Information, as we know all too well today, is power. With our data-heavy culture and the increasing ease with which we can access and interpret large sums of information, it’s tempting for network managers to monitor everything they possibly can. But while there are obvious benefits to keeping informed about the flow of information through your environment, there’s a point at which your monitoring protocols could start eating away at valuable network resources. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the risks of over-monitoring your network, and how to avoid becoming a network monitoring megalomaniac.

Network Monitoring is not a mission-critical process

Even though it’s important to keep informed about how your network is performing, always bear in mind that network monitoring is not a mission-critical process, and it should be treated as such. Ultimately, if your Network Monitoring Software goes down, it won’t have any impact to sales, logistics or productivity – it’s the network itself that is critical to the function of your business. If even one area of your network is compromised, there could be repercussions across your entire organisation. It’s easy to get sucked in by the numbers and statistics provided by your Network Monitoring Software, but your environment will continue to function without it, and it’s important to be aware of when your monitoring practices need to take a back seat. With a proactive monitoring solution, it’s also possible to estimate the performance of your network at different points and use this as a guide when your Network Monitoring Software is unavailable.

Over-monitoring puts unnecessary strain on your environment

To get an accurate idea of the way your network environment functions, it’s important that your monitoring is consistent in both peak and off-peak hours. However, in times of increased demand on your resources, your Network Monitoring Software could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. There are many different avenues for network managers to measure the performance of their networks, and each has a different impact on the environment.

Unnecessary active monitoring could cripple your network

Active, or synthetic monitoring, relies on injecting test packets into your network environment, and is better suited to proactively addressing problems before they arise – but the extra network traffic could put strain on resources if left unchecked. A common mistake that network managers make is to over-budget bandwidth for active monitoring programs – it’s possible to get valuable insights from relatively small traffic volumes, so try to establish a medium between actionable reports and acceptable network performance.

Passive monitoring isn’t as passive as you might think

Although passive monitoring techniques don’t rely on injecting traffic into the environment, they are typically less bandwidth-intensive than active methods. However, the polling required for data collection, as well as the traps and alarms that come with it, all contribute to network traffic density. It’s important not to over-provision on passive monitoring, as extra resources can easily be consumed for very little additional benefit. Depending on the hardware you’re using, you may also have passive monitors built-in that automatically monitor data and can be periodically audited for more general trends and performance analyses.

Be smart about the way you monitor your network

Understanding the requirements and context of your network environment goes a long way towards knowing how to go about monitoring it. Establishing a good baseline and being aware of when your usage veers to either side of it is useful, as it allows you to scale your monitoring efforts according to how your network is performing. Of course, you’ll need to do a fair amount of initial monitoring in order to find out where your baseline is, and adjust it periodically to ensure that it remains accurate. It’s advisable to keep active monitoring to a minimum during peak usage, but keeping essential, low-bandwidth monitoring protocols functioning at all times. Ultimately, be as smart as possible with your measurements – is it really necessary to make 500 calls simultaneously, or could you get away with 5 instead? Do you need a full-mesh topography for SLA tests, or will readings from your major nodes suffice? Network Monitoring Software makes it possible to gather a huge amount of data, but it’s up to you to sift the valuable information from the chaff.

IRIS Network Systems offers in-depth Network Monitoring Software that is customisable to your network’s unique context and needs. Our software offers a central monitoring solution that can streamline and optimise your network processes. To find out more about how IRIS can help your network reach its peak, please download a free copy of our Network Manager’s Guide to a Stable and Highly Available Network today.

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