What Are the Benefits of Managing an NPM Solution From the Cloud?
There are plenty of good reasons to buy an NPM, and there are even more things to consider when doing so. Some of these are concisely summarized in Jay Botelho’s article on What To Know When Evaluating Network Monitoring Solutions. Hopefully, you knew it was going to be necessary before the network went in, and you made it part of the design and the budget. But either before or after, it was inevitable and worth every penny.
Network Size and Choosing an NPM
There are a couple of differences to consider depending on if you think about the NPM before or after. If you think about the NPM as part of the network design and know that you will be adding packet capture and analysis probes into each segment by either spanning traffic from the router or switch or tapping it with a packet broker, you will know right off the bat that the bigger your network is the more probes you are going to need to monitor and troubleshoot it. In this case, you will then realize that not only do you need the probes on each segment, but you will need to manage them as well.
And there is a big difference, in that if you add them onesy twosy over time you might not think about the management part, and choose an NPM that does not include a management solution. If your network is small, this is not so bad. Or if your network is a data center, where you have one large capture appliance, again not so bad. But that is rare, and even if it starts out that way, networks usually grow.
What usually happens is the network grows organically as the company grows and new locations are added, which means new network segments are added. And then for some reason performance is slow for those users, and your team is responsible and has to fix it. So you add a network probe, and at some point, you realize there are a lot of them. Hopefully, you chose one that includes a device management service.
The Advantages to the Cloud
One of the considerations of a device management service should be the ability to manage the probes from a centralized single pane of glass. Ideally, this management solution is included with maintenance and hosted in the cloud. Why it should be included with maintenance is obvious, because you don’t want to be nickel and dimed for everything. But why it should be cloud-based may not be so obvious. Not just because the cloud is hip and trendy, but because there are some real advantages. For example, because it is in the cloud you don’t have to provide hardware to run it on or manage it. Also, because it is cloud-based it can be upgraded on the fly by the vendor, without having to touch the on-prem probes.
The Transition to Remote Work
Back in the day, you remember, when everybody used to go into the office, life was easier for IT. Since most of the traffic stayed within the corporate network, and the data center, it was easier to architect, monitor, and troubleshoot. Nowadays, a lot more people are working from home, so the corporate network has spread to the internet through VPNs. There is also the momentous movement to the cloud, and for those folks still going into the corporate offices and branch offices, there is the need to have better visibility there as well.
In all of these locations, there will be software or hardware probes to monitor and troubleshoot the network which can add up to 100’s or even 1000’s. Now imagine you need to make a global change to all of them. For example, let say the IP address of your NTP server changes, or your 3rd party authentication server. Having to change these configurations on each device would be a daunting, and time-consuming, and error-prone task. But with a Device Management Service in the cloud, the change could be made and applied to all of the probes at the same time, from a single pane of glass.
Another important function of the Device Management Server is zero-touch deployment. When a new office is opened, and a network monitoring probe is put into place, the less it has to be configured, the better. For this reason, the probe should immediately phone home to the device management service in the cloud, register itself, activate itself, configure itself, and if necessary even upgrade itself to the latest version. This way when the team responsible for using it first accesses it, it is ready to go. And when the team responsible for managing it looks at the device management service dashboard, the probe is there and accounted for.
The Health of Your Network
Finally, the device management service can be used to not only manage the probes but to monitor and alert them to their health. Probes have cpu, memory, disk, and other resources that need to be monitored. If something goes wrong you want to know about it before you are in a critical situation where you need to use the probe.
These are just some of the benefits of choosing an NPM solution that includes a cloud-based device management service. If you have questions about any of this, or would like one of our expert SE’s to walk you through the configuration, feel free to request a demo or a free trial.
By: Chris Bloom, Lead Technical Engineer