How Does Network Monitoring Work? Should We Use It for Online Education?

Network monitoring is a process that monitors the system to analyze and measure its performance. Monitoring typically involves gathering data from agents deployed on managed systems, analyzing this data in near-real time, and generating alerts when thresholds are exceeded. It can be used for network management or as an intrusion detection system (IDS) to identify malicious activity.

What Does Network Monitoring Watch?

Network monitoring can be used to watch almost anything that happens on the network. It is commonly used to track traffic through routers and firewalls, but it can also monitor activity on individual computers, including file access or information about all active processes.

  • Bandwith Use: Bandwith is the amount of data transferred in a given time. Monitoring networks can help conserving bandwidth by limiting the number of individuals who are allowed to access specific sites or by analyzing which sites are using up most bandwidth.
  • Software Performance: Since network monitoring gathers information in real-time, it can detect if there’s too many users trying to access software at the same time, and if so it can limit or deny access to those who are actually using the system. This helps with server performance by only allowing the amount of users who need to use an application rather than everyone in a network.
  • Server Performance: When servers become overpopulated, there is too much data for them to handle. This slows down the processing time and reduces the performance of the server. Network monitoring tools help identify overpopulated servers, so they can be replaced with larger ones or more servers can be added to share the work.
  • Network Configuration: With network monitoring software, networks can be configured in different ways depending on its needs. For example, it can be set up to only allow access to specific websites, or it could be configured in a way where the users are allowed to visit different websites on certain days of the week.

Network Monitoring Tools

Network monitoring tools are often used by ISPs, enterprises, industrial organizations, governments and military agencies to monitor networks of computers including public utilities like power grids or transportation systems such as air traffic control towers or train stations.

They use sensors that collect information about their subjects at different points in time which allows them to track changes over time much more accurately than with traditional methods of manual inspection.

There are many network monitoring tools available in the market today. Some are free while others are not. Following is a list of some major players in this arena:

  • Nagios : A subscription-based network monitoring tool, distributed under GPLv2 license.
  • PRTG Network Monitor :Network monitoring tool distributed under commercial license.
  • SolarWinds NPM :A commercial version of SolarWinds’ server & application monitor tool.
  • Wireshark :A free software protocol analyzer for Unix and Windows systems.
  • pfSense :An open source firewall/router distribution FreeBSD distribution.

Benefits of Network Monitoring Tools

Network monitoring tools provide the following benefits:

  • Cost-effective : With network monitoring software you can save on labor costs for staff who would otherwise be sitting at screens manually checking things out.
  • Alerts : Network monitors detect problems before they become big issues so that corrective action can be taken quickly and efficiently before it becomes unmanageable.
  • Better User Experience : The end user can enjoy a much better experience since problems are detected and solved in time before the user even notices them.
  • Visibility : Organizations no longer have to go by theories or trust someone else’s diagnosis; instead they can see exactly what is happening on their networks.
  • Security: As it is always said, knowledge is power! This also applies when you know your network inside out, you gain an upper hand in protecting it. Threats are identified quickly and dealt with appropriately thus mitigating risk to the maximum possible extent.

Challenges of Network Monitoring

Network monitoring tools have their own set of challenges which need to be addressed for success of any enterprise- network monitoring program:

Administrative Costs

There exists a cost involved in setting up and maintaining such tools. They need to be set up and configured before they can start providing any benefit, their reports have to be closely monitored, and if not configured properly they may result in false positives or even false negatives which again wastes time and effort of the system administrators.

Understanding Network Topology

It is very important that the network administrator understands how the network works before deploying any auto-discovery or auto-configuration features of these tools because otherwise he/she will only end up wasting time chasing shadows without actually finding where the problem lies.

Need for Expertise

Networks are vast and complicated as such expertise is required to understand what the data is telling you and what needs to be done in order to fix any issue that arises.

Conclusion: Network monitoring tools are indeed helpful but they require expertise to use them effectively. Let us know if this article helped you understand how network monitoring works to conserve resources.

Should We Use Network Monitoring Tools for Education Resources?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” We’re going to increase our network monitoring capabilities and add some new tools.

When considering tools for your organization, be sure you have access to the support you need. This means making sure that the tool is easy to use, works with your systems, and includes great documentation.

Be sure to validate that the tools you choose are both effective in finding problems as well as educating users on how they can be more efficient.

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