A network traffic monitoring tool is one of the basic building blocks of an organization’s network architecture and is imperative in ensuring that your network is secure and up and running.
Challenges of network traffic monitoring and why you need a network traffic monitor tool
Manually monitoring devices all day, especially in larger organizations, is not a practical approach, as the performance of every device in your network — mission critical and non-mission critical — affects your overall network health and performance. Network traffic monitoring software can solve numerous challenges, including:
Lack of end-to-end visibility into bandwidth usage and network traffic activity over all devices.
Identifying bandwidth hogs and the root cause of network performance issues.
Balancing real-time and historical data monitoring.
Lack of an alerting system.
Lack of a security strategy.
Capacity and growth planning.
Network traffic monitoring tools keep an eye on your entire network including devices, users, apps, servers, access points, and interfaces along with their statuses, and notifies network admins when the network requires their attention. It saves your business a lot of money, time, and resources while preventing and reducing the risk of issues popping up in your network.
What to look for in a network traffic monitor tool
With a huge range of free network traffic monitoring tools to choose from, picking the right tool for your network environment can be challenging. Here’s what to look for in an ideal network traffic monitoring tool:
Monitoring features -Network traffic monitoring is the primary and basic requirement for any network traffic monitor software. Ensure that apart from basic metrics like IN and OUT traffic and bandwidth utilization, it monitors metrics like jitter, response time, latency, and other metrics crucial to your business to give you complete network visibility.
Alerts - Network admins cannot monitor every single device in your network 24x7, which is why receiving alerts and notifications in real-time is as important as having a tool that monitors devices. Real-time alerts help notify you about network issues that have been identified and need troubleshooting
Security - Network security threats are becoming harder to detect and mitigate, and having a built-in network security system in your traffic monitoring software will ensure any security threat or attack that surpasses your firewall is tracked down and diagnosed before it brings your entire network down.
Reports - A good network traffic monitor should allow you to generate historical and real-time reports to help you analyze and understand bandwidth usage patterns and network traffic behavior, enabling you to understand your network better, find and fix any underlying issues in your network, and plan growth.
API integration - Your network monitoring tool may not be the only tool you'll ever need. It's important to find a tool that can scale up, includes customizable plug-ins and add-ons, and can seamlessly integrate with other tools. This will help you meet all your network needs from a single console without having to switch between multiple tools
Budget - Planning the expenses and budget is one of the first things to take into consideration, as network traffic monitor tools are a long term investment. While there are a lot of open-source and free network monitoring tools available — many as good as commercial network traffic monitoring tools — they require a lot more time, effort, and resources. These tools are also not tailor-made for your network, cannot be customized to suit your requirements, and come with a limited set of features.
Technical support - As good a tool may be, it is essential to ensure it has reliable technical support to help you use the tool to best suit your network’s needs.
Scalability - Keep in mind that your network may eventually grow. A network traffic monitoring tool that provides scalability for future network expansion is ideal for any network.
Customizability - Customizability and ease of maintenance are essential qualities to look for in a free network traffic monitoring tool. This includes being able customize plans that are tailor-made to suit your network requirements and having an easy to manage interface that can be customized to your dynamic network traffic monitoring needs.
ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a comprehensive, flow-based, highly scalable bandwidth monitoring and network traffic analysis tool that helps you monitor network traffic to gain in-depth visibility into your network devices, interfaces, apps, conversations, bandwidth usage, and network traffic. NetFlow Analyzer is a part of the ManageEngine ITOM suite that functions as Windows and Linux network traffic monitoring and monitors all major devices and flow formats such as NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow, IPFIX, and AppFlow. Click here to get a free, personalized demo!