Network-Monitoring-ToolsHuman beings are, by nature, superstitious creatures. It doesn’t take long for even the most rational of people, when confronted with something that seems to operate outside the laws of logic and probability, to resort to prayer, rain dancing or tarot cards. When it comes to network monitoring tools, many of us enter a similar mind-set when we can’t make sense of what we’re being told: how many times have you cursed your Network Monitoring Software (NMS) for lying to you, deliberately withholding information, or changing its mind at the last minute? Of course, the common problem behind these kinds of issues isn’t that your network monitoring tools are turning against you – it’s that you’re failing to listen to what it’s really telling you. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of NMS, and shed some light on the truth behind them.

Your Network Monitoring System doesn’t share your point of view.

A common mistake that network managers make is to assume their Network Monitoring Tools share their point-of-view. It’s easy to forget that your NMS has no outside context to your network environment, and even easier to forget the extent to which the external environment surrounding your network environment influences your understanding of it. Troubleshooting with your NMS can be problematic because it lacks the ‘big picture’ – it only knows what exists within the confines of your network environment. And for organisations that operate large-scale Wide Area Networks (WANs) across vast geographic distances, your NMS might only know what goes on within a certain district of your environment. Be aware of what your NMS has no way of knowing, like changes in the physical environment of your organisation, and how this could impact the reliability of your Network Reporting.

Network Monitoring Systems can’t predict everything about your network environment.

While there’s a lot that your NMS can predict, it’s important to be aware of what it can’t. Once again, your monitoring software only understands your internal network environment – anything that happens in the ‘real world’ that might impact configuration or service needs to be closely monitored and factored in to network monitoring and tests. For example, if you are hiring a large number of new employees, your network monitoring tools aren’t likely to warn you that your current capacity will be exceeded when the additional load is added to your network environment. Your NMS might not know that a crucial system software update is about to be automatically downloaded onto each computer in your environment, but chances are that you or one of your staff received some kind of notification. Network engineers need to rely on more than just the reports generated by their network monitoring tools to effectively manage their network environment, and this often requires taking a holistic look at all the factors influencing the environment, both inside and out.

Your Network Monitoring Tool doesn’t have malicious intent – listen to what it’s telling you.

Here’s a fairly common situation in an IT department: a network engineer keeps getting reports of a fault on a service. After a brief investigation, nothing seems to be wrong and the engineer in question goes back to his daily grind. A while later, another notification arrives, but investigating the error comes up dry once again. This keeps happening until your engineer assumes that the network monitoring tools are either faulty or lying. Then, a month or two later, the link in question suddenly goes down with no explanation. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it’s not so much a case of faulty network reporting tools as it is an oblivious network engineer. Technology certainly has its limitations, but for all the frustrations and communication gaps we experience when dealing with our silicon companions, they do have a saving grace: honesty. Computers are not programmed to lie and network engineers would do well to listen to what their NMS is telling them, even if it doesn’t seem to make much sense initially.

IRIS is a trusted provider of network monitoring tools and network systems with over 20 years’ experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. To find out more about our uniquely scalable and customizable NMS, visit our website or contact us for more information.

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