5 key factors to consider before choosing network mapping software

5 key factors to consider before choosing network mapping software

With networks now more distributed than ever, network maps have become key components to enabling comprehensive and effective network monitoring and management. Helping IT admins visualize their complex IT infrastructures and draw actionable insights from the end-to-end mapping of network nodes, network maps offer many advantages. IT admins rely on these maps for drilling down to the cause of network issues, troubleshooting more quickly, and enhancing resource management.

Network maps have become indispensable to modern-day IT operations management. This has made choosing the right network mapping tool for your IT infrastructure an important decision. With the myriad of options available on the market, you need to pick a tool that suits your network management needs and offers all the capabilities you need to simplify network mapping. To help you in this process, we've compiled a list of five key factors to look for in a network mapping tool. These include:

  • Network requirements and the mapping solution.
  • The need for centralization in complex IT infrastructures.
  • Ease of use and automated network discovery.
  • The ability to drill down into the mapped components.
  • Integration with a reliable network monitoring solution.

#1 Network requirements and the mapping solution

Not all networks are built the same. Different organizational networks are built differently to suit business and computational requirements. So, a network mapping tool that has worked for one organization won't necessarily suit yours.

It's important to understand the network mapping needs of your organization before zeroing in on a solution. This includes identifying requirements such as the types of maps needed, customizations and automation required, and ease of mapping and use. This helps network admins avoid the hassle of figuring out work-arounds for capabilities that might be absent in their choice of network mapping solution.

Scaling beyond your physical networks: When choosing a network mapping tool, network admins should ensure that the tool offers sufficient capabilities to rise beyond the physical networks. This includes offering mapping capabilities for layer 2 entities, virtual components, and more.

Deploying a reliable network mapping solution with network-appropriate capabilities enables an efficient approach to visually and logically mapping your network components.

#2 The need for centralization in complex IT infrastructures

Remote sites, data centers, and offices have now become common in both small- and enterprise-level networks, which are more distributed and deploy various new technologies, components, and protocols. For effective network management, network admins should be able to tie up and visualize all this information, and gain insights into their network health and performance. However, this becomes impossible without a centralized network mapping and visualization solution.

With disparate network maps and diagrams, it can be difficult to utilize the insights gained from different network maps. This calls for a centralized approach to network mapping. While it's necessary to have different types of maps for different sites and levels of networking, it's important to choose a mapping solution that offers a centralized approach and console for maintaining, updating, and analyzing these maps. This offers several network management advantages, including ease of remote network troubleshooting.

#3 Ease of use and automated network discovery

What good is switching to a tool if it's more difficult to use than your current tool? Ease of use is an important factor to consider, especially in network mapping solutions. A network mapping tool that makes it difficult to use, create, edit, or update maps is as inefficient as manually mapping your network. Network admins need to check for the following before choosing their network mapping solution.

  • Learning curve: The tools should have a smaller learning curve and be easy to get started with. This helps network admins use the tool more effectively and save time.
  • Automation: With networks now becoming more dynamic and complex, automation capabilities are an important factor to check before buying a network mapping solution. The solution of choice should offer automated network discovery, mapping, and update capabilities. This helps network admins ensure that the data shown in the mapping console reflects the real-time status of the mapped network components.
  • User interface: The network mapping solution should offer an intuitive UI that simplifies creating and editing maps. Features such as drag-and-drop options and component-specific icons simplify building network maps.
  • Grouping: Say an organization has muliple business view and layer 2 maps. While a centralized solution makes these maps easily accessible, the solution should also allow admins to group, view, and create specific maps within that group with ease.

#4 The ability to drill down into the mapped components

Creating and viewing network maps alone doesn't enable effective network monitoring. It's important to view details like the status of the mapped component to carry out network management tasks, such as resource allocation, route management, and network troubleshooting. Thus, to effectively use network maps, the network mapping solution should offer in-depth insights into the mapped network components right from the mapping console. This includes information such as the name, type, status, and IP address of the mapped components.

#5 Integration with a reliable network monitoring solution

Effective network maps make it easy to visualize your network and offer insights into the mapped components. To take full advantage of the network mapping capabilities, network admins should choose a tool that is built into or tightly integrates with a reliable network monitoring solution. This helps them enhance network performance and health monitoring by offering a holistic approach to mapping, monitoring, and managing network components.

For instance, setting up threshold-based alerts and critical monitors for resource utilization metrics helps network admins stay in the know about issues affecting their network components. Using a network monitoring solution with an integrated network mapping capability helps them easily track and analyze the impact of network issues on other connected or dependent network components. This makes the network troubleshooting process faster and effectively reduces downtime.

Simplify network mapping with OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager offers a streamlined approach to network map creation and management. With its advanced network topology mapping capabilities, network admins can easily visualize their entire network and enable automated data updates. Advanced network mapping capabilities are just one of the many things OpManager has to offer for effective network performance monitoring.

OpManager is complete network monitoring software that helps you track the performance, health, and availability of various network components. This helps you seamlessly enable constant network uptime and connectivity, and reduce network downtime. Want to know more? Download a free, 30-day trial, or schedule a personalized live demo with OpManager experts today.