Zabbix Review

Chose Zabbix over Nagios but wouldn’t suggest an in-house Zabbix implementation without a technical staff

What is most valuable?

Open Source: All the sources for all the products are Open Source, so you can use a complete product from the start. There are no "premium" features with additional cost.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives you visibility over your infrastructure, so you are able to know the health of your services and it's dependencies every moment (and even to react automatically to problems). For example, in one organization I worked for, before Zabbix the problems were normally reported by the clients using the call center, so the Operations team was always working against the clock and with high levels of stress; after a successful implementation of Zabbix, putting the right monitors in place and a period of stabilization, the Operations team had the information to prevent the problems before the clients were affected. This resulted in a Operations team with lower levels of stress, more time to work on important projects and client satisfaction by lowering the number of problems visible by the client.

What needs improvement?

The low discovery functionality is still very young so this feature has a lot of room for improvement. The graphics generated by the system can be improved and also the web interface. At this point in time it's possible to archive a good level of security by using external tools, but it would be nice if this level of security could be archived out of the box.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution since version 1.4 which was around 2008, so I've been using the product for six years now.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Having the right knowledge, the installation and implementation of Zabbix it's very simple, even the principal Linux distributions already have a Zabbix version in their repositories. A successful implementations requires the knowledge of what it's necessary to monitor and the way to do it, but this is true for all monitoring products.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, the software is very stable as well as the the components it depends on (in my case Linux, Apache, MySQL).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, Zabbix is very scalable and well programmed, also gives you elements to identify when the performance could be a problem and can be configured in a very granulated way. Also, the principal components can be separated and gives you options to distribute the monitoring (archiving horizontal scaling).

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

I don't have first hand experience with the Zabbix SIA support, but the support the community provides it's great.

Technical Support:

Based on the information I can see in the Zabbix forums and social networks I would say Zabbix SIA have engineers with an excellent technical level.

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

Yes, the principal reasons to switch to Zabbix were: Flexibility (Zabbix allowed the monitoring of something the other product does not), cost (no license costs, it was possible to monitor something with no extra costs, the hardware necessary for Zabbix was much lower) and in the tests Zabbix outperformed the other products evaluated.

How was the initial setup?

The first time I installed the product (back in 2008) my initial impression was the software was complex to install, basically because at that time the repositories of my Linux distribution had an old version of the software and I wanted the most recent so I installed the software by compiling the sources; but once you understand, document and become familiar with the process it's pretty easy. Also, at the beginning understand the philosophy behind Zabbix was a little complicated but equally once you have the knowledge it all become easy and natural. Another aspect you can consider complex in Zabbix it's the lack of detail in some templates, so if you only use the out of the box templates (without changes) you ended up with a basic monitoring, most of the time you will need to extend the template to adjust it to your specific needs and obviously this will require knowledge of several aspects (this can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage).

What about the implementation team?

I've been responsible for about 4 Zabbix implementations and always was in-house job.

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

In this case, again, I don't have numbers. In the last implementation, the original cost was only the cost of the hardware plus the salary of the sysadmin responsible of the system, the day to day cost it's only the salary of the sysadmin. No fees for licenses and no fees for support at this time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes. Nagios: This product it's the de-facto for open source network monitoring. System Center Operations Manager: The monitoring solution of Microsoft.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is that its good to have a clear understanding of the goals you are looking to fulfill with the monitoring system, the objectives must be clear, also the environment in which the system will be implemented and the capacities (hardware, people, time, etc). There are a lot of aspects to take into consideration when choosing and implementing a monitoring system so invest as much time as possible in planning carefully. Zabbix is a great product, with great flexibility and I'm sure can be adequate to most of the situations, but maybe it's not the best choice in some scenarios, so plan carefully before choosing and implementing any product. For example, I would not suggest an in-house Zabbix implementation to a company without technical staff.

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