PRTG Network Monitor Review

A useful kit to summarize the health of our infrastructure


What is our primary use case?

We use it to monitor our critical infrastructure, i.e., the services our users depend on. It is very useful for us to have that holistic view, e.g, one single view of the dashboards. The product is a useful kit to summarize the health of our infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

It has made us more proactive. Instead of waiting for the users to report failures to us, we can very quickly see things on a nice, easy dashboard and respond to it quickly enough. Then, hopefully, we can avoid having an issue experienced by the end user. 

We can use the data which comes out of PRTG to look at capacity and plan to grow particular areas of the business. It provides statistics about application or service, monitoring both of endpoints of that service. Therefore, we can look at the middle, and say, "How many people are actually using this?" We use the traffic statistics and other things from PRTG to help us predict growth and more.

What is most valuable?

The dashboarding is simple to use. We have one of the full dashboards, which is shaped like a donut. We call it the donut doom. If we ever see red on the donut doom, we know we need to respond quickly. It's a good, solid dashboard, which is really good for us.

There is a simplicity to setting up the extra sensors. It's really easy for us to build infrastructure and start monitoring very quickly.

The sensors are very simple to use and quick to deploy. I love once the credentials are added at the higher level that we can simply ignore the credential side of things and not to worry about them. You put them in at the top, then they filter down through to all of the various platforms.

We use the remote probes a lot for our branch offices. Instead of deploying the full instance of PRTG, we'll put a remote probe out there. This simplifies the whole deployment for us.

We use a lot of NetFlow sensors for our network equipment. Those NetFlow sensors help us to determine how much of our pipe is being used for particular applications. We use this quite a lot.

The feature set is brilliant. It does everything that we need it to do. If it doesn't, then there is a nice forum that we can jump on. 

What needs improvement?

We would like more cloud native sensors for AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc. A lot of businesses are moving in that direction, so having something where we can pull performance stats out of these cloud services would be great for us.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've never had to play around too much with stability. We installed it on the server, put the certificate in, got our URL, and put the DNS record in, then it just does its thing. 

Once you start going above 5000 sensors, things do start to get a bit shaky. There are some best practice out there that you will need to adopt and be aware of.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

PRTG has a clustering service, which is useful. We have had a bit of an issue with the WMI at one point where we just had too many WMI queries, but when we just swapped them to different sensor types, it become more efficient. This is not really a negative on scalability as much as ensuring to follow best practices.

The solution can grow with our business. If we need to expand the number of sensors that we are using or expand the number of remote offices that we have, we set up the remote probes with standard templates for sensors or services, and it works.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support has been fine. I haven't had any issues with the tech support at all. They tend to say, "You need to read this part of the manual." 

Generally, it's not the solution or the products in the role area. It's normally the way it's being deployed, the way it's being used, or if you're vastly oversubscribing certain areas of the system. It's just about knowing and being familiar with the system, then you don't have to really talk to tech support.

Nine times out of ten, someone else will have already asked the same question on the PRTG forum as us. 

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We implemented the free solution in this company, but it is what I was familiar with. I have used the solution in previous companies before. We did have another monitoring solution, but the speed in which we could get the solution running and my familiarity with it was really helpful.

It was also very easy to take my colleagues through it in the new company in which I was joining. Everyone was quickly on board with it, and we used it as an extra in-depth monitoring on top of our other monitoring stuff.

We experienced network and system downtime before implementing this solution. It was a driving factor in the decision to implement this solution. We had a lot of issues with disk space utilization. We are a quite big company, so we have a lot of people with a lot of files flowing around. We needed an extra level of monitoring on our disks and services.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was great and straightforward. Deployment was quick and painless. It just worked out-of-the-box. We were quite surprised that we really didn't have to do much tweaking for it.

Once the services started running, It immediately (within an hour) started monitoring the probe health first. Therefore, we received immediate feedback about the infrastructure that is supporting the service. 

What about the implementation team?

We did everything in-house.

What was our ROI?

We pay nothing for it. Its 100 sensors have allowed us to put a magnifying glass on some systems, providing an extra layer of detail. Therefore, our outgoing is nothing and our incoming is a lot of useful data that we can react to proactively.

This solution has enabled our IT department to be more cost-effective. We can predict a lot of failures and schedule work a lot more effectively. This means we don't need as many people. When you don't know what's going on under the hood, you're always expecting things to go wrong. Then, you have extra staff around to make sure if things do go wrong, you can fix them quickly. 

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

In my company now, we are using the free version. 

In previous companies, we have had unlimited licenses and going beyond 10,000 sensors with 50 different branch offices.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Primarily, we use PRTG because I am familiar with it. We have licenses for SCOM, but the complexity in setting up that type of solution put us off. It is very much a big beast of a solution. We needed something quick and simple that we could just throw in and get some good figures out of it quickly.

What other advice do I have?

Take a couple of hours in an afternoon and deploy the free version. See what type of sensors are out there, then give it a go. You will find very quickly that it's quite a simple system to use. It doesn't take a lot of time or expertise to set it up and get some good data out of it.

We haven't really used the desktop app. We normally use the central server, then we have the monitoring setup in such a way that we don't need to deploy any extra elements. It just monitors things via the SNMP or WMI. We tend to use the web browser a lot. 

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