Nagios Core Review

It works. What more did you want?


What is most valuable?

It has been a reliable source of information regarding the state of the servers within the organisation and the flexibility of some of the features including the command structure has been invaluable in tracking some recurring faults.

How has it helped my organization?

A good example more recently is where the DHCP/DNS servers kept dropping their scopes, making it difficult for users whose machines were releasing. I managed to come up with a modification to a script that could be inserted into the Nagios client (NSClient++) and checked so that an alert could be generated if the scopes were dropped to allow the administrators to immediately remedy the fault in the short term. By retaining some of the information they could also check for trending as part of their fault finding process for a longer term fix.

What needs improvement?

Some of the reporting functionality is a bit basic and configuration is a chore although by the use of NagiosQL this can be made a lot easier.

For how long have I used the solution?

5-6 years

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Beyond the usual learning curve when adopting a new package, not really, though I did need to brush up on some Linux skills including Apache so that the web interface could be seen.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

None. Under Linux, Nagios is pretty stable to the point that it could stay in place and active longer than most of the servers it monitored. Since the system can self test its configuration, it is normally impossible to start Nagios with a fault present.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Can't comment on this as Nagios Core is supplied without support.

Technical Support:

This is one down side to Nagios Core as it is supplied without support (Nagios XI can be obtained for a price which includes support). There are some support boards, however, that are an invaluable source of help which I have both used and contributed to.

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

The outgoing system ws Network Eagle which was good at monitoring but not very good at presenting its results. Nagios was certainly a step up as we had previously needed to use a Visual Basic add on to display results which was limited to little more than a ping test display.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup involved making sure that you knew what you were monitoring, where, what and how. Once this was done it was then possible to complete a default template which could be used to set up a server. As ever, the main effort in the beginning (once the product was selected) was in designing the layout. The actual setup was somewhat laborious (as I had not yet set up NagiosQL) and repetitive but once done, the housekeeping was minimal.

What about the implementation team?

This was all completed in-house.

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

The only actual cost was the cost of a set of feet for the display unit that was used in the service desk area. Everything else was either end of life machinery (i.e. the server) or freeware/gnuware (openSUSE Linux, the packages themselves). There is no day-to-day cost other than the usual running cost of the server.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

OpsManager

Zabbix

What other advice do I have?

Nagios Core is a great solution for monitoring pretty much any size of deployment but you do need to know your way around a Linux system to set it up and run it. The skills you need include knowing the Apache setup on your chosen distro, configuring and compiling GCC tarballs and some idea about configuration syntax. Adding NagiosQL makes it simpler but that also needs some fettling to get it to work reliably. It also helps to be good with Windows administration though chances are that if you are looking at this sort of thing, you may be aware of that. Nagios does not detect systems out of the box and while it can be made to use WMI, it tends to be better working with the NSClient++ service on Windows which can be made to work much like the NRPE service which does the same duties under Linux and Unix.


Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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Vendor

Great share.

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Vendor

Thanks Chris for this valuable post.