Today's computer system and network monitoring technologies can be very proactive in nature and even warn of potential problems in advance so corrective action can be taken.

Basic Monitoring -- Ping, Port & URL

The most basic level of monitoring tells if something is available or not. Ping monitoring says if an IP address is alive, port monitoring says if a specific port at an IP address is reachable, and URL monitoring says if a specific web site page is alive. These do not measure performance, but can tell if something needs to be fixed. Basic monitoring provides no advance warning, so the corrective actions they initiate will be reactive in nature.

Server Performance Monitoring

This is the next level of monitoring and where the majority of monitoring services end. The methodology to perform this monitoring depends on the operating system on the server. The items being monitored would include such things as CPU usage, server load, disk utilization, memory usage, and data about the log files. This monitoring can provide advance warning about upcoming system problems if the thresholds for the alerts are set properly. For example, if the upper alert level for disk usage is set at 85% or 90% you would be able to take action prior to the disk becoming full.

Custom Performance Monitoring

Almost every piece of equipment on a company's LAN or WAN can be monitored via SNMP polling. The problem is that few monitoring companies are willing learn a specific device's management information base so they can create the correct SNMP call. If your computer system and network is truly mission critical this extra level of monitoring can make all the difference. You will either need to commit the internal resources or find a monitoring company that will develop custom SNMP calls.

Transaction & Application Monitoring

Many monitoring packages can tell you if an application is alive or dead, but few companies monitor the response time of transactions or applications. This can make a huge difference as an application can be alive but so slow that no customer or employee can use it. For example, this type of monitoring could be used to ensure the response time of shopping cart transactions for ecommerce companies or how fast server based applications responded to employees.

Bandwidth Monitoring

The high cost of telecom pipelines makes bandwidth monitoring a necessity. It provides a way to optimize the size of your telecom pipelines, identify bottlenecks, capacity plan, verify bills, and eliminate illegal usage.