Table of Contents
- Why Is Monitoring Important?
- Network Monitoring Software
- Choosing a Monitoring Tool
- How MetricFire Can Help
Network monitoring is critical to ensuring a business stays secure. Switches are crucial to the proper functioning of that network. Hence, continue reading about the ten best Cisco switch monitoring tools. Switches connect networks and serve as controllers that let organizations share resources and talk to each other for better productivity.
Without them, organizations face crippled information sharing and resource allocation, not to mention unnecessary costs. We all want speedy access to information, and switches are an integral part of making that happen. However, like all the components of your IT network, switches need effective monitoring to build a sound security strategy.
Why Is Monitoring Important?
Organizations implement network monitoring for several reasons, and all of them contribute to the overall success of a business. Foremost is ensuring optimal performance of the network. Even minor changes, like files not loading promptly, can significantly affect productivity levels.
Also crucial is the security and safety of your network and data. Network administration is all about detecting those potential threats and stopping data leaks, preventing damage to your reputation and bottom line.
Also, network monitoring can provide real cost-savings opportunities for businesses allocating resources. They can discover which network elements are being heavily used (or overused) and which are under-used. These results can highlight unnecessary costs or identify network components needing an upgrade to maintain future performance.
Network Monitoring Software
Monitoring your network is essential as it helps to thwart attacks and address problems before they translate to financial loss. Network monitoring typically covers all network devices and scrutinizes availability, CPU and memory utilization, disk usage, and configuration.
When trying to tackle network management, many organizations focus on edge devices instead of the entire network. Monitoring routers, firewalls, and switches will help identify most attacks, and it gives IT leaders the insight they need to assess overall network performance.
How can you ensure you have the highest level of connectivity and security and that you have selected the right monitoring tool?
Here is our list of the ten best Cisco switch monitoring tools in 2021.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
Topping the list for Cisco network monitoring tools is the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM). Forget struggling with cryptic CLI commands. SolarWinds NPM automatically discovers and identifies Cisco routers and switches.
Complete with customizable network topology and dashboards to visualize performance, this monitoring tool continuously polls the management information bases (MIBs) on your devices to get critical performance metrics to keep your system functioning optimally.
As a streamlined solution, SolarWinds NPM monitors all parts of your network in a centralized monitoring tool. It also checks if your software-defined networking (SDN) environment is performing correctly, and it provides total visibility into your Cisco ASA environment and infrastructure.
NPM from SolarWinds is your best bet for a high-performing monitoring tool built specifically for handling Cisco devices and environments. It comes with out-of-the-box compatibility with the device agents already loaded onto each Cisco device.
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager
A close second, SolarWinds' other monitoring solution is the Network Configuration Manager (NCM). This tool is a sound choice for networks that are diverse in their configuration. With NCM, you can stop second-guessing if inventory spreadsheets are up to date and reliable since the monitoring tool conducts a simple scan to build an accurate inventory of your network devices.
Are you running multiple switches and routers? Not a problem for NCM, which will highlight any network failure and identify which component has failed. SolarWinds designed NCM to manage rapid and complex changes across networks. Its Cisco Nexus switch monitoring helps you ensure service availability with backup to every virtual device context (VDC).
Datadog Network Monitoring
A cloud-based system designed for hybrid environments, the Datadog Network Monitoring solution combines health monitoring of all Cisco network devices with activity monitoring for all actions passing through network traffic.
Priding itself on simplicity in install and operationally, Datadog translates performance into easily understandable tags. This unified system allows for quick visualization of your network devices and can preemptively stop bandwidth saturation in its tracks using AI-powered forecasting to ensure a high-quality service.
You can focus on the most insightful switch metrics and monitor all Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) devices and network traffic data side by side. Datadog also provides extensibility through many APIs, with entirely customizable graphs, metrics, and alerts.
SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management
The Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool from SolarWinds provides platform-agnostic monitoring and is perfect for IT departments that want to administer IT infrastructure from a centralized location. RMM is crucial for providing effective management for remote workers with various platforms and personal mobile devices.
RMM is a SaaS system, and part of its job is to monitor network devices like switches and routers. However, it can also monitor UPSs, printers, laptops, desktops, and servers. RMM can check other network services, including VPNs, VoIP traffic, and VM mappings, while scanning switches and routers.
RMM can be a significant time-saver for automating repetitive tasks. You can deploy automation scripts to many devices at once, or you can set a schedule or threshold that triggers to run. Get your IT team focused on high-value priorities with this level of automation.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
More like a collection of monitors, Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (PRTG) provides a bundle of "sensors" to monitor networks, servers, and applications. PRTG comes with an allowance of sensors that you can customize and implement depending on your needs.
Checking the status of Cisco devices is simple with the Cisco Systems Health sensor. Among other Cisco monitors in the bundle is the IP SLA sensor, which accesses service level agreement data collected on Cisco switches to monitor the quality of VoIP transmissions.
