Best Monitoring Software for Servers?

I want to create a monitoring solution for my existing clients using a VPN, a Dell Server and some monitoring software.

My clients have their own Server and Workstations, connected together in a small LAN environment. Their offices are connected using a Draytek Router via ADSL 8Mbit. My proposition is to connect my site to the offices using a VPN, whilst at the same time preventing the transfer across the VPN of any non-monitoring-related data, such as domain information.

I'm looking for a monitoring solution which is cost effective, reliable, robust and most importantly something that can be focused at Small Businesses operating with no more than 75 users. The solution would need to be able to monitor servers, routers and switches in-terms of CPU/Memory usage, Free Disk Space, Error Reporting etc.

Another thing to mention is both my domain and their own domain is on a different subnet, IP range and totally different domain information.

I would appreciate any recommendations on a monitoring solution here. A bonus would be something that can monitor as close to real-time as possible.

Thanks in advance.
DReade83Asked:
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rvthostCommented:
Check out the very powerful tool, Nagios.  It's free :)  

http://nagios.org/about/
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Joel MillerDevOps EngineerCommented:
I suggest IPMonitor 8

https://www.ipmonitor.com
This software would cost you $1000 for up to 500 servers. Nagios is free, but it is defintely a lot more work and does not seem to have the support for Windows that IPMon does. There are some add-ons, but I had a lot of difficulty with them myself (not saying that you would.. ). If you are crunched for money and you think you can get it to do what you need, by all means, Nagios is the product for you. If you have the time, I would defintely give it a try, it is only my personal opinion that Nagios did not work for my situation. However, free is good if it does what you need :).

Since IPMon can run on Windows and monitor Windows, Linux, devices, and a lot of software itself, I like to choose this one for small buisness. It is easy to set up and does everything I ever needed.

There are others also, depending on your needs, but these are more for larger companies. I have used them all.
http://www.netiq.com/
http://www.symantec.com/enterprise/products/category.jsp?pcid=1021
https://www.ipmonitor.com/default.aspx
http://www.mercury.com/us/products/

I hope this helps!
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grayeCommented:
Actually the answer to your question, very much depends on what you call "monitoring".   For example, do you need real-time monitoring of devices or just a periodic "assest inventory" tool?  Do you need a solution that works with a dozen different vendor's products, or a "generic" solution?
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DReade83Author Commented:
Well really real-time monitoring would be great. I mean what could be better for a client than to phone up after their server has crashed, only to be told "We're aware and fixing the problem"... In my opinion, we'd be providing an efficient service. On the other hand there was another solution I came across recently called "Hound Dog" (www.hound-dog.co.uk) which runs on their own web servers and monitorings remotely with a client running on the server. This is good as it sends emails and SMS when the server dies or does something it shouldn't, however it's web based and if ever there was a routing problem which, isn't rare, then we wouldn't be able to contact our monitoring server.

I would prefer to run everything locally, on a dedicated server w/ 2 LAN cards, separating the VPN network from the internal domain.

I have been looking at the likes of GFI but even 5 IP addresses being monitored is expensive, too much for a small business! Amazing software, but too expensive.

So getting back to the question, I am after something that can run in real-time, possibly over a VPN too.

The only problem I have is how to setup the VPN in the first instance. It's not something I've ever done before, but I have a good idea on what I have to do. I need to be able to separate my LAN from the VPN LAN and block the transfer of domain info, files, print jobs etc... basically make my network invisible to all my clients and vice versa. However I have to be able to allow the monitoring software access to their networks at the same time. Any idea how I could go about doing all this?

Thanks in advance.
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Zach2001Commented:
I use http://www.ks-soft.net/hostmon.eng/index.htm - don't let the website put you off!

It's cheap as chips and does some wonderful things, easy to configure, logs / reports and alerts all very easy to setup.  It also does some quite advanced WMI stuff - AND the forums are gathering pace with lots of tips on monitoring all aspects of Windows Perf Logs.

This works from a server side, but also supports reporting agents, which are very powerfull.

I have dozens of clients and hundreds of servers and hundreds and hundreds of users under the eye of this program.

I wouldn't go down the multiple VPN route, If I were you, too much to maintain in themselves and, should you have a breach of security yourself, you could be looking at more than just a red-face - but a lack of clients and possibly a court case ;)

If you MUST use VPN's get yourself a reliable and easy to manage / upgrade firewall, like WinRoute and allow only monitored ports through.

However I would strongly recommend using only glyph-authentication based remote control (RDP) and limiting that at client side to your static IP.  If this isn’t possible I would recommend using 2 factor authentication of some means too.

If you are looking for something utterly simple, What’s up? Gold seems to be popular…

z
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