Network security and performance can significantly affect your company’s overall success. That’s why every business, especially those in e-commerce, must frequently monitor their networks to ensure everything is running smoothly. To get a clear picture of how your systems are running, you should have a solid understanding of what real-time network monitoring is and how it can benefit your business.
Real-time monitoring employs applications and tools that track and record continuous snapshots of your network’s overall performance. Organizations use real-time monitoring to track network activity, improve network security and identify potential problems as soon as they arise. Every business, regardless of size, can benefit from monitoring its network in real time.
Although it is a good business practice to monitor your network in real time, doing so also provides several advantages for small business owners.
Network security should be a top priority for any business. Monitoring your network in real time is a great way to support security compliance. Real-time monitoring can help you or your information technology (IT) department identify and resolve security problems as soon as they arise. These issues can include unusual or suspicious traffic, unauthorized requests or devices, cyberthreats or any other potentially harmful behavior on your network. [Related article: E-commerce Website Security: 5 Best Practices to Protect Your Online Store]
Your network performance can be directly tied to the success of your business. For example, if you run an e-commerce business, you’ll want to optimize your servers to avoid issues like downtime, bandwidth overload and long loading times. Monitoring your network in real time can reveal actionable insights about glitches and performance inefficiencies that need to be addressed.
Anthony Petecca, AVP of IT at StaffGlass, listed some of the most common network performance elements you can monitor and why they are important:
“Having real-time monitoring allows you to track performance over time to finely tune your network for ideal performance levels,” Petecca told us. “With enough time passed, it also allows you to prepare for anticipated network spikes, such as Cyber Monday shopping.”
“Not only do business leaders get to know the status of their network performance and security at all times, but when an incident happens, the real-time alerting allows for faster incident response,” said Pieter VanIperen, founder and managing partner of PWV Consultants.
Businesses need to resolve incidents as soon as they arise, however big or small they appear to be. For example, it may seem obvious to resolve a data breach or a cyberattack immediately, but even something as seemingly inconsequential as a slow-loading website or an abundance of 404 web pages can severely impact your business. Monitoring your network in real time can help you catch these incidents as soon as they occur and respond immediately.
“Faster incident response means faster mitigation, which means less loss to the company,” VanIperen added.
Monitoring your network can increase employee productivity. For example, using real-time monitoring to optimize your network performance can enable your team to send company emails, work on projects and collaborate with colleagues more efficiently. You can also use real-time monitoring to track employee data transfer and protect any sensitive information they may be working with.
Up-to-date knowledge of your network’s use can ultimately save you money. Instead of overspending on advanced software or unnecessary site speeds, you can gain a bird’s-eye view of the exact technology and support you need. An optimized network can also help you make money, primarily if you work in e-commerce.
You can use real-time monitoring to increase your business’s data security, network performance, employee productivity, customer satisfaction and reputation. There is a wide variety of monitoring applications, software and services available, so the specific tools you use (and the way you use them) will depend on your business needs.
“At the very minimum, I recommend that companies at least utilize real-time networking to monitor speeds and latency of the network,” Petecca said. “Having the knowledge of a network slowdown before you see degradation within your company’s performance can be the difference of tens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars.”
VanIperen said that real-time monitoring can help companies identify what is “normal” for their business and set alerts around those metrics.
“Ensuring that alerts are set around anything that is out of the business normal is key,” he said. “When performance changes or there is a security alert, the system can notify you so that fixes can be implemented. This is why it is key to know what is normal for the business ― without knowing what is normal, business leaders have no idea how to set alerts.”
There are several monitoring applications on the market, which range in features, technical expertise and price. You should choose an affordable platform that is easy to use but advanced enough to support your infrastructure and monitoring needs.
VanIperen offered the following advice for businesses searching for the right monitoring tools:
Finding the right tools may seem daunting, but every business must implement some form of network monitoring as soon as possible. If you are new to network monitoring, starting small and expanding later is OK.
“Even having simple monitoring in place for something like speed is going to save you time and money when growing or troubleshooting issues,” Petecca said. “I recommend choosing a solution that is easy to implement and use. If you need more complex tools later on, you can upgrade. There is a tool to fit every scenario.”
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.