Why Network Problems Can Prove Difficult to Find

Network problems can be some of the most difficult issues for an offsite IT provider to identify. Due to the transient nature of network issues—both inside and outside the network itself—oftentimes, an IT provider must resort to hanging around onsite to monitor for troublesome network symptoms. The ability to monitor both the devices on the network as well as cloud services outside the network from a remote location is critical if you want to become an efficient managed service provider (MSP).

Step one—monitor all the things

body_monitor everythng.jpgMany tools available on the market today allow MSPs to monitor servers and workstations, but today’s networks are so much more complex. In the past, you had servers, workstations, routers, and maybe a switch. Today, you can add VoIP phones/systems, printers, cameras, standalone firewalls, and too many IoT (internet of things) devices to fully list here.

Not all of these are business-critical, but all are relied upon daily to perform their function. From the very simple ping test to more advanced SNMP queries, for things like fan speed and temperature of a firewall or router, network devices can provide a wealth of information that—with the right tools—the technician can view offsite. This information can then be used to decide if an onsite visit is required or if something can be done remotely to remediate the issue. Even a simple ping allows you to determine whether a device is powered up and connected to the network.

Step two—monitor the cloud

Businesses both small and large are adopting more cloud-based services for critical business functions. CRM, accounting, and line-of-business software packages are moving to the cloud at break-neck speeds. Unfortunately, sometimes the speed of the internet can cause interruptions in those services. More often than not, the IT provider is called to diagnose the issue. The problem is, without historical data to see what was happening at the time the interruption occurred, it is impossible for the technician to diagnose unless it happens again while he is watching it and can run interactive tests to find the point of slowness.

Using a tool like NetPath to constantly monitor the connection between your customer’s devices and the cloud services they use creates a collection of historical data you can go back to, to diagnose what happened at that moment in time, and then develop a remediation plan.

Step three—watch for the unusual

compormise indicators body.jpgAn additional benefit of monitoring network devices and cloud services is sometimes they can be predictors of compromise. Any unusual activity on those devices should be investigated as a potential security risk, even if they are segmented off on their own VLAN or physical network.

From triaging reactive issues to proactive monitoring and security, network monitoring is an important part of any IT provider’s toolkit. It can help you make money through efficiencies and additional billable services, as well as help you react and reach an offsite resolution faster.

With proactive cloud service monitoring, you will never have to say, “We’ll have to watch it until it happens again.” You will have data at the ready to determine what happened and what the next steps should be. Network problems can be hard to find, but the right tools can help you find them faster.

With the addition of Network Device Monitoring, SolarWinds® RMM can help you see the whole of your customers’ networks. This helps ensure you can do your job more effectively and your customers’ networks are safe. To find out more or to start your free trial, click here.


Eric Anthony is principal of customer experience at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed service provider business for over six years.