Buyer's Handbook:

How to buy network performance monitoring tools

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Which monitoring tools suit your enterprise network design?

As enterprise network design becomes more complex and more distributed, the tools companies use to keep tabs on network and application performance are changing as well.

No longer just products that rely on ICMP ping and the Simple Network Management Protocol to deliver results, today's monitoring tools are multifaceted. As such, they analyze enterprise network design problems, capture application and data flow, perform root cause analysis and detect problems with virtualization and operating system software. Armed with this information, IT can not only keep tabs on network and application performance, but address problems before they become serious.

These capabilities become even more important as applications become more intricate and discrete. Applications must be properly identified and treated. A low-latency application like video conferencing needs to have a higher priority than one in which response time isn't as critical. At the same time, individual application components, which may come from various third-party providers, must also be managed correctly.

Virtualization and network overlays, meantime, pose additional monitoring challenges. Fortunately, most network performance monitoring applications can track both physical and virtualized environments to pinpoint where a performance problem may exist.

Selecting the right network and application performance monitoring tool will depend on a wide variety of factors, not the least of which is understanding your enterprise's network design and the challenges that network currently faces today.

You'll also want to know what kind of methods your monitoring tool will use to collect performance data. Some use agents; others use dedicated hardware probes.

Whatever approach you plan to take, we hope this buyer's handbook will help you make the right decision.