Recommendations for Windows performance monitoring and alarms

Hi folks,

I have two Windows servers, an SBS 2003 and an AWS/EC2 2008R2.
I would like to set up some monitoring that will raise an alarm (send an email) if certain criteria are met. For example, CPU usage sits at 100% for more than a couple of minutes or disk space on nominated volumes falls below certain thresholds, etc.

Would the gallery please make recommendations? Open source / freeware by preference of course :)

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BobintheNocConnect With a Mentor Commented:
From personal experience, I've not found a great open source tool that runs on a windows box.  Look for Cacti, I've heard good things about it, but never tried myself.

I have used Servers Alive--which used to be free and may still be in small environments.  But otherwise, it's a pretty flexible product, but needs lots of configuration, and at a few hundred dollars, well worth it.  You can perform a query then execute a bat/script on the results.  Simple ping checks, service checks, port checks, etc.  A little sluggish when you have hundreds or thousands of objects to monitor.  This tool gets my vote for low cost/no cost, and super flexible, although not the most elegant of interfaces, not too hot on charts and wow factor.  

Moving up to Solarwinds--very attractive package for stats collections and up/down checks.  All snmp based, so no WMI or ADSI.  Great looking, very impressive and works pretty well right out of box.  There are tons of add-ons, but they're all usually FEE based.  So, you can do MORE than just SNMP based monitoring, if you add-on w/Solarwinds.

IPSwitches Whatsup Gold, another commercial product.  It's not as flashy looking as Solarwinds, but has a bunch of core capability included with it's pricetag.  Port monitoring, SNMP, WMI, etc.,  Pretty much anything you can think of CAN be done with WhatsupGold.  It takes more to set it up than say, Solarwinds.  But has great potential if you're willing to work with it.  You can associate scripts and commands to a polling sequence, pretty easily.  Example:  If server is UP (responds to ping), but website on port 80 isn't returning the value it should when you GET a page, then RESTART the WWW Publishing service.  If WWW doesn't respond properly after the restart, perform an IISRESET, and if still not, reboot the server.  This isn't a built in example, but is very possible.

Level Platforms product offering (at least in what I've worked with them on) charges on a per server/per site license model.  If you are an MSP, offering monitoring services, it's OK, and is fairly low in startup costs.  But as you expand, and pick up a ton of clients, the costs can get outrageous.

BMC Patrol Express--super classy and flashy, and a great set of tools, similar to Solarwinds.  Very pricey though.

ManageEngine--a relatively newcomer to an integrated monitoring workspace.  I've recently played with their Netflow analyzer pieces, but they've also got full systems monitoring.  Support is very good.
madunixConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I use Cacti , MRTG and Nagios (Linux based open source software), to monitor network services and servers, average time,  up-time, availability for free or any services goes down, for more info about cacti 

Check also my list of other software GroundWork Monitor Enterprise Hyperic HQ Icinga Nagios N-central op5 Monitor openITCockpit OpenNMS HP OpenView BMC PATROL ProactiveNet Performance Management Shinken IBM Tivoli CA Unicenter WhatsUp Gold Zabbix Zenoss Enterprise Opmanager solarwinds netcrunch

Greg HejlConnect With a Mentor Principal ConsultantCommented:
Prtg @

the Dude -

sroddenAuthor Commented:
Thanks very much for the suggestions, folks! I'll be checking them out soon.
I'll split points as I expect that all the answers will have some value for me.
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