As a managed service provider, you need to stay on top of your customers’ systems 24 hours a day. If a server goes down, a DDoS attack drains its capacity, or there are signs of malware, your reputation depends on responding quickly.
Network monitoring is one of your most important responsibilities. Choosing the right tools and services will let you do a top-quality job.
Types of Monitoring
You can run network monitoring from a dedicated system or use cloud-based NMaaS. Cloud-based monitoring is growing in popularity since it saves you from worrying about outages in your own machines. You’ve got plenty to do managing other people’s computers!
Monitoring can work with an agent running on the customer’s network, or it can be agentless. With agentless monitoring, you’re more limited in what you can see. Some customers may require it for security reasons, and with the right set of services, it can work well. Monitoring through the API of a server or hypervisor or by simulating a user can gather a lot of information. You can monitor cloud services directly through an account, without using an agent.
Logging and Notifications
When something goes wrong on a customer network, you need to know quickly. At the same time, you don’t want a lot of false notifications, or you’ll be overwhelmed. Careful configuration is necessary to strike the right balance between real problems and noise. Customers with different SLAs may need different settings.
When taking on a new customer, run a baseline test to determine what ‘normal’ performance is. Any network will have spikes without any cause for alarm. Figure out the outer boundaries of acceptable traffic as well as the usual levels.
Identify the critical devices and services and set the monitoring to issue notifications if they show signs of failure. Desktop machines don’t usually need the same priority as servers.
Have a written plan that says what a technician should do with an alert. Unusual conditions, by definition, don’t happen often, so they might be unfamiliar to the technician. Should they watch for a while before acting, notify the customer, or get a specialist? A manual with a recommended course of action for each kind of event will help to give the customer consistent responses.
Network Monitoring and Security
A significant benefit of monitoring is its ability to warn you of abnormal traffic, which can indicate a security breach. However good a network’s security is, some attempts to install malware may get through. If traffic gets unusually high in the middle of the night, it could be because malware is sending messages to a command-and-control server.
How well monitoring can detect breaches depends on how detailed its analysis is. Software that only looks at overall traffic levels may catch high-volume breaches but will miss most others. Monitoring with intrusion detection features will look not just for high traffic levels but suspicious patterns as well. With intrusion detection, monitoring will detect hostile or abnormal packets at the application level. It can call attention to an attack in progress or a breach that has already happened.
An MSP has many options for monitoring services, whether it hosts its own monitoring or uses a cloud service. Essential features of a network monitoring system are multi-network support and flexibility. A service which is great for monitoring a single network may not be at all suited for managed services. It has to support looking at each customer’s data separately, keeping reports separate, and applying different configurations to each network.
Different customers will have different SLAs, so some need more detailed oversight than others. At the same time, it’s vital to live up to your commitments with every customer. Choosing the right monitoring system helps to make it possible.
ServiceTree is a revolutionary 360-degree PSA solution for MSPs and is equipped to handle everything discussed here. Through its patented Open Next technology and structured decisions trees, it makes managing complex remote networks easier and more secure than any other system on the market.
To learn about our innovative PSA solution for MSPs, schedule a demo.