Network traffic analysis: Interpreting the evolving monitoring strategy and the difference NetFlow Analyzer makes

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October 01, 2023

The advancing digital transformation witnessed in today’s world has made enterprises become highly reliant on networks. Huge volumes of traffic, highly powerful applications, and busy servers are the new norm of IT infrastructures—making them complex and vulnerable to issues.

Organizations should keep track of what lies beneath the network’s activity. This could span anything from monitoring individual users’ experience, traffic behavior, and overall bandwidth usage to saving networks from threats and inefficiencies.

The need of the hour: network traffic analysis

Network traffic analysis is when the reliability and security of business-specific applications are tracked by monitoring, optimizing, and troubleshooting bandwidth usage. Recurring slowness issues or traffic spikes can be completely unpredictable and difficult to resolve if left unmonitored.

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Network traffic analysis captures the flow information from network devices to give you context on everyday traffic behavior, the intervals of the traffic spikes (if any), and historical reports on traffic trends to find the root cause.

To make traffic analysis efficient and understand your network’s demands better, you can utilize an automated network traffic analysis tool. Network traffic analysis tools monitor all the endpoints, clarify queries on network’s quality and quantity, and alert you on network incidents to reduce their impact. Here are a few more pointers that proves their edge in your everyday network traffic monitoring.

Advantages of using traffic analysis tools

Although dynamic technologies such as cloud computing, APIs, and SaaS applications can increase the operational efficiency of businesses, they can also induce network issues with respect to security or slowness. Since businesses tend to experience a growth in security incidents that coincides with a growth in data volume, it can be increasingly difficult to detect these issues and troubleshoot them without the right strategy. Network traffic analysis using tools can provide a practical solution for all the network issues by providing in-depth visibility into the traffic flow information to capture, detect, and plan the capacity.

Improved security: As hackers have become more creative these days, it’s getting difficult for the admins to spot where the security issues start from. In particular, most worms like Clop ransomware can cost organizations more than they can imagine. With the anomaly detection that network traffic analysis tools offer, admins can avoid breaches by blocking traffic coming from IP addresses that don’t belong to their organization.

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Enhanced network performance: By knowing the context of bandwidth usage by each user and device, one can see whether the bandwidth rightfully allocated and eliminate traffic spikes by blocking certain bandwidth-hogging applications.

Immediate response to issues: Unlike manual monitoring, automated traffic analysis can detect issues and alert admins without delays. Therefore, admins can reduce the mean time to respond (MTTR) whenever the network’s behavior doesn’t fit its baseline.

A checklist to choose the right traffic analysis tool

Although most network traffic analysis tools can offer the above discussed benefits, each organization is different from others. The size and the existing infrastructure of enterprises may call for a tool that has extended benefits to customize based on requirements. So, what are the basic features one should look for? Here’s the list:

Configurable reporting: The goals and objectives for each enterprise are different, and what might appear as a critical metric for one enterprise will not necessarily be important for other enterprises. However, there are some specific metrics and datasets that many enterprises need to monitor to help solve issues like slowness or congestion. Some tools can offer features to report for that particular criteria, like searching for bandwidth usage of a particular IP address, application, or protocol to analyze the productivity ratio.

Extended support for vendors: The hassle of tool implementation to monitor just a single infrastructure can be huge if its not flexible enough to support different vendors, as the admins have to keep purchasing more tools for visibility. And each tool comes with a learning curve that can take months to learn. So, the tool you purchase should make the monitoring easier by supporting different vendors.

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Optimization options: IT monitoring is a huge domain that covers network monitoring and network management. While network monitoring is about collecting the traffic data insights, network management involves procedures to strategize the bandwidth allocation so that in short order there are no congestion issues. The tool you choose should let you define which applications are important and how much bandwidth they should use.

How NetFlow Analyzer qualifies as an ideal traffic analysis tool

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a one-stop solution for all the bandwidth monitoring needs that arise in today’s world of dynamic network management. A traffic analysis tool’s core purpose is to make your network efficient and secure.

Although many solutions have these capabilities, they fail network admins right in the initial integration stages. Whereas with NetFlow Analyzer, most of the hassle in implementation and monitoring can be eradicated. You can leverage five different advantages like:

  • Full-fledged visibility into hybrid network

Many enterprises are switching to hybrid networking because of enhanced reliability and streamlined uptime. While this advancement can be a huge advantage, analyzing the data and troubleshooting issues can become impossible without visibility into the ever-growing amount of traffic volume generated. NetFlow Analyzer offers in-depth insights into each network nodes’ network traffic to keep this advancement streamlined. You can find traffic patterns for every minute by IP addresses, applications, interfaces and ports, or protocols. You can monitor both wired and wireless networks, and find why and how a particular user is accessing the network to keep the usage business-specific.

  • Improvise your network’s security posture

NetFlow Analyzer allows you to differentiate between sources of traffic by their nature, helping you identify the suspicious traffic by attributes. NetFlow Analyzer also offers preconfigured detection algorithms with its advanced Security analytics module. What might appear as an instance of legitimate traffic can be a disguised attack—such as a trick to make admins believing it’s business transaction—and NetFlow Analyzer helps admins tackle these issues.

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The reason behind a traffic spike at 2am on a weekend can be found out with NetFlow Analyzer’s continuous stream mining engine. Admins can observe how intruders are trying to invade their attack surface and configure alerts to notify them during any such abnormal events.

  • Provisioning insights on cloud traffic

On the one hand, cloud computing is all about security, flexibility, and agility. However, there are challenges like congestion issues or insufficient bandwidth that you can observe using heaps of traffic data. NetFlow Analyzer’s cloud traffic monitoring allows you to identify the cloud traffic information of your Amazon AWS resources by source, destination, applications, and IP addresses, as well as find network anomalies and generate traffic trends reports for troubleshooting and bandwidth management insights.

  • Provides automated alerts on threshold violations for reduced MTTR

Receive updates on your network’s traffic behavior each time it goes outside the admin-defined “normal” parameters. You can set thresholds for when NetFlow Analyzer should alert you, either with real-time or aggregated traffic alerts. By defining the severity of issues and mentioning the mode of notifications, you can make your troubleshooting process easy.

  • Supports multiple flow technologies

NetFlow Analyzer is a multi-vendor based traffic monitoring tool which supports multiple flow technologies like NetFlow, sFlow, J-Flow, cFlow, AppFlow, IPFIX, and so on. While other tools in the market limit their capabilities for certain technologies, and demands multiple solutions for traffic management, NetFlow Analyzer’s capability reduces overhead and the time needed for implement.

  • Comes with first and third-party integrations and add-ons

You can explore other silos of network management with add-ons like application monitoring, configuration management, switch port management, and ticket creation for troubleshooting issues with other ManageEngine products: Applications Manager, Network Configuration Manager (NCM), OpUtils, and ServiceDesk Plus. NetFlow Analyzer also comes with webhook integration and other third-party integrations like ServiceNow, Slack, Jira, etc.

To sum up

Network performance and security are the two new silos of IT spending, and network operators should keep track of both to ensure beneficial returns and successful expansion. Deep insights into network availability, the ability to point to the origin of bandwidth bottlenecks, and real-time traffic behavior monitoring of the network are all critical, and the right traffic analysis tool—such as NetFlow Analyzer—can be a better strategy than any other typical monitoring solution.

Get a tour of our product with a personalized demo and begin your effective traffic analysis journey!