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Thor Myhrstad
CEO at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
MSP
Top 5
Helpful support, offers good visibility using a single pane of glass, and improved our monitoring accuracy

Pros and Cons

  • "The single-pane view provides us a view of all of our network infrastructure, and it is one of the most important tools that we use to see the status of our customers' networks."
  • "Improvements are needed in the area of cloud monitoring, as that's a newer feature."

What is our primary use case?

We use Centreon primarily for network monitoring. We monitor our customers' networks, including the internet connection and the switches, for temperature and general hardware status. For some of our larger customers, we use it to monitor servers as well, using the simple network management protocol (SNMP).

How has it helped my organization?

We see benefit from using this product all the time. For example, if there is a hard drive that's failed in a system then we get notified via Centreon. If there is some kind of environmental deviation, such as an air conditioning unit or something else that doesn't work, then we get environmental information like the temperature has changed.

We also get notifications if the internet goes down. Prior to COVID, there were lots of people in various offices and we need to know if they're all working and productive. 

This monitoring and notification system is something that happens constantly.

Centreon increases the accuracy of our monitoring, although accuracy is something that we consider to be a core feature. If the product generated alerts that you couldn't trust then it would be a cry-wolf scenario, effectively making it unusable. We would not use a product that was not accurate or didn't perform as expected, because that makes the whole product useless. Basically, if the monitor isn't accurate then there's zero value in the software.

What is most valuable?

The reports are definitely good, although, to us, the most important thing is that action is taken. When events and things happen, it's important that they're acted upon and dealt with, and that we're notified. Reporting is one of those things that can be used to show a customer that you're doing your job, but the most important thing for us is using it to do our job.

The single-pane view provides us a view of all of our network infrastructure, and it is one of the most important tools that we use to see the status of our customers' networks. Being the monitoring environment, it doesn't really do remediation, so it is not our only tool. We have three core applications that we use, and Centreon is one of those very important applications. If you're a carpenter you need a hammer, or if you're a doctor, you need a stethoscope. It's one of those core tools that, if you don't have it, it's hard to do your job.

The most important thing in any kind of monitoring system is that it's set up correctly. If this is the case, where all of the correct relationships and workflow are mapped out such that you will see only the most important details, then the single-pane view is very useful and it can save a massive amount of time.

It provides a nice benefit when it comes to helping align IT operations with business objectives. The top-down views, dashboards, and business context reporting are things that are nice to have because you want to be able to show the customer that everything is working, that problems have been addressed, and that you're providing value. The customer is the most happy when there are issues that you uncover and they're quickly addressed.

It has certainly reduced our mean time to resolution. This is because it is set up properly so that we can figure out what the issue is as quickly as possible. Reducing noise is very important and it also helps increase the accuracy of the alerts that we're receiving.

What needs improvement?

Improvements are needed in the area of cloud monitoring, as that's a newer feature.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Centreon for approximately 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

At the core, the systems are very stable. The only issues that we have run into are around updates. This is true with anything, including Microsoft updates. As this is an enterprise-grade solution, you probably don't want to be the first ones to apply the updates.

My advice is that you should have a conservative approach to when to apply updates. That said, we have active support, so we are always upgraded to the latest version.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is almost infinitely scalable. Almost everyone in the company works with it at some level. We have approximately 20 people in technical roles who use it, and the environment contains between 3,000 and 5,000 devices. This could be monitoring a single internet connection, up to monitoring thousands of systems.

In terms of versatility, Centreon came from a traditional monitoring system, so it is better with traditional infrastructure. However, they're building more cloud monitoring and it's something that they're working on. But its current strength is on the core network infrastructure components, as I see it.

Versatility is not something that is critical to our monitoring operation. For some of the cloud services, we can spin up instances and we can monitor that way. But, some of the cloud instances, depending on what it is, need to be dealt with in a different way. Often, the provider has solutions for that.

How are customer service and technical support?

We work with a dedicated technical support person who is fantastic, so our overall experience with them has been very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a solution in place previously that didn't have a single-pane view. It's hard to quantify, but having Centreon certainly makes it much more efficient, as you're able to go in and see the status of all your customers in one place immediately, in real-time, rather than having to log into a separate portal.

One of the things that we did previously was to develop plugins and tools in-house. This was something that was time-consuming and is no longer necessary. We switched because we didn't have to spend time on training, and it allowed us to focus more on our core mission.

How was the initial setup?

With any enterprise-grade monitoring system, the key thing is that you take the implementation seriously. You need to look at and understand what kind of architecture you want to set up and how you want it to be laid out for your customers. The initial process, like the initial setup process for any tool of this magnitude, will take some time if you want it to work really well. That initial time investment, however, is well worth it later on when you have the correct relationships set up and you have a reduction in false alerts, ultimately leading to a higher accuracy level for alerts.

If you're going to have success, it's very important that you take the time to set up parent-child relationships. You need to take the time to set up how the processes work for each customer because otherwise, you'll have a scenario like in Three Mile Island that had that nuclear disaster, where you get hundreds of alerts in a matter of one minute.

