Businesses now scale exponentially and so do their networks. Managing a hybrid IT environment that comprises wired, wireless, and virtual networks can be a challenging task for network administrators. However, continuous monitoring of these devices for fault and performance is crucial.

Network discovery is key to successful monitoring solutions. Identifying devices present within your network via a network discovery tool helps network admins equip the network for monitoring and for managing the network in general.

The importance of a network discovery tool

As your business grows, it’s evident that your network will also grow. Your network will constantly add numerous network devices like routers, servers, switches, printers, laptops, and more to your IT environment. To manage the network, and help prevent bottlenecks, network admin needs to track devices, keep the inventory updated, and understand how they are organized. But is it feasible to accomplish this using Excel spreadsheets as some IT departments resort to? Definitely not!

This is when a network discovery tool comes in handy. Providing in-depth analysis of the network framework and comprehensive insights on network performance, a network discovery tool helps your network admins stay on top of the network, and perform network discovery and monitoring functions easily.

A network discovery tool can help free up your network admin’s time by automating repetitive tasks and time-consuming processes, enabling them to focus on what is really important: your business.

Challenges faced without a network discovery tool

In a rapidly growing IT environment, network management without a network discovery tool is challenging. Here, we will discuss the top four obstacles a network admin faces and how a network discovery tool can fix them.

Why do you need a network discovery tool?

Let’s go through them one by one.

1. Identifying valid devices and choosing the right devices for monitoring  

For effective network management, network admins need to track each device added to the network manually through its IP address. Also, network admins need to ensure that all the assigned IP addresses in the network, even the abandoned ones, are valid and not susceptible to any unauthorized access or threats. This is not practical to accomplish manually, especially if you have a larger network that adds new devices frequently.

A network discovery tool employs IP range, subnet address, or importing through AD or CSV files to scan your network and identify the devices present using network protocols. This ensures that each IP address is valid and secure against attacks, thereby automating the discovery process safely, and eliminating manual effort.

But what about those network devices that are found to be valid? Do they all need monitoring? No!

Some devices may run critical processes, like servers, that need continuous monitoring, while some, like printers, may perform subjective tasks that need less or no monitoring. It’s the network admin who needs to prioritize the right devices for discovery and monitoring to ensure the effective functioning of the IT environment. However, this is time-consuming to perform manually.

A network discovery tool helps network admins choose or ignore devices individually, or in bulk as required. Since it can be accomplished remotely with a single click, utilizing a network discovery tool saves a lot of time and effort.

2. Manually performing device discovery and audits

With the constant addition of new network devices, it’s vital to start monitoring them as soon as they are added. This requires your network admins to track new devices and repeat the discovery process every time your network adds a new device, which is time and labor-intensive.

A network discovery tool enables network admins to automate the discovery process on a daily, weekly, or a monthly basis. With each rediscovery process, a network discovery tool will automatically find the new devices in your network and add them to the inventory. Also, the existing devices will automatically reflect the changes or upgrades in their hardware specifications (such as RAM or memory upgrade) after every rediscovery process.

Now, what if you want to audit the network devices constantly? Worry not! With each discovery process, the network discovery tool will generate detailed reports on the devices that are added, removed, or moved in the network. This report keeps the network admin informed, at a glance, of the updated list of your network devices.

A network discovery tool can put an end to the need for manually tracking the addition of new devices or upgrading existing devices. This, in turn, saves time and avoids repetitive work.

 3. Manually configuring device-specific monitors

After each successful discovery process, your network admin needs to assign monitors for all the discovered devices. Though network admins chose those devices for monitoring, they don’t need to assign all the monitors for all the devices. Based on their roles and importance, some devices require advanced monitors whereas some require basic monitors.

In a network of 10 devices, if the devices 1,3,5,7 require CPU utilization monitoring and the rest require memory usage monitoring, the network admin needs to assign them manually with respect to the device requirements. In a small network like this, it could be manageable to a certain point.

But imagine yours is a large network with hundreds of thousands of devices. Assigning and tracking device-specific monitors manually is a tedious process for network admins. These actions cost time and effort, and often result in productivity losses for the end users.

Network admins can automate this process with the help of a network discovery tool that assigns monitors during the discovery process. By configuring certain rules, network admins can either assign a specific monitor or push a bulk configuration to all the devices at once. This helps monitor only the required devices, or even only the required metrics of a particular device, all from a single console.

Doesn’t that sound great?

4. Inability to visualize network topology

Performing actions manually, without utilizing network discovery resources, network admins can manage to stay up-to-date on all the devices, but they would not know the exact topology or arrangement of your network devices. Also, the network admins would have no idea how the devices are connected physically, or how they interact with each other. In case of faults, it takes a lot of time for network admins to locate issues and troubleshoot them.

Of course, you don’t want to waste your network admin’s time, or risk your network either. Then, you need to choose a network discovery tool that can help network admins visualize the network topology in real time with network maps. The network maps help network admins understand the structure of your network geographically through graphical and visual representations. This helps identify issues and locate devices soon after a fault occurs.

The network discovery tool enables network admins to see the bigger picture of network architecture, troubleshoot issues instantly, and help manage crucial network devices that account for your network’s overall health. This empowers network admins to forecast the entire network for future faults and plan upgrades or maintenance accordingly, and to stay informed about the network, in general.

OpManager is a potent end-to-end solution for solving these top four challenges. It provides a unified approach for managing and scaling your IT network.

OpManager: Your trusted network monitoring software

OpManager, a network monitoring and management software, provides an effective network discovery tool that simplifies and automates the network discovery process. This valuable resource is integrated with network monitoring and mapping solutions to make network management an effortless task for network admins. You can use OpManager as a network discovery tool for both Windows and Linux servers.

Here are the five key features of OpManager’s discovery tool that help ensure your network is managed efficiently and cost-effectively:

  • Robust discovery options:

OpManager’s network discovery tool comes with four robust discovery options: IP range, subnet, importing through active directories, or CSV file. With the OpManager’s network discovery tool, not only will you discover devices, but also interfaces, servers, RAID storage devices, ports, virtual devices and more.

  • Approve/ignore:

With the OpManager’s discovery tool, you can choose devices that need discovery and monitoring in your network. You can also ignore the devices that are of less priority through the Approve/ignore option.

  • Discovery Schedule and Rule:

For your continually expanding network, you can fix a discovery schedule and automatically add new network devices to the inventory. With each rediscovery process, you can also configure certain rules to assign monitors automatically, or associate devices to Business Views using the discovery rule engine.

  • Device templates:

OpManager includes over 52,000 vendor templates, 11,000 device templates, and 292 interface templates. With this vast number, you can automate the device classification process effortlessly. And yes, can add default monitors too!

  • Mapping:

With the OpManager’s mapping feature, you can visualize your network topology in Business Views, Layer2 Map Views, 3D Floor and Rack Views. This helps to visualize your network, keep an eye on the overall network’s health and performance, and drill down to the root cause of an issue to fix it quickly.

We hope the points addressed in this blog helped you learn more about identifying and resolving network discovery and monitoring issues in your organization. You can learn more about OpManager’s network discovery tool here.

Not yet convinced? Download  30-day trial version of OpManager for free to explore on your own. You can also sign up for a free personalized demo with one of our product experts who can answer your product questions and show you why OpManager is a trusted network monitoring solution worldwide.