Network monitoring solutions are an essential part of the service provided by MSPs to their customers yet the variation in quality (and consequently customer satisfaction) are enormous. So are the challenges faced by MSPs.
The most typical concerns have to do with monitoring highly diversified network environments. Depending on the service contract, MSPs may need to manage just network devices, just servers or workstations alone, or a combination of all of these at the same time. Sometimes, these internally diverse networks are not even directly accessible by the monitoring server. The reasons for this may include security policy or routers with dynamic IP addresses, amongst others. Add to this overlapping address ranges and the requirement for customers to access the monitoring data, and you get a highly demanding standard — one that not all monitoring solutions can live up to.
NetXMS has the answers to all of these challenges
First is its proxy functionality. Any NetXMS agent can act as a proxy for other agents and SNMP devices. This is a firewall-friendly solution when communicating with the server — all that’s needed is a single, open TCP port. Connection can be established either way — server to agent or agent to server. At the same time, security is not even a tiny bit compromised — all communications are encrypted and additional authentication is also possible, if necessary.
The second important feature is zoning. NetXMS allows the monitored networks to be divided into independent parts. All communication with devices within a zone is then executed through the proxy. More than one proxy can be used for each zone for load balancing in case of communication failure with one of the proxies, which makes NetXMS exceptionally flexible and stable in its performance. Each of the zones may have overlapping IP addresses, yet the monitoring server will still be able to build a correct topology with complete information on each zone.
The third important aspect of NetXMS which makes it especially useful for MSPs is its flexible access control system. Access can be granted to all monitored devices, to just a certain group or even to individual devices, defining specific access rights for each case: read-only access, viewing or updating alarms, executing commands, etc. This allows an MSP to provide the necessary access to its customers according to their requirements, while also ensuring that each client cannot access the data of another. For additional presentation options for monitoring data, integration with Grafana — a powerful data visualization tool — is available out of the box.
And the cherry on the cake — a user support application. This is a small application that sits in tray on the user workstation and provides basic information and tools. It allows users to quickly send an email to support or execute local actions which are configured remotely by a monitoring system administrator using specific policies. Making screenshots and screencasts, as well as sending notifications to all users or certain user groups, is also a useful option for service providers.