I managed a web design and hosting company several years ago. When we began to experience the first of many growth spurts, we were adding servers to our infrastructure at a rate of one to three servers per quarter. Knowing the details about what was happening on all of those servers, as well as the applications and infrastructure in general, quickly became my primary concern and responsibility.
I consulted with the Datacenter staff and other hosting professionals regarding server monitoring, and the application most recommended was Nagios. But along with the recommendation, came the warnings that Nagios might be a pain in the ass to setup and maintain. Back then, when Nagios was in its infancy, the warnings were quite appropriate! But the flexibility that it offered and the intelligence that it returned made editing the countless configuration files well worth it! Today there are many books and videos that explain Nagios' installation and configuration in detail, and self-paced training is available by subscription for only $200 per year.
Nagios streamlines the overall monitoring of Ping, Power and Pipe, while paying specific attention to areas like: CPU, Memory, Disks, SNMP Service, Network Switches, Routers, Firewalls, Services, DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, Exchange Services, HTTP Status, FTP Status, OpenManage Status, Total Running Processes, Programs running on servers and other host resources and application states.
The system can be extended with customized host and service checks. It includes e-mail, pager, and other notification features, and a web interface streamlines access to network status, problem history, and log information.
Nagios is a Linux platform product. Nagios Enterprise also provides clients with open source Nagios development, customization, integration, and optimization services. Originally created under the name NetSaint, the Nagios application was written and is currently maintained by Ethan Galstad, along with a group of developers actively maintaining both official and unofficial plugins.
Nagios Key Strengths
We live in a “plug & play” world where people expect instant results. Nagios is not a “plug & play” application. Every Data Center is different. We have volumes of “Best Practices” to guide us in the design and management of our facilities. The shear diversity of devices and applications that make up our ever changing Infrastructure requires an application with a great deal of flexibility if it is to succeed at monitoring and reporting on the status of everything in our environments.
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” Nagios is not difficult to install. It is not difficult to configure. It is not difficult to maintain. The key to deploying a successful Nagios installation is planning. Deploying Nagios is not a one person task, but a project requiring the involvement of one or more departments within your organization.
You need to have a thorough understanding of your Infrastructure:
Deploying an Enterprise Monitoring System is a complex project. Your choice to use Nagios, or Nagios-based applications, versus applications like Zenoss, Zabbix, OpenNMS, Cacti, Ganglia or Munin should be based on how well each is able to meet all of your requirements, rather than how easy it is to deploy.
Other considerations should be:
Clearly, there is a lot of consideration and planning involved before reaching a decision regarding your best choice for Enterprise Monitoring. Choosing such a critical component for your Infrastructure shouldn't be easy, like Senate confirmation hearings shouldn't be easy. We all want the right man for the job, and we'll ask thousands of questions and leave no stone unturned in our investigations. Nagios is not easy. In most cases however, it is the best tool-set for the job.
Nagios is a great application as it stands for Enterprise Monitoring, and there are several companies that have built their own applications using Nagios at the core. Their products add to an already extensive feature set, while maintaining compatibility with existing Nagios plug-ins. One such company is Opsview. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, with offices in the USA and India, their flagship product smooths out the complexities of deploying Nagios. Opsview is used globally by many enterprise customers including blue chip organizations such as Comcast, BT Plusnet, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Siemens, Allianz, US Army, Irish Revenue and Yale University to name just a few.
All things considered. You should give Nagios and Opsview your full attention. Other companies are, and perhaps one or more of them are amongst your competition, and they couldn't possibly be any smarter than you. Could they?