The functions of a network monitor have changed over time. At one point, a network
monitor was limited to watching a company's communication interfaces and receiving
notification if they were down. Today, a network monitor can be much broader in
scope and involve the proactive performance measurement of computer hardware and
communication pipelines to ensure they operate within a specified range.
Basic Network Monitor
In its most basic form a network monitor sends a notification that something is
no longer working or is not available. This would include ping, port, URL and most
web site monitoring. The notification is reactive in nature and allows you to know
that something needs to be fixed. The use of this network monitor should be limited
to companies that can afford to have their computer system down while repairs are
Advanced Network Monitor
For companies that want to avoid system or network outages, the network monitor
needs to be much more proactive. A proactive network monitor would involve taking
performance measurements of such things as CPU usage, server load, disk utilization,
and memory usage. It might include the SNMP polling of every piece of equipment
on the company's LAN or WAN. A network monitor could even measure the response time
of transactions and applications that are critical to the company or its bandwidth
utilization. If any of these measurements were outside of preset boundaries the
network monitor would send an alert so corrective action could be taken before the
situation became critical. All the performance measurements taken by this network
monitor also are stored in a database for trend analysis and capacity planning.
The best network monitor also includes a trouble ticket system that automatically
generates a trouble ticket when an alert is sent. This creates an audit trail, ensures
that alerts are not ignored, and provides administrative control of the process.
A network monitor is well worth the investment and is something you should ask your
hosting company to provide.