Network Managers Should be Monitoring Servers

Jan 26, 2017 2:02:33 PM

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by HelpSystems on February  2, 2016.

Network monitoring is about more than just the network. The network management team needs visibility beyond switches and routers to ensure infrastructure health and performance.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research has found that 25% of IT organizations experience server- and storage-related service outages several times a week. Another 22% experience such outages several times a month. Furthermore, IT organizations have told EMA that during difficult infrastructure trouble events that require cross-domain collaboration, server systems are the root cause of the problem 37% of the time

Everyone knows that when IT services are degraded, the network is the first infrastructure domain to receive the blame. But the above statistics indicate that servers are quite often a source of trouble. That’s why it pays to have a network monitoring system that has visibility into servers.

Network availability monitoring systems are increasingly monitoring servers, storage, and applications so that network administrators can have the full picture of what’s happening on the network. System admins will have tools of their own that provide deep visibility, but it’s still useful for the network management team to have its own view of what’s happening with servers, especially if the systems team is falling down on the job.

Using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), vendor APIs, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and other data collection technologies, many network monitoring systems can now discover, map, monitor, and alert on servers.  These network management tools can report on server uptime, processor information, and memory utilization. In some cases they can even provide visibility into power supplies, fans, and other physical elements. With this insight, network admins have the ability to quickly discover whether servers are at the root of an issue.

HelpSystems’ InterMapper is an example of an enterprise network availability monitoring system that can provide server visibility. Going beyond simple up/down statuses on servers, InterMapper reports on disk space utilization, hardware health, and memory and processor utilization. It also offers visibility into hypervisors, such as VMware and XenServer. In addition, InterMapper can map applications and services to specific servers so that network admins can monitor the servers and interfaces associated with a single application—Microsoft Exchange, for example. If users complain about an email outage, the network admin can quickly identify whether any of the servers associated with Exchange are at the root of the problem.

This kind of visibility isn’t just about proving the network’s innocence. By looking beyond their own silos, network admins can start collaborating with other parts of the IT organization. Those triage teams that bring different teams together—usually just to point fingers—can become more cooperative if admins can see beyond their own domain. And this will be increasingly important to forward-thinking enterprises. EMA research has found that 43% of midsized enterprises and 40% of large enterprises have integrated their network operations centers into converged, cross-domain operations centers. By all accounts, this cross-domain operating model is becoming more popular. Networking teams who work in such environments will need tools that can look beyond switches and routers. A network monitoring system that has visibility into servers and more is a good start

Topics: Featured

Shamus McGillicuddy

Written by Shamus McGillicuddy

Shamus is the research director for EMA's network management practice. He has more than twelve years of experience in the IT industry as an analyst and journalist. Prior to joining EMA, Shamus was the news director for TechTarget's networking publications. He led the news team's coverage of all networking topics, from the infrastructure layer to the management layer. He has published hundreds of articles about network technology, and he was a founding editor of TechTarget's website, a leading resource for technical information and news on the software-defined networking industry.

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