By harnessing the power of these Cisco Network Monitoring tools, organizations can unlock the full potential of their Cisco networks, ensuring seamless connectivity, robust security, and optimal performance for their digital endeavors. FAQ's List of Cisco Network Monitoring Tools compared Over almost four decades, Cisco Systems has established itself as a leading provider of networking solutions, with its equipment, ranging from routers and switches to firewalls and access points, forming the backbone of countless networks worldwide. The efficient maintenance and management of these crucial pieces of IT infrastructure can pose significant challenges for professionals, requiring robust tools that provide real-time visibility, proactive troubleshooting capabilities, and comprehensive reporting. These tools serve as indispensable aids, empowering network administrators with the ability to effectively monitor, analyze, and optimize the performance of their Cisco equipment. They offer valuable insights into network health, traffic patterns, device behavior, and security vulnerabilities, enabling organizations to detect and address issues promptly, enhance network performance, and ensure compliance with industry regulations. In this article, we will analyze 10 of the best Cisco network monitoring tools, hoping to assist you in selecting the right tool that aligns with your unique requirements, simplifies network maintenance, and optimizes the management of your Cisco networking infrastructure. Frequently Asked Questions About Cisco Network Monitoring What are these tools? Why invest in one? How to find the perfect tool? How to do Cisco Network Monitoring? What are Cisco Network Monitoring Tools? Cisco network monitoring tools are tools designed to monitor the status, internal parameters, and performance of networking equipment manufactured by Cisco Systems, a North American company established in 1984. They may range from simple tools designed to query the availability and uptime of a device to more complex solutions which can keep track of performance data and even do network traffic analysis using protocols such as NetFlow. Keep in mind that Cisco offers a wide range of devices, from routers and switches to telephony systems, surveillance equipment, storage appliances, and even server platforms like the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). This article is mainly an overview of tools for the management of networking equipment. However, many of these tools may also support other categories of devices. We encourage you to check the developer's documentation for more details on the inner workings of each one. Why Should You Invest in Cisco Network Monitoring? There are many reasons to invest in Cisco network monitoring tools. Here are five of them, in no particular order. Performance optimization: continuous monitoring can help you pinpoint issues and identify opportunities for optimization that will improve the performance of your network, sometimes without the need for hardware upgrades. Security: monitoring allows you to spot early signs of uncommon behavior or usage patterns indicative of an intrusion attempt or ongoing attack. This will give you time to react and deploy countermeasures before a data breach occurs. Resource allocation: find out where resources are being underutilized or overutilized, allowing you to redistribute them according to real needs to ensure the most effective usage of your systems. Proactive maintenance: monitoring allows you to detect and fix potential issues before they become critical and result in outages that may affect the performance of your applications or even the profitability of your business. Regulatory compliance: businesses that handle sensitive information, like financial or healthcare data, need to meet strict regulatory standards that specify how this information is stored and handled. Monitoring will allow you to prove compliance with these standards and secure approvals that may be crucial to keep your business running. What to Look for When Choosing Cisco Network Monitoring Tools? Broadly speaking, there are 5 main features you need to look out for when choosing Cisco network monitoring tools. Keep in mind that this may vary according to your specific needs. The capability to monitor many aspects of your Cisco devices at once. A centralized display of information from many sensors for better observability. Customizable alerts and automated notifications when alerts are triggered. Native and automated reporting features, so you can keep co-workers and management "in the loop". A free trial period, so you can attest to how the tool works with your network infrastructure. How to do Cisco Network Monitoring? There are many Cisco network monitoring tools, from as many different vendors, which may focus solely on a single aspect of the task or offer this capability as a subset of a broader range of features. We present a few of them