What is a network management tool and how does it work?

what is a network management tool
5 min

What is a network management tool?

What is a network management tool and do you need to use one? If you’re a service provider, MSP or responsible for managing a complex network, the answer is, yes.

Network monitoring and management is the process of looking at a network proactively and fixing issues in real-time. A network management tool allows your 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 power of devices. In other words, you use a network management tool for all aspects of managing a network. Furthermore, you use it to monitor performance in real-time and remotely perform actions for maintenance of the network as well as troubleshooting issues when they arise.

Why service providers need a network management tool?

There are a lot of benefits of using a network management tool. Network management tools enable you to watch over a network proactively and troubleshoot problems without needing to physically visit 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.

For some businesses like managed service providers and IT providers, network management tools as essential.

Network management tools provide the critical information MSPs and IT professionals need to perform their job. In other words, MSPs and IT service providers have to proactively manage their networks to prevent disasters, downtime and cyber security threats.

The good news is that there is some very powerful (and affordable) network management software like Domotz available in today’s world.

How network management tools work?

The practice of monitoring a network relies heavily on real-time information to provide value. Key information is harvested using a variety of methods and protocols.

Common 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. Its used for associating this with an internet layer address.
  • ICMP (Layer 3 Protocol): The Internet Control Message Protocol is used by common devices (routers, servers etc.) to send IP operational information and generate errors.
  • SNMP (Layer 7 Protocol): The simple network monitoring protocol is a basic network 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 happening on a network and provide that information usually on a web and mobile app. We recommend monitoring and managing your networks with a tool like Domotz, of course.

Who should be managing their networks with a tool?

  • IT service providers / MSPs: Monitoring a network keeps you in the drivers seat. For MSPs this is critical because they’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 smart IoT technology also need to ensure that everything is working correctly. As more devices get attached to a network, this is even more crucial.

What are the benefits of network management tools?

What is a network management tool and what can you do with it? 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 really be in charge of it.
  • Generate tickets in your PSA tool when important network and device events occur which allows you to troubleshoot smart.
  • See if crucial devices are online from firewalls and routers, to wireless access points and managed switches are online and performing as expected.
  • Investigate network issues remotely because you can see exactly what’s happening on a network.
  • 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 goes back 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

What is a network management tool and what features do they usually include? This is a very important question to address. Network management tools include a wide range of 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 inter connected. 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 definitely want to monitor key components of the infrastructure, including firewalls, access points, routers and network switches.
  • Thirdly, network configuration changes. For security purposes you’ll want to be monitoring for 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 be monitoring the status of devices and get historical information about this.
  • 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 bit about what network monitoring is, how it works and common 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 backbone of the network like routers, firewalls, access points and switches. These are all the key components you’ll want to monitor.

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

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

Lastly, we cannot stress this one enough, choose software with good support. Its crucial to choose software that has excellent support because computer networking is not an easy field. Choose an experienced and reputable support team that can provide great 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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