You can gather traffic queue information from Cisco switches through PRTG with the Cisco CBQoS sensor and stay on top of potential bandwidth usage issues.
Do you need to monitor Cisco networks but don't have a full monitoring team?
MetricFire can help with a powerful monitoring platform that provides valuable insights in just a few clicks. You must sign up for the MetricFire free trial, and book a demo about how our Cisco monitoring tools can support your team.
Site24x7 Cisco Network Monitoring
Although Site24x7 Cisco Network Monitoring is a cloud-based system that eliminates the need to maintain on-site software, it requires the agent installation on the module to gather performance statistics. The agent can then communicate with Cisco network switches through the SNMP system and Cisco’s NetFlow protocol.
The SNMP system enables Site24x7 to access and automatically detect network devices while creating a live topology map and inventory of all devices on the network. If you add or remove a switch, maps and inventories automatically update.
Cisco Network Assistant
Optimized to work across most Cisco switches, routers, controllers, and access points, the Cisco Network Assistant is a comprehensive network monitoring tool. The one downside is that it can only manage up to 80 devices.
Most would assume that a network monitoring system from Cisco would facilitate the network management of Cisco devices. Still, with limited capacity on devices, it might not be the best choice for more extensive enterprise networks. On the plus side, the tool is free and suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.
The Cisco Network Assistant offers a device access service so you can arrive at a switch’s management menu through the monitor dashboard. Using the direct link to the Cisco Active Advisor, you can view important warranty and contract information for any of your devices.
The LogicMonitor network monitoring tool discovers your devices automatically. When creating the network topology map and inventory, it also notes each device's make and model so you can quickly identify and keep track of your Cisco switches.
While the LogicMonitor tool communicates primarily with Cisco switches and routers, it has extra functionality when dealing with Cisco Nexus switches; here, it can perform configuration management and monitoring. It can track supervisor card status and redundancy states while troubleshooting fan performance and power draw.
ManageEngine OpManager network monitoring tool can monitor devices from various vendors, including Cisco. Visualizing switch and router settings from all devices in one console with OpManager and SNMP implementation ensures your devices will be in check continuously. With additional licenses, it can enable network traffic analysis and configuration management.
Customers agree that the tool dashboard is high on user experience thanks to eye-catching charts and graphs. You can instantly see all the alerts device agents send out when they detect issues, and you can create your own alert rules to customize the dashboard.
The Applications Manager within ManageEngine also offers Cisco Unified Communications (UC) monitoring to track various KPIs of the applications and system.
Interested in some eye-catching graphs? Use MetricFire’s hosted Graphite, hosted Prometheus, and beautiful Grafana data visualizations that allow you to supercharge your existing network monitoring strategies.
One of the first network monitoring tools available, the WhatsUp Gold networking monitoring tool integrates with Cisco applications to provide visibility into the status and performance of all network devices. Finding and fixing problems is what network management does best.
Real-time alerts on all devices from the WhatsUp Gold tool allow you to resolve outages quickly and reduce your mean time to repair. Finding and fixing problems is what network management does best. Real-time alerts on all devices from the WhatsUp Gold tool allow you to resolve outages quickly and reduce your mean time to repair.
In 2021, WhatsUp Gold introduced integrated log management to track and alert Windows events within the interface. This update significantly improves reporting capabilities and allows for better communication of network monitoring results.
Choosing a Monitoring Tool
Two things should be top of mind when selecting the right network monitoring tool for your Cisco switches and other devices:
- Network size
Most of the options listed are great for any company size, but there are also tools for the less robust systems of smaller businesses. Take into consideration the size of your network and the number of sites and servers that you monitor currently. If applicable, think about how your organization is growing so you can future-proof your decision.
Of course, the budget also plays a large part in selecting a monitoring tool that is efficient and cost-effective. So take advantage of the free trials for these recommended tools to test them against your requirements before committing.
Network monitoring is not possible without protocols; ones like SNMP facilitate performance monitoring on Cisco products. It’s important to note that some tools work specifically to automate the network monitoring process, such as Solarwinds NPM, ManageEngine OpManager, PRTG Network Monitor, WhatsUp Gold, and Cisco Network Assistant.
This can be an essential factor in the decision-making process if automation is high on the priority list and relieves stress from your end-user. Monitoring is the most critical aspect of managing a network. Not only can network monitoring tools alert you when something is wrong, but they can help during troubleshooting and for network planning.
Whichever tool you choose, it should be capable of monitoring.
How MetricFire Can Help
MetricFire is the ultimate solution for organizations that lack the resources for a full Cisco network monitoring team. This powerful monitoring platform built on hosted versions of Graphite, Grafana, and Prometheus monitors metrics after a quick installation of our agent.