What is network visualization?

Network visualization definition is self-descriptive as it recreates your network layout on a single screen, displaying information about network devices, network metrics, and data flows in the form of graphs and charts, offering at-a-glance understanding and decision-making for IT operations teams.

What are the benefits of network visualization?

Enhanced network visibility: Network visualization dashboard enables total visibility into the entire network, letting IT operations teams see the architecture and dependency of each device in a glance. Network visibility is essential at a network operations center level, where an entire team on the same floor will be constantly monitoring the network to keep it running. Enhanced network visibility ensures the IT operations team can keep constant tabs on the network with no room for confusion or error.

Quick troubleshooting: A reliable network visualization software notifies you instantly when an issue has occurred or a device has become vulnerable. This gives you ample time to resolve the problem before it's too late. Visualizing networks lets you see where the problem is, allowing you to focus your efforts on troubleshooting and root cause analysis.

When a device in your network is down, with one glance, you will also be able to understand the nodes and devices connected to the affected device. This, in turn, ensures you can focus your efforts on coordinating with the team and troubleshooting the issue quickly before it spreads to other devices in the network.

Efficient network planning: Planning for the future needs of the network becomes easier with network visualization tools. The current resource utilization trends along with the inventory and device linkages give you detailed information that helps you make informed decisions. Network planning is the first step when you're relocating your business or expanding on a global scale. Constant network planning is necessary over the lifetime of the network as well. All such processes are simplified and made viable when you have a map of the network in your hand.

Improved communication: Visual information can never hurt. It is clear and to the point, offering no ambiguity. This translates into less time spent by the personnel trying to understand what is conveyed. Network visualizations project the right visuals, showing a situation clearly so that the specific problem can be addressed rather than wasting time trying to understand the problem itself.

The size and scale of networks grows perpetually, making IT network management a challenging exercise. A simple status check of devices in the network will mean going through enormous amounts of status information. Gathering a comprehensive understanding of the layout of the network is crucial and can be the game-changer in solving most issues before they escalate.

Teams overseeing modern and fast-growing networks face a number of challenges, including:

  • Continuously scaling networks: Adding new devices or upgrading existing device specifications are some ways organizations scale up their networks. A network administrator needs comprehensive network visualization system where they can see real-time changes. An ideal network visualization tool should not only provide end-to-end visibility across your organization, but it should convey this information in an understandable way and offer actionable insights.

  • Discovering network faults and issues: It can be difficult to know about network faults and issues in a large network, even with network visualization techniques. This is why alerts and alarms are crucial. Alerts should be shown next to the specific area on the network map or on a common dashboard so that incident response can be quick. The alerts should carry information like severity level along with the cause of the issue.

  • Providing visibility into infrastructures and sites: Site-level insights are crucial to gain visibility into a specific site, understand how data is interconnected, and manage the performance of the server provider. Site-level insights improve coordination with on-field teams while solving issues.

Network visualization - an overview

Types of network visualization

Network maps Network maps are one of the most common ways to visualize a network. Network maps visualize the entire network topology, including all the devices, physical connections, logical connections, and even the floor plan of the network infrastructure.

Network maps come in two types: static network maps and dynamic network maps.

  • Static network maps: Static network maps, or network diagrams, are maps that depict a fixed view of the network topology, giving you a snapshot of the actual state of a network at a particular time from the past. Static network maps are useful for understanding the original, intended layout of the network.

  • Dynamic network maps: Dynamic maps are automated in how they reflect changes that happen to the network by constantly adding data in real time. Dynamic network maps are interactive in nature, allowing you to drill down to specific metrics, devices, and traffic by clicking on areas of the map. The automation makes sure that no time is spent drawing or detailing the map manually. Dynamic network maps are also the most detailed, depicting the network right down to the endpoint level.

Charts and graphs

Charts and graphs are effective for understanding trends and comparing sets of data. The state of a network's health can be ascertained quickly through a wide variety of charts and graphs. Graphs can outline the performance of a metric over a period, while charts are handy for comparison of metrics between devices or interfaces. For instance, a metric like packet loss can be graphed over a period, giving you a picture of the trends and patterns over time, helping you optimize the network accordingly.

Dashboards

When data is presented in different types of charts, graphs, metrics, and widgets on a single screen, it's called a dashboard. Dashboards let you bring all the key performance indicators and other metrics of your network onto a single page. A visualization of network elements and impact on performance is presented on this single page. With this network-layer view, you can determine what part of the network is working suboptimally, what part is working at top capacity, and make changes as needed. Dashboards are essentially a compilation of all crucial information you need for your network.

Mapping geographic distribution using Google Maps

Google Maps as a map source can be used to visualize your network by arranging devices on maps based on their geographic distribution. Using this feature, you can understand the geographic distribution of your network at a local, regional, or global scale.

OpManager: The all-inclusive network visualization solution for your business

OpManager enables administrators to easily monitor complex, distributed, and ever-growing networks. Thanks to OpManager's extensive network monitoring and network visualization capabilities, an administrator can instantly gain visibility into the true layout of the network and graphically replicate the infrastructure. OpManager provides a variety of mapping options all at your fingertips so that you can efficiently manage your network.

More on network visualisation

Why is network visualization important?

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