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?