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Network monitoring + log management = A winning combination

Network Monitoring has traditionally been just logs and monitoring without added intelligence of correlation and analysis of this raw data.

SNMP an acronym used for is amongst standard internet protocols which is used for collecting as well as organizing information about managed devices on any IP network and for updating that information to alter device’s behavior. Devices that typically support Simple Network Management Protocol include cable routers,modems, servers, switches,printers,workstations, and much more.Where NMS is on the back burner or is not functional in terms of monitoring or extension of few existing NMS tool functionalities, scripts come into picture extensively used by System Admins..

Networks are now commonplace in an IT environment. Whether its internal or external use, a lot of machines are commonplace these days. The IT administrator would normally be in charge of network monitoring and security and might have different software for the same. Networks have to be monitored to make sure that the systems are always up, everything is running smoothly and no unauthorised personnel have access or the security is not compromised in any manner. There are several techniques of network monitoring and the most common ones can be summarised here:-

Ping

Ping refers to a network admin tool which is used to test the reachability and availability of any host in an IP network. The data from ping results can determine the activity of a host. Moreover, ping is capable of measuring both time taken for transmission and also measure packet loss incurred while communicating with any particular host.


Simple Network Management Protocol as a Network Monitoring Tool (SNMP)

Management data has been revealed through SNMP in the form of variables over managed systems aligned in a management information base also known as MIB which describes the system’s status and system’s configuration. Remote query can also be done over these devices (whereas in few circumstances, manipulated) by managing applications. Development and deployment for three version of SNMP has been done.SNMPv1, SNMPv2c and SNMPv3 have been significant evolutions which encompasses overall improvements in performance, flexibility and security.

Syslog

Quite a lot of times people confuse Syslog with Windows Eventlogs. Syslog refers to a message logging system which enables a device to send out notifications related to event over IP networks. The meaningful information through above mentioned messages may be utilised for security auditing & system management. Routers, printers, & firewalls and numerous other devices are all on which Syslogs are supported.

Using scripts as a monitoring tool

Most commonly used scripting tools by Network Admins are Perl, Bash Scripts etc. Commonly used commands which are supported by most of the n/w elements to complete an action, such as information collection from elements, making alterations to device configurations, or to carry out a scheduled task are lynx, ping, snmpwalk, netstat etc.

Most of these practices include log collection and since log management is also required under specific regulatory compliance like PCI,HIPAA,GLBA, and SOX regulations, it's crucial that the organisation investing in a network monitoring tools also checks that the tool has extra exceptional capabilities and are acquiescent with all these important requirements. Log management assists IT departments with the deviations from the usual and also helps with detection of security breach. Also, just in case the n/w suffers from some major failure the logs can help with swift issue identification and reduction of turnaround time for fixing glitches.

In case of packet switching networks packet flow, traffic flow or network flow is a series of packets from a source computer to a specific destination, which might be a multicast group, another host, or any broadcast domain. RFC 2722 defines traffic flow as "an artificial logical equivalent to a call or connection.” A Network flow is a series of events which occurs in a predefined/known manner and this can also be tracked down with the help of a log management tool. The network monitoring process involves keeping a track of the network flow which has been made possible with the help of log management processes.

A network monitoring tool without log management is just like a car with 3 wheels or a clock with just a minute hand. It won’t be much useful unless it also has the fourth wheel attached to it for its efficient and smooth running or with an hour hand for proper understanding. Log management is not just helpful for IT staff but for internal requirements as well, also to meet important compliance which differs from country to country. Most networking monitoring tools also come with included log collection tools but if this data is left unanalyzed, uncorrelated or not intelligently integrated with other metrics, then the network monitoring would not provide enough value in isolation. Network Monitoring combined with intelligent log management can prove to be a killer combination and has become a standard for most modern day solutions. It’s no longer considered as an add on but as a core feature of solutions for network monitoring .

Vanilla network monitoring is no longer a solution which can be bought. Unless the data is proved to be useful by analyzing and intelligently producing a result and also provides solutions the end result is just an outdated network monitoring tool. The market has evolved and the solution providers have realised the new developments tweaking their product offerings accordingly. Usually most of the current offerings have a mix of various tools which provide network monitoring and log management. So make sure if you are getting a network monitoring tool, check out its additional features and how it can provide additional value. If you have a network monitoring solution already in place, make sure you check out the updated solutions to find out how you can supercharge the network monitoring with log management and additional data.

We hope this information has proved to be useful for you in finding better solutions for your network monitoring needs. Keep following us for more updates on log management, network monitoring and similar solutions.

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Jitendra Dabhi is a 30 year guy working as SEO executive and a part time blogger at his Tech blog. He is very passionate about blogging and his area of interests are SEO & Internet Marketing.