Network visualization (also known as graph visualization) helps you identify connections between data points that are difficult to understand through spreadsheets or charts. This improves root cause analysis, performance visibility and makes IT teams more efficient.
Network visualization tools give administrators a graphical representation of relationships (called edges or links) between devices in an IT network. This information is critical to troubleshooting issues and understanding the overall network infrastructure. It allows administrators to easily identify device dependencies and locate devices that may be responsible for a problem, which is more intuitive than sorting through text-based reports.
A network map is the most common type of network visualization, offering visibility into the physical layout of a network. These maps can be static or dynamic; some offer real-time insight into a network’s status. Static maps are a great way to understand the overall structure of a network, while dynamic maps update automatically and can be zoomed in to see granular data on ports and traffic flows.
Graphs and charts are also a popular method of visualizing data. These network visualizations are best suited for showing trends over time and can help pinpoint bottlenecks in applications such as an organization’s data center. The human brain processes visuals faster than text, making them a more effective method of conveying information and understanding complex relationships. Many network monitoring software solutions have built-in networking visualization features, including network mapping and topology mapping functionality.
Using network visualizations to display relationships between devices allows you to communicate information. This enables personnel to understand what’s happening and address issues quickly. It also saves time that would otherwise be spent wading through a sea of status information. For example, a network map helps you visualize device connections and highlights affected or vulnerable areas. This helps you locate the source of the problem, improves coordination with on-field teams, and resolves issues before they become bigger problems.
Viewing your entire IT infrastructure in a single map lets you quickly identify and respond to security incidents or performance issues. This is a critical advantage over other methods of monitoring and troubleshooting. This type of visual representation also helps you make better decisions about how to allocate resources. There are a variety of software tools that you can use for network visualization.
A well-designed network visualization lays out data in a clear, organized way so it can be more easily interpreted. This can help analysts understand patterns in the dataset and spot anomalies faster. Having this visibility also allows them to find the right solutions quicker.
A good example is a network map showing the physical connections between devices on your network. This can enable you to troubleshoot issues with the right level of granularity, like finding out why an application isn’t working by tracing its path in your network.
Other types of network visualization include functional topology mapping and logical network mapping. These highlight the flow of information based on its behavior rather than its location physically, which offers admins insights into potential bottlenecks and performance-related problems.
It’s also worth noting that some of the most popular network visualization tools are free and open-source. Other network visualization software combines network mapping with performance monitoring to deliver true single-pane-of-glass visibility. This gives you a unified view of networks, applications, dependency relationships, and more across multiple views and dashboards.
Network visualization tools can help locate correlations and patterns that would otherwise go undetected in text-based formats. This helps teams locate problematic areas and make more informed decisions.
In addition, the human brain processes visual information much faster than text-based data. Using network mapping to gain an overview of your IT infrastructure and understand the interconnectivity of each site improves coordination with on-site IT teams when troubleshooting issues.
Many free and commercial software solutions for network visualization, including graph databases. For the tech-savvy, installing a Python or R-based solution provides maximum customization and control over your data. For beginners, several free online network visualization tools are available to explore and analyze your networks. This software offers comprehensive network scanning capabilities, including logical network topology mapping. This capability and its advanced alerting functionality ensure you can quickly move from detection to diagnostics and resolve any potential IT challenges. It is also designed to keep your network map and other topological data updated in real-time, which is especially helpful when monitoring for device changes. This can help you identify issues and prevent costly outages. The software is also built to meet PCI compliance and FIPS 140-2 standards.
The human brain processes visual data much faster than textual data. This is especially true when exploring relationships within a dataset, hierarchies of information, or the connections between them. Therefore, a visualization tool is a fast and intuitive way to make key decisions and understand business growth.
For example, suppose a network administrator needs to investigate a performance issue. In that case, finding the problematic device on a map is faster than scouring through logs and other reports. Moreover, network visualizations provide the big picture and granular detail in one view.