Network monitor

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Network monitor: Pandora FMS

In this article we’ll introduce the main characteristics that a network monitor should have, their advantages and how to know if it’s a good time to install one for our company. Plus, we’ll talk about the specific network monitor, Pandora FMS.

We must bear in mind that a network monitor  can be used for networks that range from 5 components, up to 10,000.

Network monitoring will allow us to find bottlenecks and will allow us to know the network and its topology.

Pandora FMS offers a network monitor both in its open version and its Enterprise version, which can be expanded with many other features according to a company’s needs.

What is a network monitor?

The main function that a network monitor has is monitoring all types of traffic among all types of devices. By device we understand any element that can be introduced into a network (printers, servers, desktop PCs, switches, firewalls, etc.).

When can I use a network monitor?

On many occasions it’s thought that a network monitor is solely for large companies that manage thousands of different network elements on various networks and subnetworks.

At Pandora FMS we always insist on the fact that, independently from the solution chose, network monitoring is a core activity for any company. If your business is to provide customer service, and this service depends on your infrastructure, then you absolutely have to monitor your network to be able to detect issues and prevent your clients from suffering a service downtime.

In case your customer service is independent from your networks and devices, you must keep in mind that the moment you start using your own personal email server, DHCP systems, DNS or otherwise, then your network must be monitored.

It’s very important not to delay a network monitor installation so that later you won’t have to rush and make hasty decisions when the management and error detection issues are alerady on top of us.
If you’re a large company or wish to be so, I recommend you continue reading this article, where you can see our opinion on the best  network monitoring tools.

Main characteristics of a network monitor

It’s very important to know what characteristics we need to take into account when choosing a network monitor. Whether or not the network monitor has the following features will be vital to be sure that the tool we choose is the correct one. Use this checklist if you’re evaluating network monitors.

  • It must be able to configure and send alerts to the largest possible amount of channels (mail, SMS, Push, Whatsapp, etc.).
  • User friendliness where the networks and their components appearing on the dashboard must be identifiable and easy to use.
  • The possibility to detect devices and components automatically will save us a lot of time.
  • The tool must be able to escalate without reducing performance. With Pandora FMS up to 10,000 elements have been monitored with the open version and 100,000 with the Enterprise edition.
  • The tool itself must be able to understand and analyze the largest number of protocols possible: UDP, TCP, IP, SNMP, HTTP, DNS, Radius, etc.
  • Let’s not forget that virtual devices also belong to a network and in the same physical device you can emulate various digital devices. Because of this we must check that our network monitor correctly integrates with virtual devices.
  • If your company has cloud servers, then you’ll also need to check that the network monitor integrates with the company that offers said cloud service.

Monitor de red - topología de una red - Pandora FMS
A network topology with 5000 nodes, as seen with Pandora FMS

Benefits of using a network monitor

The first benefit that a good network monitor will bring will be cost reduction. Being able to view all the components of a network on the same panel, as well as knowing the network traffic status will allow us to:

  • Improve demand management on our HW devices.
  • Find old devices we may not have known the existence of, with consequent recovery.
  • Inventory our components in order to manage them with more ease.
  • Detect network issues in a simple way, to tackle them as soon as possible.

Automated alarms will allow us to be more calm and also reduce time solving instances, while impacting as little as possible on the service offered by our applications.

Monitor de red- visión monitorización de red - Pandora FMS
Control panel view for a monitored  sample network.

Installing and configuring Pandora FMS network monitor

A network monitor is one of the parts and services that Pandora FMS software offers. It’s importan within the architecture and it was one of the first components created for Pandora FMS.

It doesn’t matter if your network has 5, 100 or 10,000 elements. Visiting the following links you’ll find information to install Pandora FMS on  CentOS and Suse or, if you prefer, you may access this page where you’ll be able to download the network monitor on an image in order to start working right away. The .iso file includes a modified version of CentOS with Pandora FMS preinstalled. More information here. The documents on version 6.0 will be needed to fully understand Pandora FMS and how to install it on different environments, and can be found in our documents page.

Monitor de red - Arquitectura de Pandora FMS - Pandora FMS
Pandora FMS Architecture

We hope this article is useful whether or not your should decide to choose Pandora FMS as your network monitor. A little advice is that, if you thinks that your number of elements to monitor can raise significantly, make sure that the tool you choose can also raise its features along with your demand.

Finally, don’t forget that in order to perform good monitoring, we must unite network and system monitoring. Although we’re going to leave that second part for our next article.

What did you think about this article? Do you think that there are more characteristics to look for when choosing a network monitor? Have you tested Pandora FMS? What did you think?

Author: Javier

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