Network Monitoring is a Grayscale, Not Black and White

Network monitoring station

by | March 30, 2017 | Networking

Network Monitoring: Many Shades of Gray

Traditionally, networks have been monitored through pinging or polling network elements such as routers and switches to determine if they’re online or offline. This is often done at long intervals, such as every one or five minutes. This type of network monitoring enables the dreaded ‘network down’ alerts at 3 a.m. that are the source of nightmares for every network ops person. It also provides only two possible states: up or down.

Depiction of network up or down states in black and white

For a long time, this amount of information was almost all a good network ops team could absorb. It was a difficult job to just keep the network online. However, network equipment has become more reliable and operators have built networks with hardware and path redundancy. This makes it less likely that a node or ‘network down’ event will happen.

Modernizing Network Performance Monitoring

This has also allowed network operators to manage based on more than simple ‘up or down’ status information. We think of this as the ‘many shades of gray’ of network management.

Depiction of spectrum of gray between network up and down states

As you can see in the image above, there’s essentially an infinite amount of gray between up and down. The need to understand the grayscale is the driving force for the move from network reporting to network telemetry.

Network Telemetry graph with granularity and sample rate
Network Telemetry vs Reporting. Click here to learn more. 

Finding the Gray in Your Network

Exposing the grayscale that already exists in your network comes down to the metrics measured by your network telemetry platform. To some extent, this is related to the specific equipment deployed in your network.

For example, a TLS proxy may be impacted by the total number of TCP connections or the number of new TCP connections per second. Similarly, some network equipment is sensitive to the packet-per-second rate and packet size.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with some of these acronyms, check out our handy fixed wireless glossary!

Extracting network telemetry metrics specific to particular types of equipment or applications can be useful and interesting. However, there’s a more fundamental set of metrics that every network needs to understand to deliver good quality to its users. We think of these metrics as the ‘physics’ of networks. We’ve worked hard to build a platform that brings this information to network operators at a high granularity and also at short intervals.

The three metrics that every network should track at high granularity (at each endpoint such as a customer or device) and at a short interval (<10s) are throughput, latency, and loss.

These metrics control the performance of every use case and application your network delivers. An application may still deliver poor performance even if the network is operating properly, but the inverse is not possible.

If you’d like to learn more about network telemetry monitoring and understanding the grayscale in your network, book a meeting and get a demo of Preseem.

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