Comparing Network Managment Tools

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: May 27, 2011

Once a small business has set up a network, they need a good set of management tools to keep the system in proper running condition. These tools allow the administrator to monitor the network and be alerted to problems as they arise. They are also used for the general operation and maintenance of the system.

There are many types of network management tools available:

Configuration Management – This is one the most basic and important management tools. It allows the administrator to modify the configuration settings as needed (including NetFlow, IP SLA, and Quality of Service) and import and export shared templates. Many versions also provide real-time change notifications so you can know if the system has been modified without your permission.

Packet Sniffing – This tool allows you to observe and analyze data packets as they travel through your computer network. You can then discover their IP address, port number, MAC address, and protocol. This information can be of great benefit if you are trying to determine the usage trends for the system.

Network Auditing – This allows you to obtain an extensive view of the network and find any open ports or unused components. These tend to represent a security threat, and you can modify them as a preventative measure against outside attack. You can also use this management tool to detect vulnerabilities in the system that might be lowering your overall network performance.

Bandwidth Monitoring – This tool can help you observe the internet traffic on your network. If a particular computer is using a lot of bandwidth, you can be immediately alerted to this fact, as well as learn about any applications that might be the source of the problem. This can be particularly useful for large companies that have a substantial number of employees.

Wake-On-Lan – This tool can boot up a computer that is part of a network but not currently activated. This can be done on a manual or a scheduled basis, and even wake up a computer on a VLAN (virtual local area network.) It should be noted that the computer has to be configured ahead of time in order for this to work.

Uptime Monitoring – You can use this tool to determine the amount of time that a computer has been functional over a given period of time. This information is typically provided in a percentage and can help you figure out where future problems may arise. They can then take pre-emptive action like balancing loads in a different manner or purchasing upgrades to the system.

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