Network monitoring software can keep an eye on network traffic and bandwidth usage. It can check whether crucial network components, such as switches, routers, and servers, are up or down. Network managers can generally set thresholds for acceptable performance, and if the software finds slow throughput, high error rates, unavailable devices, or slow response times, it can send alerts to administrators via email or SMS text message. Advanced systems can even send alerts to remote administrators via carrier pigeon or mental telepathy, although the cost to maintain pigeon lofts and keep telepaths on staff is prohibitive for most organizations.
Among the areas that network monitoring software can track are email servers, web/HTTP servers, network traffic, DNS servers, WAN links, storage devices, network-hosted databases, virtual machines (VM), and cloud services, and it can check on both availability and response time. Some packages also handle service-level agreement (SLA) and quality of service (QoS) monitoring. In addition to providing alerts, some applications offer graphical reporting that displays a dashboard illustrating relevant statistics, providing a single pane of glass with which to manage the entire infrastructure. Sysadmins can generally drill down to analyze specific statistics or get detailed device information by clicking on a graph in the display.