What is Network Management Software?

In today’s internet-reliant world, network management tools and software add a crucial layer of security and performance monitoring, expanding visibility and building business resiliency far beyond the traditional tech stack.

Why use network management software and tools?

Network monitoring software and tools provide greater transparency into what’s impacting your users and your bottom line. Here’s what you need to know to start building your own best-in-class solution for a superior user experience.

It's the Wild West in the cloud these days. Microservice and container architectures continue to outgrow their environments, lending a new air of uncertainty and risk to enterprise operations. Large organizations, increasingly reliant on the internet, need a full-spectrum view of their application landscape — including the external networks they rely on.

To add to the stakes, security is a growing concern within network operations for the application teams striving to help their businesses run successfully at scale. Network monitoring software and tools are a core part of an effective network performance management strategy that can futurize and foolproof third-party environments, and like application security monitoring are crucial in combating emerging threats to maintain a flawless digital experience. These tools open a whole new layer of observability that is central to customer retention and revenue growth, ensuring no issue goes unnoticed no matter how far it is from the “nest.”

What are the benefits and features of network management software and tools?

With greater visibility into what’s affecting the customer experience and what could potentially impact the bottom line, network monitoring software and tools present many benefits to your organization, including:

  1. Reduced finger-pointing and faster problem-solving. No one likes to be blamed for a problem they didn’t cause. Network monitoring software and tools help align your NetOps, AppOps and SecOps teams around shared business goals and through a common operating language, making it easier to diagnose root causes with proper context and precision to reduce mean time to isolation (MTTI) or mean time to resolution (MTTR).
  2. Performance and security at scale. New devices, ISPs, SaaS and external networks that support business operations mean new dependencies. Make external dependencies more dependable with broad oversight of these critical components of your digital experience as you innovate and grow.
  3. Visibility across the entire internet. The performance lift of a robust internet monitoring system cannot be overstated. Keep a virtual eye on all incoming and outgoing traffic for an in-depth understanding of what your customers are experiencing and how external servers and services interact with locations important to your operations.
  4. SaaS monitoring. For some, working from home may become the new normal, and it’s up to organizations to adapt seamlessly. Monitor collaborative SaaS applications for your global remote workforce (Cisco WebEx, Microsoft 365 and Teams, etc.) at the application level alongside hop-by-hop network performance metrics from user devices, data centers and branch offices for fast, efficient problem-solving.

Network management software: active vs. passive

Network monitoring software and tools can fall into two categories: passive or active. Both can be beneficial to your network management strategy for different reasons.

Passive network monitoring software and tools

Passive network monitoring software and tools allow you to collect data passively during the normal operation of your business, and get an idea of what’s working and what may be causing problems. It’s primary limitation is the inability to collect external data from networks you don’t control. With more critical business activity occurring outside of owned networks than ever before, actively collecting this data is increasingly important, and many organizations would benefit from an additional active/synthetic monitoring platform given the limitations of passive monitoring solutions.

Active network monitoring software and tools

Active network monitoring software and tools, also known as synthetic monitoring, are a way of “testing the waters” of your most common user pathways. You can use these tools to determine critical metrics such as site uptime/downtime, primary Layer 3 network paths that include Domain Name Systems (DNS) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) ahead of deployment, and measure latency and other metrics that might affect the user experience.

Active/synthetic monitoring paints a strong picture of your baseline performance levels, allowing you to better identify potential anomalies in the future. By proactively assessing the networks where your business operates, you can improve the speed and efficiency of automated troubleshooting by mapping hot spots and common root causes.

Both passive and active network monitoring software and tools have their advantages, but it’s important to emphasize that active/synthetic tools can help your organization get ahead of potential issues before they affect your users or employees — rather than the other way around. (This is particularly important given today’s “one strike and you're out” digital consumer.) On the other hand, passive monitoring generates the kind of robust real-user data needed to paint the full picture of your organization’s performance and your end-to-end customer experience. Without a doubt, a combined approach is necessary in building a best-in-class network performance management practice.

AppDynamics offers both active and passive solutions through our Network Visibility Agents and integration with ThousandEyes Cloud and Internet Intelligence

To learn more about how building a robust network management practice can benefit your organization, check out the resources below, or schedule a demo of AppDynamics + ThousandEyes Cloud and Internet Intelligence, today.


View all resources

The role of active and passive monitoring in virtual networks

There are two well-accepted methods of monitoring service performance; active and passive, and each comes with its own strengths, learn when to use one vs the other. 

Own your digital experience across any network, anywhere

As the first and only solution for complete visibility of the internet, your virtual workforce, and every global third-party service, AppDynamics + ThousandEyes gives you full observability of the networks where your business lives.

Troubleshoot less, innovate more

In this on demand webinar, we provide a demo and deep dive into how the integration of Cisco ACI and AppDynamics technologies can help you get correlated, real-time visibility into application and network performance.

What is Network Performance Management (NPM)?

NPM represents a proactive solution that helps identify and reduce instances of bottlenecks or network issues that affect not only the end user, but also the internal tasks associated with maintaining business operations.

Own your digital experience with AppDynamics

Schedule a demo