If it's set up correctly then it's super-useful. If a certain condition happens, you want to get an alert for the correct condition and not underlying alerts that are not useful. That's the most important thing. If it's set up correctly and you have the correct relationships and workflow all mapped out, then it's very valuable and it can save a massive amount of time. With Centreon, it's very important that you take that time to set up the parent-child relationships.

For us, it took several months to get it set up to be the way we wanted it. But, once it is in place, it is a solution that you can possibly use for decades to come.

What about the implementation team?

We used a collaborative approach between our in-house team and the vendor. We had certain requirements that were important to us and we discussed those with the Centreon team. At that point, we worked together on implementation and deployment.

What was our ROI?

Using Centreon has helped us to reduce costs, although it's hard for me to quantify. For example, we have saved time in that our in-house developers no longer have to create plugins and other tools that we used before implementing Centreon. Also, because of the faster resolution times and reduced noise for the alerts, it drives up productivity because we don't have engineers looking at alerts that aren't real.

Finally, Centreon is one of our core tools and if we didn't have it, we couldn't do our job effectively.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Looking at this product from a pricing perspective, you need to consider the differences between developing your own solution in-house and buying one. There is always going to be a certain amount of time that you have to spend to customize and get to know a tool, but the fact that you have access to the support is a really big plus because it makes it so that things are done in a more uniform way.

The pricing works out well for us, given our environment and where we are.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options, but one of the reasons that we chose Centreon is because it came out of an open-source environment, and that is something that we really liked. We do have open-source capabilities in our organization, which helped with the transition, making it easier and smoother for us.

What other advice do I have?

On the network side, it's one of the most important tools that we use to see the status of our customers' network infrastructure. With that in mind, if you don't set it up correctly then you don't get any of the benefits. My advice for anybody who is implementing this product is that they need to be ready to think through the architecture properly, then be willing to devote the proper internal resources to the implementation. This is true especially for the dependencies of hosts and services and setting them up correctly because that is absolutely critical in reducing false positives.

We look at Centreon as a partner and we work in partnership with their support because to create the most successful implementation, it's important that it's a two-way street. It takes input from you as the customer, and input and help from Centreon. To have it work in the most efficient and best way, parties need to be able to devote time and resources to set it up correctly. But then once you've done that, you are able to get the rewards, with faster resolution times, reduced noise for the alerts, and that drives up productivity because then you don't have engineers looking at alerts that aren't real.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Thomas Curutchet
Managing Director, CANADA at eva
Reseller
Top 5
Gives us the flexibility we need through scripting and provides customizable, real-time dashboards

Pros and Cons

  • "The customizable reports and dashboards are really flexible. We started this partnership with Centreon, when we were looking for a solution, because of the flexibility of the reporting. That's what we found to be most attractive in the solution. You can display the data as you want."
  • "During the initial setup we faced some issues. Part of it was because we had to become more knowledgeable in the solution. There are some gray areas and if you don't know the product well you may have issues. Another part of it was some bugs that we came across, although that's part of every software solution in IT nowadays. But the initial setup could be easier."

What is our primary use case?

We are a provider of the Centreon solution and a reseller as well. We also use it internally to monitor our offices around the world.

We also have a NOC for our customers hosted in Azure and AWS.  We provide Centreon EMS as a SaaS solution to monitor the infrastructure (or applications) of our customers. 

As a reseller/integrator of Centreon, we deploy it on premise for our customers as well.

How has it helped my organization?

We try to provide a 360-degree view of the infrastructures. In that context, the feature we most benefit from is the dashboards. We build specific dashboards using the integrated tool called Centreon MAP. It allows you to draw your network for a site or to draw an application and how it works with all the components, as if you were drawing in Microsoft Visio. The diagram is dynamic and, underneath the it, you can put metrics and data that is directly pulled from every infrastructure or application components.

In terms of Centreon's versatility for connecting to any system, as long as the device has an IP, it's fairly easy to interconnect with anything. You can perform basic monitoring, or you can look for more specific KPIs on any kind of equipment by using a combination of SNMP, API and scripts. For our NOC operations, we easily deploy a poller in our customer's environment that securely connects to our central servers. Making it really easy to add new customers to our NOC.

In addition, it increases the accuracy of our monitoring. When looking at the availability of an asset, what matters from a business perspective is what is the real value. For example, if we're monitoring a retail store and there is an outage during the night, since the store is closed it doesn't matter if the systems there aren't working during the night. With Centreon, you have the ability to track the availability for specific time slots. That's one of the features that we use a lot. We are able to say that during business hours everything went fine.

Once you're familiar with how Centreon works, it is way easier than any other solutions. You are able to cut out all the unnecessary notifications that you can get and only stick with the essential ones. In this way, you don't miss any important alerts. And because we are able to track a lot of data, and not only availability, we're able to find the root cause of an issue much faster than with another solution. Once everything is set up correctly, it reduces our MTTR by 50 percent.

