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Which system/server/network monitoring/management tool

Posted on 2009-07-14
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I want to setup a network/server monitoring/management tool in the coming weeks and I am mainly considering Nagios, Groundwork Open Source and Spring Source - Hyperic

I already run a cacti server to monitor all the servers here (a heterogeneous environment on the server side) and have been really pleased with Cacti as a tool, however now I want to extend that further.

Does anyone have advice about a particular system to use or try out?

Can anyone offer any advice on which would be the better choice of the three options I listed, or even reccomend another alternative?
The reasoning is the important part of this question - why is one system better than another in your opinion?

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Question by:QEMS
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by:flob9
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I use munin since a while, easy to install/customize, but far more basic than the solutions you listed.

You can check collectd too, which can be plugged to nagios.
 
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by:Roachy1979
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I use Nagios quite heavily and the best advice I can offer is to document heavily how you do it - there are many ways to set Nagios up as it reads config files from the conf.d folder on starting - which means that unless you standardise filenames, hostgroups and services then it can be a pig to manage.   Nagios is a bit of a long-winded product to set up, but it's amazingly powerful and extensible....and it's portable, so you could easily set up on a testbed first and then copy the config files over to the final server...
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by:that1guy15
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I agree with Roachy1979, Nagios would be my choice since it works well with Cacti and many people run this combo so there is good support out there.

Nagios has a HUGE learning curve and requires a LOT of initial time for setup. But as Roachy said it is a great tool.

IMHO I switched from Nagios to Zenoss for my network about 2 years ago basically because it did a better job with Windows servers. Plus it was simple to setup and manage. Graphing and alerting were also very impresive.
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by:QEMS
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Thank you both for your comments.

Roachy1979 is there any particular reason why you use Nagios rather than any other option? I have heard of the challenge of setting up nagios, but its probably worth it for the added functionality.

I always try to document everything I do - for my own reference and for delegation purposes!
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by:QEMS
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that1guy15 - I missed your comment when I put my reply on here - thanks for your input.

What were your reasons for changing to Zenoss from Nagios? Purely better support for Windows servers or because of the simplicity of setup compared to Nagios?
How does the graphing and alerting in Zenoss compare to Nagios (and to Groundwork and Hyperic if you are familiar with these)?
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I looked at Zenoss too.....but Nagios was the first box I set up for monitoring and there are loads of resources and additional plugins available to help you do anything....so in the end for familiarity's sake I stuck with Nagios....I think the 2 products are on a par....but as that1guy15 states....you might get better mileage if you're running Windows servers with Zenoss...

That said - http://nagios.sourceforge.net/docs/3_0/monitoring-windows.html gives a good tutorial on monitoring Windows machines
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by:that1guy15
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I was never really ever able to get Windows fully monitored how I wanted in Nagios. Zenoss uses WMI calles to collect what ever information you want out of a Windows box. So with WMI you can basically grab anything you want. Just by default zenoss will monitor all services, ports, and installed software. There are also free plug-ins that allow you to monitor others areas such as Exchange and Acitve directory.

One of my biggest reasons was the learning curve. Non of the other admins in my company would work with Nagios because of this. They just didnt have the time to sit down and learn it. So I was the only person that could do anything with it. Zenoss took all of an afternoon to teach them the basics and get them up to speed.

Graphing i would say is comparable to Cacti. Anything that can be collected via zenoss can be graphed.

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by:that1guy15
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Now dont get me wrong. Zenoss is not a "set it and forget it" NMS. I spent a good 3-4 months after launch tweeking and tuning. The biggest challenge i faced was the onslot of collected information from all the devices and the alerts that would come out of them. I spent a lot of time figuring out why an alarm came through and then realizing it was something we really didnt care about.

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by:Roachy1979
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>I spent a lot of time figuring out why an alarm came through and then realizing it was something we really didnt care about.

Ditto with Nagios.....lol

There's a definite fine-tuning exercise with anything like this I think.....but it's better to set a load of alerts in the early days and then reduce the sensitivity of your monitoring until you find a level that works for you..... You don't want to be woken up all night with SMS messages about stuff that can wait until morning, as I found out to my cost! (incidentally, I find email->sms gateways are very useful though...)
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by:Kamran Arshad
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Hi,

I depends on what type of monitoring you wish to do. I think to monitor services, Hyperic HQ is more decent option. Nagios is tough to manage though nice tool with many additional plugins which can be merged to make it a complete solution.
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by:Kamran Arshad
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Hi,

I depends on what type of monitoring you wish to do. I think to monitor services, Hyperic HQ is more decent option. Nagios is tough to manage though nice tool with many additional plugins which can be merged to make it a complete solution.
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by:Aaron Street
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www.mutiny.com

If ever I move company its the one tool I wish to take with me..

easy enough for the new It helpdesk staff to get there heads round. and indepth enough for the admins to get a good idea of where problems are and what needs looking at..

Yes you will need other tools on top of this, however its the kind of tool that is the first line of defence. and as you out grow some areas of it you simple get a better tool for that one area. Rather than start of with a hidious complex system that you never most of, or have the time to set up corectly.
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by:kshych
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www.spiceworks.com/

Free. You've got all you need there.
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by:QEMS
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Thanks for the additional comments.

I had looked at spiceworks, but as the free version appeared to be supported by advertising I was not so sure about it compared to an open source solution. Is there anything that really makes it stand out above the other options?

Also, can anyone comment on the communities and avenues of support for any of these options?

I have had a quick look around for books and there appear to be quite a lot of books on the subject of setting up and running Nagios, I found one book on Zenoss and no books for any other options. Is this representitive of the size of the community (and userbase of the software), the ease of setup of different systems or something else entirely?

Also a very quick (and unscientific) search on here for numbers of questions/solutions for the options listed above appears to indicate that Nagios is the most widely used or most problematic depending on how you look at it!

I suppose if the functionality is quite similar, then the level of community support, quality of documentation and ease of setup and use become key priorities.
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by:Aaron Street
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http://demo.mutiny.com/views/index.do?view=wqlm

double click on a node to open it up
click on the different areas to see the stats

if a threshold is breached the node changes from green, through amber to red.

you can change the limits if you wish and customise each node, or keep with the defaults.

settign up is jsut point and click, once you have set up one node the rest are identical, and there is the usual network discovery method. and as you can see you can monitor things like dns, exchange as well as the physical aspect of your hard ware

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by:Aaron Street
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oh I forgot to say you can build up grops of noded in vies. if a node goes red, then the group goes red. so its a real drill down, from group, through node, to instance of error on node.

from the front page of my system, i can with at most three clicks see what systems on any node are in error! That means your first line support staff can be keeping an eye on mutiny, and be raising problems with your engineers and admins, passing them information specific to the issue, such as

disk x has fail in array z on server Y.

its stright forward enough to set up that the network guys can look after adding and configuring the network nodes, the server guys look after the servers nodes. it means every one in the IT unit can have both an input in to settign it up and also getting info out of it.

That I think it the strenth of Mutiny, every one in the unit can have access to it to see what is going on, rather than other systems that are so specilised and complex that only the people who have time to spend learning them are able to get any usefull info out of them.
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by:that1guy15
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With Nagios you are going to find lots of support out there, but for the most part (from my experiance) those helping you expect you to have a solid understanding of Nagios.

Zenoss's support forums are quite active and the resolution of issues (from past experiance) is hit or miss. Some questions I have never had a reply to while others I have had good involvment. Zenoss also has a IRQ ran by their support team that is very good when it comes to response and resolution. As the Zenoss community grows then the support forum will improve.

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by:QEMS
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Thanks to everyone who contributed.
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