below, in no particular order. The Best Cisco Network Monitoring Tools PRTG, DataDog, Site24x7, ManageEngine, Zabbix, N-Central, WhatsUpGold, LogicMonitor, Nagios XI, Solarwinds PRTG Paessler PRTG is the Swiss army knife of the monitoring world. PRTG is based on basic monitoring elements called "sensors". One sensor usually monitors one measured value in your network, e.g. the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server, the free space of a disk drive, and so on. PRTG comes with more than 250 built-in sensors for various tasks, device types, and use cases, so you would be hard-pressed to find something you can't monitor. Plus, you can mix and match sensors, and even deploy custom ones, to create monitoring solutions specific to your needs. There are many sensors that can be used to monitor Cisco networking equipment with PRTG. All Cisco devices are capable of communication using SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), and PRTG has sensors for querying the CPU Load, Hardware Status, Disk Space, Memory Usage and Network Traffic of any SNMP-compatible device. Cisco UCS Blade Metrics on PRTG There are also more specific sensors, like the Cisco IP SLA for monitoring VoIP network parameters, sensors for Cisco ASA security appliances, for querying network parameters using CBQoS, for monitoring the health of Cisco UCS and Meraki systems, and more. The information gathered by PRTG is shown on a centralized dashboard with all the relevant metrics. You can set alerts based on threshold values, with notifications delivered by text (SMS) or email if those values are exceeded. There is also an automatic reporting feature, so you can keep management and co-workers informed. PRTG runs on Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, 2022, or Windows 11. There is a 30-day free trial of PRTG, with all features available during this period, no credit card is needed. Datadog Network Device Monitoring With support for more than 600 data sources and integrations, Datadog advertises full observability and increased security for your server environment, with metrics collected to a granularity down to one-second resolution. The Network Device Monitoring (NDM) solution allows you to discover and collect metrics from any network device, including Cisco. Device lists can be filtered by parameters such as location and, from a list, it is possible to drill down into performance details of specific devices and interfaces with a single click. Network device information on Datadog The anomaly detection feature allows you to configure customizable alerts, and forecasting can alert you before an interface exceeds predefined parameters, like bandwidth. Dashboards can be customized, and issues can be correlated to help your teams quickly pinpoint their cause. Datadog is a SaaS (Software as a Service) and monitoring is done by agents which collect and report data to cloud-hosted servers. There are agents for Windows, all the main Linux Distributions (such as Ubuntu, SuSE, RHEL, Fedora, CentOS, and Amazon Linux), and even AIX. You can try Datadog free for 14 days. Site24x7 Cisco Network Monitoring Site24x7 is an all-in-one monitoring solution with an impressive array of features, including website monitoring, server monitoring, cloud monitoring, network monitoring, application performance monitoring, and real user monitoring, to name a few. The Cisco monitoring tools are really comprehensive, with exclusive templates for more than 1,500 Cisco devices, including Cisco PIX (Private Internet Exchange) devices, Catalyst network switches, Meraki cloud controllers, switch stacks, routers, load balancers, servers, ASA security appliances, and much more. Network traffic on a device monitored by Site24x7 Site24x7 can automatically discover SNMP devices by connecting to its MIB (Management Information Base) and start monitoring bandwidth, interface, memory, CPU, and other metrics. You can add over 100 performance counters and display graphs of key stats, with customizable reports and alerts about downtime. Like Datadog, Site24x7 is SaaS and uses a monitoring agent that supports Windows Server (versions 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, and 2019), Windows 7 or above, all the main Linux distros (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat, Mandriva, Fedora, SuSE, Amazon Linux, Gentoo, CoreOS, and RancherOS), Docker, FreeBSD (9 or above) and macOS (10 "Yosemite" or above). There is a 30-day free trial available. ManageEngine OpManager ManageEngine OpManager is a full-featured network monitoring system, which supports a wide range of Cisco devices such as ASR series, Catalyst series, Nexus, UCS, and associated technologies such as NetFlow, IP SLA, CBQoS, NBAR, and more. Out of the box, it can monitor more than 100 performance metrics, and it is possible to create custom SNMP monitors from the Cisco MIB. Interface monitoring is also pretty robust, as the tool can recognize