Why you need network monitoring systems and what they can do for you
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
No enterprise can function efficiently without the use of network availability monitoring tools. Assessing and troubleshooting network devices to ensure their availability is a fundamental requirement in today's data centers -- especially as demand for always-accessible applications and services continues to build.
Although no one tool fits every network, understanding your organization's requirements and the complexity of your network will help determine which enterprise network monitoring tools will offer the most benefit. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of tools that address networks of all sizes -- from the smallest of businesses to very large organizations and service providers. To help you learn more about network availability monitoring tools, SearchNetworking is profiling some of the leading vendors.
Centerity Systems' Monitor is a business service management (BSM) product that's often deployed as a network availability monitor. It provides cross-domain infrastructure monitoring capabilities with a strong core of enterprise network monitoring functionality.
Centerity also monitors servers, storage, virtualization software, databases, applications and cloud-based services. The product was recently validated to provide monitoring for SAP HANA in-memory environments. It also offers out-of-the-box support for monitoring internet-of-things devices, such as cameras, air conditioners and automated doors. Users can create customized packs for monitoring devices that Centerity doesn't support out of the box.
The product provides live network maps and graphs, with drill-down root-cause analysis of infrastructure problems. It can present topology maps of VMware-based virtual infrastructure, as well as basic availability and performance monitoring, and reports on infrastructure performance map service levels. A user experience monitoring module extends that BSM capability further, allowing IT administrators to enforce user-based service-level agreements.
Centerity Monitor provides real-time and historical data analysis. Users can drill down into either and isolate specific metrics for analysis. The product also offers asset and configuration management features with ticket-based controls.
Centerity doesn't offer a free demo of the product, but network service provider CenturyLink offers a free demo version to its cloud customers.
Centerity Monitor is available in three editions. The Standard Edition is designed for SMBs, with basic performance and availability monitoring capabilities. The Enterprise Edition is aimed at large enterprises. Centerity Fusion is for extremely large networks, with multi-domain management and a highly scalable Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) polling engine. Fusion is aimed primarily at service providers and very large enterprises.
The large network editions include distributed monitoring nodes that collect and analyze data across multiple network sites. But Centerity offers a front-end console that presents the various nodes as a single logical network, with event correlation and root-cause analysis.
Centerity offers perpetual and subscription licenses that are tiered based on the number of metrics monitored versus the typical approach of device-based license tiering. This approach lets an enterprise monitor a small number of metrics on one class of device while monitoring a large number of metrics on another.
Professional services for deploying Centerity Monitor are optional. The product is deployed as a single software image, with database and polling engines embedded. This simplifies deployment, but limits the flexibility of deployment options for larger enterprises.
The product has a web-based, front-end console with dashboards, maps, graphs and service views.
All versions of Centerity Monitor come with technical and maintenance support. Customers can access an online knowledge base with video guides, user forums, incident tickets, templates, plug-ins and service packets.
GroundWork Monitor is an open source unified infrastructure management platform that's often used as a network availability monitor. The company has combined multiple open source management tools into a fully integrated and commercially supported management system.
The product is a cross-silo infrastructure monitoring tool aimed at SMBs. In addition to networks, it monitors servers, storage and virtualization, applications and cloud services. Support was recently added for monitoring Docker, Google and Linux containers.
GroundWork Monitor can discover a wide variety of networking and non-network devices. It includes alarm management and alarm-event management correlation features. The monitor uses its understanding of network topology to suppress superfluous alarms. It ships with free monitoring profile packs, which simplify the process of configuring the product for monitoring specific applications and services on the network.
GroundWork offers a manual process for overlaying network infrastructure on geographic maps. Users can upload the image of a floor plan, topology, architectural software diagram or geographic map. Then, they can overlay GroundWork's performance and availability indicators on the image and drill down into those indicators for further analysis. The system's performance visualization features enable users to set dynamic thresholding and spot performance bottlenecks.
The system gathers data from the network via SNMP, APIs, intelligent platform management interfaces, and a variety of other protocols and interfaces. Via these APIs, GroundWork has added the ability to monitor hybrid cloud environments. It integrates with cloud providers via a REST API, and it has out-of-the-box support for Amazon Web Services and OpenStack. GroundWork also recently added monitoring support for software-defined networks. It makes REST API calls to the open source OpenDaylight SDN controller, along with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and VMware NSX. The company's strong focus on server monitoring is bolstered by partnerships with VMware and Red Hat.
GroundWork Monitor ships with a machine log analytics capability known as Log Bridge, which has bidirectional integration with infrastructure monitoring. It lets organizations combine enterprise network monitoring with machine data monitoring for improved root-cause analysis and forensic analysis. This feature offers compliance reporting features for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley Act. GroundWork also integrates with Splunk, a third-party log analytics tool.
