Cisco Network Monitoring Tools: The Top Four Features You Need

The quality of the services you provide – and the resulting business outcomes – are heavily reliant on the infrastructure that supports and delivers these services. The health and wellness of the infrastructure is critical.

To reach a state of wellness, your business depends on IT teams and the tools they use. Of all the tools on hand, network management systems play a significant role. A basic requirement for any network management system is the ability to monitor the devices and elements that make up your infrastructure.

As a manager, the performance of your network management system has a direct correlation to your ability to deliver services, increase profitability and drive customer satisfaction.

In the world of Cisco infrastructure, what are some of the key features when it comes to network monitoring tools? Here’s a look at four crucial ones:

1. Comprehensive Surveillance

In order to monitor the diverse elements of a network, it is necessary to first bring these elements under the surveillance umbrella. For smaller systems, it might still be possible to do this manually, but as you scale to larger, real-world applications, this rapidly becomes cumbersome.

Network monitoring tools that have the ability to automatically build a picture of the Cisco infrastructure directly address this issue. Full-stack monitoring capabilities provide deep support for all elements in your infrastructure from switches, to routers, to apps and to end points.

Today’s tools provide ongoing discovery to create alerts on adds, moves and changes to ensure unauthorized changes aren’t being made. They also detect rogue devices and ensure the management system is up to date in case of an error – for example, where someone forgot to model the change.

2. Performance Visibility

Once a device is brought into your management ecosystem, it becomes necessary to be able to look for the right kind of information. For this to happen, monitoring tools must be able to use the right protocols to access this data. Automation driven around templates can rapidly determine the kinds of performance data to monitor – and the parameters associated with them – based on the specific device type.

Once this is done, the data from the device can be used in a variety of ways to monitor the performance of both the device and the infrastructure as a whole. Network monitoring tools that provide visibility into performance can also be used to determine which parts of the infrastructure need to be improved. As the needs of the business services you provide evolve, this facilitates capacity planning.

3. Root Cause Analysis

Finding the root cause of issues is the most time-consuming part of solving them. Many products on the market will do correlation to simply suppress downstream alarms and point to the first unresponsive device it sees as the root cause of an outage. But to really reduce MTTR, it is important to verify what the issue is and pinpoint the true cause.

Look for tools that are capable of performing additional interrogation of IT services to understand the true cause of the problem prior to reporting it. Your management system should understand relationships and look at issues from multiple locations and with multiple methods to understand the cause of the issue. It can then take steps to fix it, verify whether it is fixed, and create a trouble ticket identifying the issue as informational or a problem that must be addressed.

Multi-perspective analysis quickly and accurately pinpoints root cause and reduces false alarms by looking at problems from multiple viewpoints. Reducing MTTR and false alarms ensures business service issues are resolved quickly to maintain smooth business operation.

4. Reporting Capabilities

Network monitoring tools gather a wealth of information by their very nature. They provide information into the scope of the infrastructure and the performance of the overall system, they assist with problem management, and they help with remediation. A valuable addition that complements these capabilities is the ability of a monitoring tool to provide reports.

Dashboards, logs and other visualization techniques provide valuable insights into the many aspects of network management systems that lie outside the scope of basic monitoring. They provide the capability to better troubleshoot issues.

The information around scope and makeup of the infrastructure enables better inventory control and easier capacity planning. Performance information can also be used to glean valuable insights using data mining and analysis, which leads to better-optimized network operations.

Monitoring capabilities are the bedrock of all other infrastructure management activities. As your network increases in complexity – via the number of devices that make up the network multiplying, and via more and more services running on the network – it becomes increasingly important for your monitoring tools to incorporate the features discussed in this post.

Extra points if your tools are consolidated – that will help enable your business to perform at its maximum potential.

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