more than 230 types of interfaces and monitor them for availability, traffic, and errors. Examples of four Firewall compliance reports generated by OpManager It can create Live Network Maps which are automatically updated as devices are added or removed from the network, and supports the NetFlow protocol, allowing for real-time monitoring of bandwidth, application traffic, QoS, VoIP & WAN RTT, and wireless network monitoring. It can also do firewall policy and bandwidth management, with compliance reports for those who need to meet PCI DSS, ISO 27001, SANS, NIST, and NERC CIP requirements. ManageEngine OpManager is available for Windows (Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, 2022) or Linux (Red Hat versions 7 to 8.4, CentOS Stream 8, CentOS 7 to 8.5). There are also mobile clients for Android and iOS, so you can take your monitoring on the go. There is a 30-day free trial available. Zabbix Zabbix is a free and Open Source monitoring package that can do a lot, including server, cloud, application, services, and network monitoring into one tool. It can also monitor your Cisco networking equipment, with templates for ASAv, Nexus 9000, and Catalyst devices, besides a generic "Cisco IOS" profile. This tool claims to be able to collect data from "any" source, using push or pull methods for data retrieval and a polling interval that can go as low as one second. It is also possible to collect and parse log files, including EventLog entries on Windows systems. When problems occur, Zabbix can do root-cause analysis, anomaly detection, and trend prediction. The alerting system is very flexible, supporting not only SMS and email, but also modern communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Telegram, and more. Messages can even be customized according to the type and role of the recipient. Processor load on a device monitored by Zabbix The Zabbix server can only run on Linux, on-premises, or in the cloud. Supported distributions are Alma Linux, CentOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Raspberry Pi OS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Rocky Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Ubuntu, both for x64 and arm64 architectures. Zabbix may be Open Source and free, but you pay for the technical support. There are five support tiers (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Enterprise, and Global I), each one with different levels of availability, response times, and amount of incidents and support contacts. N-Able N-Central N-Central is an SNMP monitoring package developed by N-Able, which can monitor network devices and nodes, from servers and printers to routers and switches, even across platforms and operating systems. This includes scripts for more than 650 devices, including Cisco Meraki hardware, alongside industry-standard SNMP monitoring. The NetPath feature allows for the creation of topology maps for your network, and "makes it easy for technicians to identify exactly where, when, and why a node may be impacted". Admins have the ability to track hops and view latency historically, or in real-time, allowing for faster troubleshooting. SNMP device monitoring in N-Central A powerful automation system allows for "no code" automation, with self-healing and auto-remediation of issues built into the workflow. Multiple actions and scripts can be chained together, allowing you to automate the delivery of specific services. The N-Central server software runs on "bare metal" on a modified version of CentOS 7 on x86_64 CPUs, or virtualized on VMware ESX Server 6.0 or newer and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. The monitoring agents support multiple editions of Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019, and 2022, Windows 10 or 11, macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11.x, 12.x and 13.x, and Linux distributions like RHEL/CentOS 7 or 8 and Ubuntu 20.04 or 22.04 LTS. There is a free trial available. Progress WhatsUp Gold WhatsUp Gold supports the monitoring of any SNMP v1, v2, or v3-enabled equipment including routers, switches, servers, firewalls, operating systems, and, of course, your Cisco devices. Using "comprehensive layer2 / layer 3 discovery", this tool claims to "understand the architecture of your network", eliminating duplicate devices for a more accurate representation of your infrastructure and generating inventory reports on network assets and hardware modules "in less than an hour." A Cisco device being monitored by WhatsUp Gold WhatsUp Gold can monitor SNMP devices using active or passive monitors. Active monitors will query devices or services and wait for a response, while passive ones listen for specific information broadcast from a device. There is also a Network Traffic Analysis module (NTA) that supports NetFlow and can monitor global bandwidth usage, showing which users, applications, and protocols are using it, and how. Progress WhatsUp Gold runs