Networks are the essential structure in the fast-growing field of information technology that makes it easier for organisations to communicate and share data. They act as the foundation for smooth interactions between workers, departments, and other interested parties. Network administrators play an important role in ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of these networks. Their responsibilities include configuring network equipment, diagnosing connectivity difficulties, putting in place security measures, and optimising performance.
The professionals are responsible for ensuring that networks remain operational, secure, and dependable at all times. They are continually monitoring network traffic, identifying possible vulnerabilities, and implementing risk mitigation measures.
Additionally, network administrators are responsible for remaining current on the latest technology breakthroughs and industry best practices to respond to changing risks and problems.
So, in this post, we will look at some of the most popular network administrator tools available on the market. However, let us first understand what network administration is.
Network administration is the process of managing an organisation’s computer networks. Its primary goal is to guarantee that these networks function properly, securely, and reliably. Network administrators are responsible for configuring, managing, and supporting network infrastructure, which includes both hardware and software components.
Their responsibilities include configuring networks, diagnosing problems that develop, monitoring performance, and administering security measures. They work promptly to resolve any issues that develop to keep the networks working efficiently and uninterrupted. They also focus on adopting security measures to secure the organisation’s data and systems against cyberattacks.
In simple terms, network administration is a diverse field that requires a combination of technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and adaptability.
A network monitoring tool is software that monitors and analyses the performance and availability of computer networks. It continually gathers data on network devices, traffic, and services, delivering real-time information about network health. Administrators may use these technologies to quickly discover issues, including outages, congestion, and security breaches.
The top network monitoring tools are:
Wireshark: Wireshark is a robust packet analyser programme that enables network administrators to collect and analyse network data in real time. It offers precise information about each packet, such as its source, destination, protocol, and contents. Administrators can use Wireshark to troubleshoot network difficulties, detect aberrant traffic patterns, and diagnose problems like network congestion or security breaches.
Nagios: Nagios is an open-source monitoring system that enables administrators to identify and address network failures and performance issues. It continually monitors network devices, services, and applications and sends notifications when problems occur. Nagios provides proactive monitoring and may be tailored to an organisation’s particular requirements. It is extremely scalable and commonly used in both local and large settings.
SolarWinds NPM: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a full-featured network monitoring tool that delivers real-time visibility into network performance and device health. It includes capabilities like network topology mapping, performance monitoring, and customisable warnings. SolarWinds NPM enables administrators to proactively discover and resolve network issues, optimise performance, and maintain the dependability of important network infrastructure.
A network configuration tool is software that automates the configuration and administration of network devices such as routers, switches, and firewalls. It streamlines activities such as device configuration, deployment, and upgrades, assuring consistency and efficiency throughout the network infrastructure while lowering the risk of human mistakes.
Top configuration tools:
PuTTY: PuTTY is a flexible terminal emulator that is commonly used to configure network devices using protocols such as SSH, Telnet, and serial connections. It offers a straightforward yet powerful interface for accessing and operating network devices, making it a popular choice among administrators and engineers.
Attune: Attune is a comprehensive IT Automation and Orchestration solution from ServerTribe, designed to simplify and streamline network administration tasks. This tool stands out for its ability to automate scripts, commands, and processes exactly as they would be entered manually into a terminal such as PuTTY.
Multi-device coordination is streamlined through its interface, allowing simultaneous operations across different devices and environments. Provides rapid debugging and editing capabilities during job runs, allowing for in-job script modifications without the need to restart the process.
Attune is a powerful and versatile tool for network administrators, offering a range of automation and orchestration capabilities that are essential for managing complex IT environments efficiently and effectively. Its adaptability, debugging features, and support for both physical and virtual environments make it an invaluable asset for modern network administration.
Cisco Packet Tracer: The Cisco Packet Tracer is a simulation tool developed exclusively for Cisco networking equipment. It enables users to create, manage, and debug virtual network environments that simulate real-world settings. Packet Tracer is frequently utilised in educational settings, allowing students and professionals to acquire hands-on experience with Cisco technology in a safe and regulated environment.
Security and firewall tools are software or hardware solutions that safeguard computer networks from unauthorised access, malicious activity, and cyber attacks. They monitor and regulate incoming and outgoing network traffic, enforce security regulations, and identify and block suspicious activity to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of network assets.
The top security and firewall tools are:
Nmap: It is a powerful tool for network research and security audits. It searches networks to find devices and open ports, delivering vital information about network structure and potential vulnerabilities, making it an indispensable tool for network managers and security specialists.
Wi-Fi Analysers (e.g., NetSpot, inSSIDer): It optimises wireless networks by analysing interference, signal quality, and channel congestion. They assist network managers in determining ideal settings, troubleshooting connectivity difficulties, and improving overall Wi-Fi performance.
Snort: Snort is an open-source intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) that examines network data for unusual activities. It analyses packets in real-time, notifies administrators of possible security risks, and may automate measures to prevent or mitigate attacks, therefore improving network security posture and threat detection capabilities.
Bandwidth management tools are software solutions for monitoring, controlling, and optimising network bandwidth utilisation. They assist administrators in monitoring bandwidth use, prioritising traffic, and enforcing regulations to ensure equitable allocation of network resources. These techniques are critical for ensuring network performance, reducing congestion, and increasing efficiency.
Top bandwidth management tools:
NetFlow Analyzer (e.g., PRTG Network Monitor): A network management tool that uses the NetFlow protocol to visualise and analyse bandwidth utilisation. It collects and analyses flow data from network devices to get insights into traffic patterns, application usage, and bandwidth consumption.
SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol): It is a standard protocol that collects and organises performance data from network devices such as routers, switches, and servers. It enables network managers to actively monitor device status, measure performance data, and discover faults.
Network management is critical for efficient IT operations and secure networks. Various tools help administrators manage and optimise network infrastructure. Keeping up with new technologies becomes essential for successfully navigating the digital realm. Administrators use a combination of skills and technologies to guarantee that networks run smoothly in the digital age.