

More alerts means better performance monitoring capabilities, right? Wrong. Choose the key events you alert on wisely to reduce noise. Monitor and receive alerts about key events and critical devices. This ensures that key events will be actioned by your team. In short, only choose to get alerts on issues that your team will take seriously and not ignore. 

Ensure a solid workflow

Getting alerts by app, email or mobile text message about key network infrastructure events and metrics is key, but having a system to action them is even more important. Consider a network monitoring system that can be integrated with a PSA tool. Having an integration with a PSA tool like Zendesk, Freshservice, Datto Autotask, Syncro or ConnectWise Manage will provide your team with a solid workflow. This will help them easily process, triage and solve issues with any network infrastructure hardware. 

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