only on Windows Server (2016, 2019, or 2022). There is a free trial available on the manufacturer's website, but we couldn't find out how long the trial period is. LogicMonitor LogicMonitor is a cloud-based monitoring platform and Cisco Preferred Solution Partner, with built-in integrations for a wide range of Cisco devices, including routers, switches, wireless equipment, ASA Firewalls, VoIP solutions, Meraki and UCS platforms, and much more. An auto-discovery system promises to deliver the monitoring, alerting, and graphing you need "within minutes", even on complex networks, whether resources are on-premises, spread across multiple data centers, or in the cloud. A Cisco Unified Communications system being monitored on LogicMonitor This tool offers powerful visualizations, custom dashboards, and real-time network insights to help you understand how your network is connected and help you reduce MTTR (Mean Time to Repair). Data about your network and devices is gathered using a "collector", described as "an application that runs on a Linux or Windows server within your infrastructure and uses standard monitoring protocols to intelligently monitor devices within your infrastructure". This is different from agents, as you do not need to install a collector on each device or resource to be monitored. LogicMonitor recommends running collectors on Windows Server 2022 or a supported Linux distribution, like Amazon Linux, CentOS, RHEL, Debian, or Ubuntu. A 14-day free trial is available. Nagios XI Nagios XI is a complete IT Infrastructure Monitoring Tool that can monitor your Cisco devices and much more, including applications, services, operating systems, network protocols, and network infrastructure. Its web-based interface is configurable and easy to use, providing at-a-glance access to monitoring information. One of the highlights of Nagios XI is a robust ecosystem with "thousands of community-developed add-ons that extend monitoring and native alerting functionality", alongside multiple APIs that facilitate integration with in-house or third-party applications. The "Home" dashboard on Nagios XI This includes hundreds of plugins to monitor aspects of all kinds of Cisco devices. Besides that, you can use the standard SNMP protocol to monitor routers and switches. The powerful and customizable web interface, combined with multi-user access, allows you to create user-specific views to ensure clients only see the infrastructure components they’re authorized for, enhancing observability and collaboration without risking exposure to sensitive information. Nagios XI is available in two editions, "Standard" and "Enterprise", and there is a fully functional 30-day free trial. It only runs natively under Linux, more specifically distributions like CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Ubuntu, or Debian. However, it can be run on Windows servers using virtualization solutions like VMWare, Virtual Box, or Hyper-V. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM, for short) offers "comprehensive Cisco device monitoring", including routers, switches, ASA firewalls, and ACI devices like spine switches and Nexus leaf. It offers automatic discovery of devices and dynamic network topology mapping, showing performance metrics, connectivity, and link utilization. Performance monitoring is done via SNMP, polling the MIB of each device to obtain metrics that are displayed on dashboards that can be customized to your needs. An overview of nodes and devices being managed by NPM. The alert system features "topology-aware, intelligent network alerting capabilities", reducing the flood of unnecessary alerts. Alerts can be customized to include exactly the information you need to solve an issue, and you can fine-tune sending parameters, so they are sent only during specific times or to specific members of your team. SolarWinds NPM can be deployed in the cloud (on Amazon Web Services, Azure, or Google Cloud) or on-premises. For an on-premises deployment, you will need Windows Server 2016, 2019, or 2022. There is a 30-day free trial available. Conclusion Among all these, our favorite Cisco network monitoring tool is Paessler PRTG, as it "ticks all the boxes" in our list of desired characteristics, and streamlines your workflow by enabling you to monitor all of your infrastructure with a single tool. That means you can do away with having to rely on a variety of individualized solutions, which can carry potential risks such as conflict with your current workflow and even network security issues. It really is a "Swiss army knife" of the monitoring tools. The built-in sensors cover many of the main use cases, without the need to purchase extras, so they can monitor your Cisco devices, but also your network, services, servers, IoT devices, cloud infrastructure, databases, and much more. And it is extensible, which means you can deploy third-party sensors, or even develop your own, to cover specific needs.