Introduction to Network Discovery
Network administrators are required to manage the LAN and WAN edge devices for the companies. In addition to technical skills in the domain, some tools and utilities are key to manage the whole IT setup. One such tool requirement is of Network Discovery tool. “Network Discovery” can be defined as the process that allows computers and devices that exist in the same network, to find one another. This kind of process is the first step that system administrators perform in order to map and monitor network infrastructures. Another term frequently used for the same process is “Topology Discovery”.
Network Discovery is divided in two aspects –
- The first aspect is related on how to find all the “IP addresses on the same network”
- The second aspect is related on “how these devices are connected” in the same network.
The importance of the first aspect is that it helps to ensure that every IP allocated address is valid and that the network is configured properly without abandoned subnets or IP addresses. The second aspect helps to identify bottlenecks and performance for every connected device, without errors or availability issues.
Network Discovery Tools
Manually performing the validation of each device and topology/device mapping can be a cumbersome job. There are many available software tools in the market that help the process without risks and errors. These tools in general improve troubleshooting performance issues and save system administrators from tedious and time consuming operations. In this article the most effective tools are briefly described below:
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor: This software solution, although named as a monitoring software tool, has an internal network discovery feature. The main function is network scanning and display of network topology via a visual mapping interface. Another effective specification is the embedded NetPath function, which displays pathways from local network to destination services. Furthermore, in addition to IP address discovery, port location discovery, and mapping functions, Network Performance Monitor includes performance monitoring services in order to help identify information. It also is capable of security features and alerts from a centralized network management tool.
- Nagios XI: Nagios XI, Is one of the most advanced platform for network performance and monitoring purposes. It is imparted from a user friendly and graphic intensive interface, including a centralized console and dashboard. In addition to the above, the user can access useful graphs related to network incidents, bandwidth allocation and health status. Further, the GUI is customizable, which allows the user to change the display layout, design and color themes according to his own preferences.
- Intermapper: This tool was developed by HelpSystems and it is one of the simplest utilities in the IT industry. Intermapper tool includes network performance monitoring capabilities, however considered to be limited against the competition. It performs well for Its primary use, which is mainly for discovering and mapping networks. The included mapping tool can also discover the internal network (including all physical and virtual devices with IP address) and creates a customized map. Finally, Intermapper updates automatically and displays on screen network performance data on real time.
- Advanced IP Scanner: This simplified tool is designed for primary needs such as network mapping by simple IP scanning. It is an open source software without any subscriptions which makes it ideal for small sized organizations. According to the manufacturer’s site, the remote administration software is required in combination for a 100% functionality. Its main functions include scanning and identification of Windows PC’s on the user’s network and has the ability to shut down and wake up computers remotely.
Getting to know Network Discovery tools is essential because it provides deep insight on what is going on inside an organization’s network and allows system administrators to monitor different services or even regularly check for security vulnerabilities and errors.
Furthermore, any organization that relies on complex virtual networks, wired and wireless networks and cloud servers will require IT’s needs for network discovery software tools.
Complex and hybrid networks can intricate the network topology and make it difficult to identify the initial cause of an error when it occurs. This way, Network Discovery helps to resolve this issue by illuminating network connections and related nuances.
Also ND (Network Discovery) Tools can troubleshoot more quickly network bandwidth bottlenecks that affect an organization’s every day operations.
Hope the article helped in enlightening on Network discovery and some of the tools used in industry nowadays. Notably, there are strong anticipation for a greater evolution in the IT industry, with new Government/private sector Funding opportunities for scientists and engineers, to continue research on Network Technologies and inventing new improved discovery tools with far more abilities and efficiency than present toolset.