What is network monitoring? To some, it is tracking Internet usage and data packets. To others it is simply making sure that the computers that need to be up are up. Network monitoring has many great uses across a wide spectrum of businesses. Most noteworthy however is the role of network monitoring as a critical IT function that can save both time and money.

Here are my top ten reasons why every business should have a network monitoring plan in place:

1. Know what is happening

Network monitoring solutions keep you informed about the operation and connectivity of your devices and resources on your network. It is important to be able to detect rogue access points and saturation of network resources. It is also helpful to have access to real-time mapping and track user activity anywhere on your wireless infrastructure. The ability to automatically discover, map, track and document what’s deployed across your entire infrastructure gives you the most up-to-date picture of your network at all times. Without these features, you have to wait until someone tells you something is down before you can fix it.

2. Plan for upgrades or changes

If a device is constantly down, or the bandwidth to a specific subnet is constantly running near the limit, it may be time to make a change. Network monitoring applications allow you to track this type of data and make appropriate changes with ease.

3. Diagnose problems quickly

One of your servers is unreachable from the intranet. Unfortunately, without network monitoring, you may not be able to tell if the problem is the server, the switch the server is connected to, or the router. Knowing exactly where the problem is saves you time.

4. Show others what is going on

Graphical reports go a long way in explaining the health of, and activity on, your network. They’re great tools in providing an SLA or showing that a troublesome device needs replacing.

5. Know when to apply your disaster recovery solutions

With enough warning, you can transfer the operation of important servers to a backup system until the primary system can be repaired and brought back online. Without network monitoring, you may not know there is a problem until it is too late.

6. Make sure your security systems are operating properly

Companies spend a lot of money on security software and hardware. Without a network monitoring solution, how can you be sure that your security devices are up and running as configured?

7. Keep track of your customer-facing resources

Many devices on your network are really just applications running on a server (HTTP, FTP, mail and so on). Network monitoring can watch these applications and make sure your customers can connect to the servers and are seeing what they need to see.

8. Be informed of your network status from anywhere

Many network monitoring applications provide remote viewing and management from anywhere with an Internet connection. That way, if you’re on holiday and a problem crops up, you can log into your Web interface and see what’s wrong.

9. Ensure customer uptime

If you have customers depending on your network for their business, you have to be sure they’re up and running at all times. Would you rather know that moment a problem occurs and fix it before your customer finds out, or get that angry phone call?

10. Save money

Above all, network monitoring helps you cut down on the total amount of downtime and time it takes to investigate problems. This translates to fewer man-hours and less money when problems occur.