GroundWork's annual subscription license includes device-based pricing and customer support. The company offers 24/7, internally staffed phone support across all geographies. Users can also access an online knowledge base and community forums.
A free community edition of GroundWork is available for download on SourceForge. The company offers no commercial support for this version and makes no guarantees that it's fit for use as a production network monitoring platform.
ManageEngine OpManager is an IT management platform that includes a full set of enterprise network monitoring features. It is aimed at enterprises of all sizes, as well as service providers, but is most popular among SMBs.
OpManager comes in four versions. The free version lets sites monitor and manage up to 10 devices. The other versions are all capable of managing up to 50,000 devices or 1 million interfaces. The primary differences between the paid versions are in pricing, their ability to implement distributed network monitoring and what add-ons are included in the license model.
OpManager automatically discovers and maps network devices using SNMP, Internet Control Message Protocol, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Telnet. It periodically rescans the network to ensure its maps are up to date. Users can export maps to Microsoft Visio for fast sharing with other administrators. The maps represent both Layer 2 and 3 networks. It runs on either a Windows or Linux server.
The system uses SNMP and other communications methods to monitor the health and availability of switches, routers, servers and other devices. This availability data can be visualized in charts, graphs and on the topology maps the system assembles. OpManager can also monitor WAN link availability and performance in Cisco routers using that vendor's IPservice-level agreement (IP SLA) feature. The Cisco IP SLA support also enables OpManager to monitor voice over IP.
The network fault management features of OpManager will alert users via text, email and mobile app. Users can log into the main system to troubleshoot problems using the system's process diagnostics, switch port mapper and management information base browser features.
The system ships with 100 different report formats, and users can create custom reports, with variables based on any monitoring data the system collects. The database and polling engine are embedded, but users have the option of connecting an external database.
OpManager includes an IP address management plug-in that can track and manage the details of each IP address assigned on the network, as well as a network change and configuration management plug-in. A network flow analysis plug-in lets users track and analyze network traffic performance using the NetFlow protocol.
ManageEngine licenses OpManager based on the number of devices being monitoring. The Essential Edition can monitor up to 25 devices. OpManager Plus is essentially the same product, but it includes discounted pricing for bundling add-ons, such as NetFlow, network configuration management and specific firewall management capabilities. Additional licensing for both products is available.
The Enterprise Edition can be configured in a distributed mode, if needed. Minimum device monitoring licensing starts at 500 devices. Unlike the Essential and Plus editions, which offer only perpetual licenses, the Enterprise Edition provides an annual subscription model. Telephone and email support are available 24/5, and the support agreement guarantees acknowledgement of a trouble ticket within one business day. ManageEngine offers product training and certification on OpManager.
ScienceLogic offers an eponymous cross-domain infrastructure management product with a full set of enterprise network monitoring capabilities. Formerly known as ScienceLogic EM7, the product appeals to companies of all sizes, but has a particular appeal among medium-sized enterprises and managed service providers.
In addition to enterprise network monitoring, ScienceLogic can monitor storage, servers, applications and public cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and VMware vCloud Air. This broad set of monitoring capabilities enables the product to automatically map cross-technology dependencies. Many customers use the product to monitor their entire IT environment, including the public cloud.
The system automatically discovers infrastructure elements, including physical, virtual and cloud-based resources. It uses a wide variety of methods to discover devices, including SNMP, WMI and cloud provider APIs. ScienceLogic then applies specific monitoring polices to each type of device. It discovers and inventories all IP and Media Access Control addresses and interface speeds.
After the discovery phase, the system automatically assembles infrastructure dependency maps across the internal infrastructure and cloud resources, with live monitoring data displayed in context on the map. The system also includes an inventory and asset management feature.
ScienceLogic monitors network interface utilization, latency, errors, discards and other metrics via SNMP, Ping and other methods. It has an alarm and event management feature, with customizable threshold settings. It also provides visual dashboards and real-time reporting on the availability and performance of devices and network services.
ScienceLogic's tiered licensing model is based on the number and size of devices being monitored. The license price is also tied to the degree of monitoring, which means users may pay one price for availability monitoring and a higher price for availability and performance monitoring. The product is sold both directly and via channel partners.
The system can be deployed locally on a server or in the public cloud. ScienceLogic also offers a hosted software-as-a-service version. Large, widely dispersed networks can deploy a hybrid system that uses two or more deployment options with a single pane of glass for management. ScienceLogic offers professional services for installation, deployment and tuning, as well as product training and certifications.
One year of technical support is included, and ScienceLogic provides 24/7 phone support and standard email and web support options. It also includes access to download and install software updates and patches. Support customers can participate in product beta tests on new features and propose new capabilities on the product roadmap.
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