OP5 Monitor Review

Implements automated tests of all the things you are responsible for as an IT operations manager

What is our primary use case?

Most of our clients are IT operation departments in larger organizations. They use OP5 Monitor to get an understanding of what's going on in their IT infrastructure: everything from network and server infrastructure to applications and specific metrics inside applications. It's mostly operational stuff.

For a standard IT department the types of applications they monitor would include, infrastructure-wise, everything from the network, service virtualization environment, VMware, cloud, and everything that runs on top of that, like databases, web servers, financial systems, payroll systems, and internally developed systems.

We have hospitals who use it for systems where they keep track of ambulances. We have a cruise line as a customer that uses it on systems that keep track of the IT services onboard cruise ships. It could be used on cooling containers, temperature and environmental monitoring, redundant power, uninterruptible power supplies with diesel generators. Everything from smaller workshops to nuclear power plants are running the system. It's used by a very wide scope of clients.

The reason why a system like this exists and is needed in an IT operations department is to automate the process of getting to know if stuff is working or not. If you don't have this, you will have to physically inspect your servers; log onto everything and check what's going on, and you will have to do that frequently. If you do that manually, it's not going to work. And it's not going to be done with good enough quality. This monitoring system is a way to implement automated tests of all your responsibilities as an IT operations manager.

How has it helped my organization?

Instead of checking the logs each Monday, or checking that applications are running, and checking your ticketing system for angry users, you put this system in place and it monitors and continuously tests everything that is of importance to you and your users. It could be everything from monitoring disk space to CPU usage to memory. It could include determining if the response time in your e-commerce platform is quick enough, or whether you have too many bounces from some of the pages on your website. You want to monitor anything that could cost you money or time or resources. You can do that with this system. It's very flexible.

In our company we have over the last two years helped some 60 different clients using this tool. For example, we are working with the largest employer in Sweden. The company takes care of all the hospital, school, and municipal infrastructure in the Gothenburg region. They monitor their whole network infrastructure using OP5 Monitor. They have about 4,500 switches and routers. If something goes down there, it's critical stuff: hospital equipment, etc. I don't know how many outages they have detected and fixed, but I imagine they have been able to stop a few outages before they became to large of an issue.

What is most valuable?

What Monitor does is that it lets administrators of these different applications get insights into how their environments are performing. Is it working? Is it not working? Do we have some issues that we need to fix now? It tells them what's going on.

What needs improvement?

The web-based UI is functional. It's in need of an update. There is a large, ongoing project to release a redesigned web interface, to which we are providing feedback. That's going to be really exciting. OP5 has always been web-first. There are no clients to install. It's always just a web interface.

There are a couple of things in need of improvement that are major. Some of them are on track. IT environments today are in constant flux. This is driven by the newer cloud technologies such as Kubernetes and Docker, etc. The whole Nagios-based monitoring system that OP5 is created on top of, is based on a host-service model. There is a need for a strategy on what to do with more dynamic environments. I know that is a fluffy description, but that's one key thing. There is some cool stuff going on in that direction. We, as a partner, are helping a couple of clients integrate with cloud environments, which is really cool.

Right now, we're focusing a lot on automating the configuration of monitoring systems. That's something that needs improved APIs. 

Finally, it needs a unified, central way to manage and configure agents. That would be a key feature.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using OP5 since the start of the company in 2003. I was one of the first employees.

How are customer service and technical support?

ITRS technical support is quite good. From the start, there has always been a focus on having really skilled people in support. That's something ITRS should be proud of and continue to invest in.

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

If we go back 15 years, in that time span our clients have not used a different monitoring solution. Today, everyone has some kind of monitoring system. And if they don't, they've been living under a rock, or it's a new company.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward. It does take some prior knowledge. You need to be an IT admin person to get it. But if you look at a normal installation on an IT infrastructure with up to, say, 1,000 servers, that is usually managed in under a week. That says something about the ease of implementation.

In terms of an implementation strategy, we have a template that we follow to save time and deliver an efficient setup. We're consultants, so we always try to anticipate questions and make it as easy as possible for the clients. So it makes sense for us to reuse the knowledge we have gained from other implementations.

It's quite well documented with the documentation available online, which is nice. The initial implementation is the smaller part. When you want to add functionality, such as implementing a new application or some new piece of hardware or software, there is a lot of material available online from ITRS on how to do that. That's good.

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

We don't sell the licenses, generally. We sell our time to help improve the way our clients are using the product. But if someone were to  ask me about price, I would say that OP5 has a very low price as a solution, compared to many other solutions out there.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure that you have a good relationship with ITRS or a partner that can support you in the process.

Most of the clients that I work with have been our clients for many years. The reason they are using ITRS is that it's something that works for them. They invested a lot of time and effort into learning the tool, adopting it to their needs, and making sure that it's working well for them. I also think they value the local contact, that they have someone to talk to; a vendor that actually supports them in their endeavors.

Stuff happens. It doesn't matter if you run a small IT department or a large one, or if you just buy IT services from an external company, stuff never works 100 percent. When it stops working, it's important that you know so that you can take action, tell your customers, start taking preventive actions, and try to fix the problem. That's what this tool provides you: knowledge about whether things are working or not. If you don't have something like this, what's going to happen is that people are going to get upset and, sooner or later, someone will be so upset that they pick up the phone and call you. And you will have another 60 people who are upset, but who haven't called you because they're busy with other things. This is something you need to have, to stay on top.

**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: Partner.
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