Pandora FMS Review

Super stable, very flexible, feature-rich, competitive price, and does the job

What is our primary use case?

We use its latest version to monitor all our Windows and Linux servers.

How has it helped my organization?

This product has been really good for us. We took a chance with this open-source product with an enterprise offering. It has been very effective for what we monitor; servers, networking switches, fiber channel switches, web apps, etc...

What is most valuable?

It is easy to create your own custom modules if you just know a bit of scripting. If you have unique requirements, you can just make your own modules. 

You can also use checks from other vendors. There are open-source checks for hundreds of metrics. There is a long list of different ones from Nagios. You can just use them, and within seconds, you get yourself a check that is monitoring whatever you need. It is really flexible. I guess that's why they call it Pandora Flexible Monitoring System (FMS).

It is reliable. It does the job, and it alerts. It is also surprisingly feature-rich. Our network guy just recently asked about a particular protocol to monitor the bandwidth on the network, which is not a common protocol. When I looked it up, and I found that they cover it. It seems mature for a not-so-known product.

What needs improvement?

Their support is good, but it is just online communication. It would be great to be able to just call someone and talk to them instead of always writing. It works well for if you're a decent communicator in email, but some people might find it difficult to describe in a written fashion and communicate with them that way. 

There is a learning curve to the interface, but once you get used to it, it works well. They've made changes so it is getting better. They can refine the upgrade of agents to be easier. They can also do more refinement in end-user usability because not everyone is strong technically, and people who aren't strong technically might be averse to the product, even though it has come a long way.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for five to ten years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is where they shine. It has been super stable. We have high-end monitoring for our data centers. We monitor all kinds of metrics in our two data centers. We monitor maybe over 2,500 checks, and the product that has been successful and always alerting us is Pandora. Even though we have other products that are supposed to give us proper alerting for temperature sensors in the data center, it is Pandora that sends the alerts.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is fine for us so far. It probably scales well. We have almost 350 agents with about 2600 checks running on one server, and it is still running fine. I don't know when we'll reach a point where we need to expand.

They definitely have the ability to have multiple servers and redundancy. We're looking at setting up a second one so that one is running in our second data center.

It is mostly used by our IT back-office team. We are the ones most interested in its alerts. For some check we have our Maintenance & Facilities staff alerted like temperature sensors in the data centers. You can just find the OID for temperature sensors on your network switches to get those metric in addition to pointing directly to the CRAC units for even more data (humidity, ...)

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is good. It is just online communication. I don't know if I've ever had a remote session with them. They're Spanish, so there might be a language barrier, but their English is still very strong. I have opened cases with them, and they're very good.

I would rate them a ten out of ten for their willingness to help and for their knowledge. The gap really is the lack of phone contact. For that, I would rate them an eight out of ten.

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

We tried a few different products at the time. We had a quick look at Nagios, which was config-based as opposed to a database. Pandora FMS seemed to offer the easiest way to monitor. 

The other products were on a smaller scale. We had some products that just dropped an agent and sent you an email straight from that server but nothing central.

How was the initial setup?

It used to be complex, but I just upgraded it, and it is pretty good. I used their CentOS ISO for deployment and built the server directly with what they provide. I find it much easier. You should be comfortable with Linux.

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

They are very competitive on the pricing side. That's one reason why my manager keeps using it.

What other advice do I have?

You should definitely look at it. It is good so far, and it does the job for a mid-size organization like ours.

I would rate Pandora FMS a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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