There are a lot of free tools on the market, and they work. But once you have some specific requirements, especially for reporting and dashboarding, you need a complete enterprise grade solution. It's the category that Centreon is in, and it can save you 20 percent on operation costs. Once you know how to use the solution, you can reuse the scripts and everything you've been deploying, so when you want to add new equipment, new hosts, it's really easy and faster compared to other solutions.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the solution is the flexibility, the ability to integrate all kinds of equipment. As long as something has an IP you can monitor it. What we try to achieve all the time is not only saying a company's system is available, but to give additional data on the performance of the equipment. So the flexibility is what matters the most to us, where we can script everything. Centreon has a lot of Plugin Packs, meaning they support, by design, a lot of devices. And on top of that, we have the ability to add our own scripts and do whatever we want and display the data as we want in the central dashboards.

The customizable reports and dashboards are really flexible. We started this partnership with Centreon, when we were looking for a solution, because of the flexibility of the reporting. That's what we found to be most attractive in the solution. You can display the data as you want. It's a bit tricky at first to understand how it works, how the data is organized, but once you go through the learning curve, the tool is really powerful.

Also, because we are able to segregate the data within Centreon, by customer, using the dashboards, we are able to see all our customers in one place, and bring all the relevant information to us directly.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the basic reporting. They provide reporting in PDF files but you cannot modify these PDFs much at the beginning. It would help if they would simplify the modification of reporting, when starting. A lot of solutions in the market have this issue.

For how long have I used the solution?

We used to use it when it was an open source solution and, more recently, about a year and a half ago, we started using the EMS solution, the enterprise version.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's really stable. It's been working for a year and a half and we haven't had any issue with it. No downtime on the platform. We were able to upgrade, again with no downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's really scalable because you can spread the roles of Centreon across different servers and you can add servers when you grow your infrastructure.

Right now we have 1,000 hosts, and the other deployments we do are around 500 to 2,500 hosts, usually.

How are customer service and technical support?

Centreon's support is good. When we have an urgent matter, we speak directly to the Centreon team and bypass support. We speak to the engineer who validated our infrastructure. He answers all of our questions.

How was the initial setup?

During the initial setup we faced some issues. Part of it was because we had to become more knowledgeable in the solution. There are some gray areas and if you don't know the product well you may have issues. Another part of it was some bugs that we came across, although that's part of every software solution in IT nowadays. But the initial setup could be easier.

Our deployment took 10 days, but because our customers want specific dashboards and specific KPIs, we worked on that also.

The goal was to properly size the infrastructure to make sure we have room to grow. We wanted to make sure we have best practices in place for future deployments. If today we have 1,000 hosts and tomorrow we have 5,000, can we grow easily or do we need to redo everything? We also worked on how to structure the data. What kind of data do we want to pull from the hosts? And once everything was set up, how would we display this data? We also wanted to make sure we reduced the false positive alarms as much as we could.

We have five or six people who work with the solution. We have some developers who are working on scripting. We have non-technical people who are more focused on building reporting, and when they have a question or something doesn't work, they ask a monitoring expert to interpret the data. And we also have our customers who have the read-only view of Centreon and the dashboards where they can see the real-time data.

There is no maintenance of the solution on our side, other than adding new hosts or updating, when required.

What about the implementation team?

We had one day with a Centreon consultant who helped us on the design part, to make sure we were starting off on the right foot, and at the end to help verify that our deployment was correct. He did a really good job and was really knowledgeable.

What was our ROI?

We've seen ROI because we're able to monitor new customers more easily and with less work. We're able to reuse the work we did to deploy new hosts. That is a gain for us. And our customers are happy with the reports and the data we provide to auditing.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Their licensing model is really easy. You have one license and you have access to all the features, compared to other tools where you have to purchase add-ons. And since you can track anything in this tool, it's easy to integrate new hosts. It's fairly easy to replace older versions of other monitoring tools and you can save a lot.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Because we are a consulting company, we usually work for large organizations, such as banks, industry and retail companies. We have a deep knowledge of monitoring tools such as SolarWinds or HPE. We have extensive knowledge of what's on the market and, knowing that, that's why we chose Centreon.

The advantages of Centreon are its flexibility and that the licensing is pretty easy compared to other solutions.

Where Centreon is weaker is that the initial deployment could be easier. It's based on the open source solution, so if you are not from the open source world, and you're not good at Linux, that could be a barrier. But for people who are familiar with Linux this would be a pro. I'm not from the Linux world so for me it is a con.

What other advice do I have?

Because Centreon is from the open source world, you need to have some skills at first to be able to master the solution and to deploy it properly. What we frequently see with our customers is that they purchase an expensive solution but they don't take the time to configure it properly. They might be using the solution at 20 percent of its capacity. The same thing can happen with Centreon. That's why you need skills, at first, to deploy it. But after that, it's pretty easy to maintain on a daily basis.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Centreon Provider/Reseller
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