If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Centreon, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
My advice would be don't do it by yourself. While it's very easy to implement it, and it's free, contact the company and take advantage of their experience to have a perfectly designed solution. In this area of IT, the more precise you are, the better the solution. In monitoring, if you have too many options it's useless. You have to be very precise when you implement the solution. So, go with Centreon. It's more efficient than doing it by yourself. It's not fancy, it's not glamorous, but it's a good workhorse. It's very pragmatic and it's very easy to use. It provides global information about the network and the servers. It's not the fanciest product, but it's good. We are directly in contact with the company. We communicate with them so that we can deploy a solution with them. We share a lot of experiences between our two companies. They meet all our needs and all the features we want them to implement. We have a lot of meetings between us to change the product and to go for innovation inside Centreon. We have everything we need with the product. I would rate the solution at nine out of ten. Ten is never possible. Products always need improvement because there are new features on the IT market. The evolution of the product can happen with AI. The key to this product is the people inside Centreon. A product is a product. It can be changed. It can evolve. But the relationship with Centreon is the most important factor.
Centreon is definitely not a perfect or bug-free solution on the market. On the other hand, which solution is that. They have a great support that you can count on, along with continuous improvement, which is very important for any customer when getting help in a support case. The most part, Centreon is open source, free, and available to everyone. So, if you phone back you can submit an issue to the GitHub repository or source it directly for help to other users. If you want to set it up, you can do it easily. If you have some problems, you can also take a look at the publicly available documentation from Centreon. No matter which solution you use, you should be aware that every solution needs time to invest for a good, pure result. For Centreon, and also in other monitoring systems, you have to spend time with it because monitoring is a permanent process, which should be improved daily, but you should focus on the important things. We use Centreon a lot, but we could use it a bit more in the future, because Centreon is nice in a way that it is not just monitoring. You can also make the documentation of your network topology without any additional work. If you take care of your monitoring, you have automatically created a topology of your network, so now you have documentation of it. This is also a time saver. I am splitting my rating into two parts. Centreon is an open source, available product. I would rate it with a nine (out of ten). For the license costs, I would give it a seven (out of ten) because that is something they need to improve, so the customer could better plan their investment in the future. This is information that we have received from our customers as feedback. They are really satisfied with the solution, but not 100 percent satisfied with the licensing model, even though this has been improved a little in the past. So, my overall rating is an eight (out of ten).
Take what you have and challenge it. If you're using another system and you decide to move to Centreon, even if your system is similar, don't put your junk on Centreon or any other tool. Go through your processes, go through the system, see what the system is good at, see what it's not so good at, and try to use plug-ins and best practices. Make sure you do an in-house cleaning first. Don't just dump everything on another system and expect it to work. We've trained a lot of people on Centreon. It was very easy for everyone. It wasn't something that someone specific had to get used to. When we were looking for different solutions - because we ran out of the support for Centreon - we tested Centreon against a few other solutions, and then we understood the advantage of Centreon, especially the GUI. We already have a system, ServiceNow that does a lot of the reports and consolidates a lot of the incidents for us. We have to do it in one system and we chose that specific system because a lot of other components are relying on it. But, from our perspective, it gives us exactly what we need. I wouldn't need to over-complicate it. We have around 70 users who use Centreon in one way or another. Ten to 12 are using it daily, one of their main tasks is to go through it. The rest are on-call, escalation. They would go on Centreon, if they get a specific call, to get more information. In terms of their roles, we have the NOC team that uses it, and then we have the Cloud Operations team, which is the second tier of our infrastructure cloud. They use it when they receive escalated incidents. Part of the DevOps team, two or three, uses it to administrate the system. And some of the managers look at it every once in a while to see if there are things that are alerting in a major incident. Regarding staff for maintaining the solution, it depends. When you have, say, a new product, and you have new service checks and need to connect it to new host templates, that might take some time, but that's a business requirement. When it comes to just maintaining Centreon itself, it's not too much work. It's one of many tools that our DevOps maintain. I don't think they have too much of a headache with it. There are things here and there but it's not something that is very time-consuming. In terms of how much of the solution we're using, you can always improve it. It's a matter of the time that you have to put into it. Right now, it's giving us enough. We have tried to learn a few things about it. It's a lot work, and we have had to do other things instead. We are happy with the solution, with where we are at the moment. If we had more time we'd seek to improve it, use new features they have. But we haven't had time to work on it. You have to configure it, you have to maintain it, and write processes. That wasn't at the top of our list. We're using Centreon for what we're using it for, and we're using other tools to complete it. Overall, I would rate Centreon at nine out of ten. They have excellent support, fair pricing for what you get. It's not some sort of machine that does analytics and discovers the servers and these kinds of things. If you want something, arrange a call, talk about it. When they have a new feature they're very excited about it. It's open-source, they're contributing to that and releasing things. If you're good at something, just stick with it. Don't make any critical changes. If it's working well, don't try to break it, or be something you're not, and reinvent everything. They haven't changed the UI so much, and that's what's good about it. They didn't try to reinvent it or change something. They took what's good about Nagios and added the things that needed to be added. There's always room for improvement, they're not perfect, that's why I'm not giving them a ten, but they are good. It wasn't just me who decided that we should go on with Centreon. It was myself and three DevOps, and we all came to the same decision, that we should continue with them. Looking back at it, we'd probably do the same. It's just what we need. I just hope that in the future they'll be able to adapt in the world of containers, more complicated monitoring.
