What is Network Monitoring?
Network monitoring, or a network monitoring system, is an IT management tool that provides visibility into the performance and health of connected clients, applications, network devices, and more. Network monitoring systems also provide network traffic monitoring, Wi-Fi monitoring, switch monitoring, and more.
Network Monitoring Explained
Network management systems like HPE Aruba Networking Central centralize visibility, insights, and metadata into summary dashboards to provide a unified view of network performance, health, and other device details.
Network monitoring systems track all clients and applications connected to the network. Monitoring details for specific clients, applications, and network devices can be viewed by expanding various tables and widgets in the network monitoring system.
Network monitoring can be extended to network managers and end users via a user experience monitoring and testing dashboard like HPE Aruba Networking User Experience Insight.
Typical network monitoring dashboards and tools:
The network overview dashboard provides a high-level, global summary of all network assets, including devices, clients, and network traffic within your infrastructure. Wi-Fi monitoring, switch monitoring, and WAN monitoring details may include:
- Network device lists, client counts, and bandwidth usage
- Geographic map views by site and device type
- Tabs and dropdowns to view network health, AI insights, topology, and more.
The network health dashboard displays Wi-Fi monitoring, switch monitoring, WAN monitoring and other status details, typically sorted by site, group, or tags. Potential network issues are prioritized in each view. These may include:
- Up/down devices
- High memory usage
- High CPU usage
- High channel utilization
- High noise
- WAN uplink status
- WAN tunnel status
Additional details are accessed through dedicated dashboards focused on WAN health, site health, and more.
Client monitoring dashboards provide details of clients connected to the network through access points, switches, or gateways. Client metadata can also be observed, including:
- Client name
- Connectivity status
- IP Address
- MAC Address
- LLDP details
Application monitoring dashboards provide rich visibility into applications, websites, and services being used across the network. Details include client traffic and data usage to and from applications and websites and can be used by network administrators to apply network and security policies for improved performance and health. Types of applications that are monitored include, but are not limited to:
- On-premises applications
- SaaS applications
- IoT services
- Unified Communications
- Bonjour and DLNA services
Topology dashboards provide a two-dimensional graphical representation of network sites including general layouts, device details, and health of WAN uplinks and tunnels. Types of displayable devices include APs, gateways, switches, and switch stacks. With HPE Aruba Networking Central, visualization of third-party or unmanaged routers, switches, gateways, and APs are also supported.
Certain network monitoring tools also include floor plan management, which allow network administrators to plan, create, and maintain floor plans for locating network devices and clients. Floor plans typically provide a real-time or historical picture of the network environment—especially useful for understanding RF environment and location context.
Rogue detection and classification features help detect and classify intrusion events, and even contain rogue access points on a network.
IDS / WIDS
Intrusion detection systems (IDS) monitor the network or other systems for malicious activity or policy violations and report findings as alerts or events. Wireless intrusion detection systems (WIDS) are applications that monitor attacks on wireless networks based on pre-defined signatures. Types of intrusions include:
- Infrastructure attacks: These attacks are identified by the network device against infrastructure
- Client attacks: These attacks are identified by the network device against clients
Events are typically reported with the following details:
- Type of intrusion or attack detected
- Category of attack (infrastructure or client)
- Severity level and time of attack
- Station MAC and detecting device
- Details of the intrusion
AI insights dashboards display reports on Wi-Fi monitoring, switch monitoring, WAN monitoring and other network events that could affect the quality of overall network performance. Anomalies can be viewed along a temporal filter and observed at the network device (access point, switch, or gateway) connectivity, and client level. Each insight includes the number of occurrences and a recommendation or remediation option for more efficient troubleshooting. Example insights include:
- 802.1X authentication failures
- Excessive AP channel changes
- High DHCP failures
- Other anomalies
Wi-Fi monitoring or connectivity dashboards provide an overall view of wireless client connection details, including association, authentication, DHCP, DNS, and connection attempts. Experience is measured against a baseline comparison to connection attempts, failures, success, and delays.
Alerts and events
Alerts and events are typically generated for updates related to device provisioning, configuration, and user management. Notifications are delivered in-app and/or by email and include information such as:
- Date, time, and duration of incident
- Label, site, or group
- Collected data such as CLI logs or PCAPs
Reports and audits
Network management systems provide standard templates and customizable options for generating network status updates on an ad-hoc or regular basis. Reports for overall usage, inventory, network, clients, and more can be created and used to support internal status meetings, audits, compliance, and other purposes.
User experience insights
User experience monitoring measures network performance, stability, and overall health from a client perspective. Typical solutions use a software agent installed on a client device (e.g., Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows, Linux) or a synthetic client device that delivers insights and metadata to a centralized dashboard.