Network admin’s guide to synthetic monitoring


As a network administrator, you are well acquainted with the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), as well as a number of paid tools used to monitor private local and wide area networks. Monitoring traffic as it traverses the internet, however, is a different type of challenge -- one that can’t be monitored with SNMP. Instead, administrators must use other methods to isolate performance bottlenecks scattered across the vast and complex web of public network components known as the Internet.

Synthetic monitoring triangulates problems by testing performance and reachability from hundreds of vantage points. It also complements your Domain Name Service (DNS), Content Delivery Network (CDN), and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) monitoring to provide a comprehensive perspective.

You can find a detailed technical explanation of DNS and CDN concepts in our guide to synthetic monitoring.

In this guide, we’ll cover the technologies that make the Internet tick, such as:

  • Internet Exchange Points (IXP)
  • Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)
  • Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
  • IP Transit

This guide also includes a list of sixteen free online tools available to help network engineers troubleshoot internet performance problems. The following diagram provides context for the concepts that will be covered in the  chapters that follow.

The Internet is made up of internet exchange points (IXP) and Autonomous Systems that exchange routes via the border gateway protocol (BGP)