My advice is to make it simple. When I say that, it's in terms of templating. With Centreon we can create a lot of templates. It is very good to have something very flexible and configurable. But be careful, don't create a lot of templates that will clash with other templates because, in the end, it will be very complex to maintain. Start simple and maintain up-to-date documentation. We use other reporting solutions to complement it, to create beautiful reports that are specifically requested by our customers. In the future, I expect we will use a diverse range of products to give us the value we need to present to our customers. I'm a solution architect, so my main job is to provide good solutions to meet demands. When we build a design, we study which solution will make sense for the customer. As an integrator, of course, I need to be sure that any solution, for the price, will make sense for my enterprise as well. If we compare Centreon to another open-source monitoring system, and we're talking about it as a pure monitoring system, I would rate Centreon between eight and nine out of ten. If we compare it to a Big Data system, it would be closer to seven out of ten, due to the Big Data capacity that we don't have with Centreon. Strictly on monitoring, it gets a good score but with the new technologies, what we see with Big Data and the capabilities for machine-learning and AI, etc., the latter will have a better score because they have the capability to generate a lot of metrics.
Follow the best practices and the installation process in the documentation. It is very easy to understand. In terms of the Remote Server functionality, I'm not highly familiar with it yet, but based on what I have read I think it is a great feature and I'm open to any possibility of using it in the future. We have 300 to 400 users. Some are infrastructure engineers, VPs, application analysts, and people on the upper management team. For deployment and maintenance, we have three to five personnel: our Senior Vice President, Linux/VM engineers, and global operations engineers.
I rate Centreon at nine out of 10 because I think the user interface can be improved. That's why I don't rate it a 10. But, from my point of view, this is one of the better monitoring products.
If they have the same issues that we had, which means a lot of pollers spread across the whole infrastructure and no central view to look at the entire status with the need to manage everything together, then it is a good solution. For this use case, I would highly recommend it.
Clearly understand what you want to be able to monitor. Clearly understand what alarms, what things you actually wish to monitor, before you start implementing. There are so many options for configuration and optimization that you really need to be able to map it out beforehand. Design and put down what you want to achieve. Don't just jump in and start adding things. It's a great product, it's very flexible. There is a lot of customization you can do with the product. It has numerous add-ons that can enhance the functionality of the product.
When you buy Centreon, you must understand that it is empty. Do not ask it to do your job. Centreon is a solution, and it is very good and efficient if you put all your infrastructure inside. A lot of enterprises buy Centreon and are surprised that it is empty, or it does not work. It does not work, because they have not put anything inside to monitor. Therefore, it is very important to explain the buying and usage of Centreon to future customers. You must work to use Centreon. This is very important.
If you put it up, be sure to use Centreon's documentation because if you don't use it you will run into problems. Otherwise, I would recommend it because it's quite easy to set up, it's easy to use, their documentation is quite okay. At first, the documentation was very bad, but in recent years it has gotten better, much better. Set it up, test it and try it and you will see that it is the product that you want to work with.
Centreon is like a sandbox for monitoring your systems. It allows you to customize and automate different tasks, such as the configuration of hosts for monitoring, and actions taken during an alert. I recommend some training and deploying a lab environment instance, where administrators can fully understand how each feature integrates with the rest of the system to help avoid early configuration mistakes and achieve an efficient production environment design.