Free infrastructure/network monitoring software for SMB

69410 pts.
Tags:
Infrastructure management
Linux
Microsoft Windows
Monitoring
Nagios
Network monitoring
Solaris
We are looking for a free network/infrastructure monitoring solution for a network of about 150 devices (including servers, workstations, switches/routers and printers). Some of the features we would like to have include: -Disk usage monitoring -Network usage monitoring -Process/service monitoring -Software installations -Configurable alerts (via e-mail) -Reports (events, alerts, inventory, etc) We have been testing Spiceworks (it's free but you get some ads in the administration console), and it seems to be a good option. We are planning to test Zabbix as well. I created a small network to test Nagios a couple of years ago, and I remember it demonstrated to be a really powerful and flexible tool, but I'm not clear whether the Nagios Core can be used without a license fee with some other OSS interface or we have to necessarily use Nagios XI and pay for a license. Most of our machines are running Windows, but we have some Linux and Solaris servers as well. Can someone clarify my Nagios doubt, comment on the Spiceworks and Zabbix options, and/or provide any other recommendation ? Any comments appreciated. Thanks.

Software/Hardware used:
Need to monitor Windos XP, Vista, 7, 2000, 2003, Linux and Solaris machines

Answer Wiki

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Nagios is the leader in the open source monitoring space. Unfortunatley don’t recall utilizing a license when I used it last which was a couple years ago as well. I know some other shops utilizing Groundworks and Zenoss which is supposedly comparable to Nagios from their perspective. Most free Windows products won’t go up to 150 so that’s why I’m providing open source I recall utilizing.

I have read about Munim recently for managing and gives status updates for Linus server.

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  • carlosdl
    Thanks Aguacer0, I will consider Zenoss as well, and will post my comments after the evaluation. If anyone has any other suggestions/comments, please go ahead.
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  • carlosdl
    I remember that Schmidtw (one of the community's most active members) implemented Nagios recently. It would be nice to have a way to send him a message...
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  • Willnottellyou
    Dear Carlos, Your question posted is a bit confused but I will try my level best to answer this question. Lets break up your points into 2 parts ... 1st we will talk about monitoring tool - As per my experience NAGOIS is the best tool which I have found to use for your monitoring but there are some limitations in this tool the community version of NAGOIS can monitor only up to 6 servers and if you want to monitor more then 6 servers then you can go for their license version which will not cost you much i.e. about 1000 $ ... You also have lot of plugins in NAGOIS and they are very useful hence would suggest that you go for NAGOIS. This is the first point which I wanted to discuss. The second part is your inventory software which you said you are using spiceworks ... it is free but very heavy application and you cannot modify this application as you do not have the source code but I would suggest you to go for 2 applications which are open source and I have extensively used these applications at many of my clients place they are 1. OCS NG ( OCS inventory ) ... this software is a fantastic software written in perl, php which uses MySQL as the backend with APACHE and PHP. You have to install a Server first for this application and on their website you will get client application which you have to install it on all your desktop whether it be Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris or MAC. The server will take complete inventory of your desktops and other devices. give a google search for this application. 2. GLPI - this software - server has to be installed on the same server where your OCS NG is installed not necessary you can have a different server ... you can fetch all your inventory from OCSNG and import it to GLPI ... the reason i asking you to install GLPI because lookwise it is very sophisticated and it has also got Help Desk Management features which work together with inventory. check for these 2 softwares and i think you have found your solution. Bye take care
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  • Schmidtw
    Hello Carlosdl, We use Nagios for all of our monitoring, mostly because of the power and flexibility of the system. We do not pay for anything Nagios, we use the service entirely free and have found NO LIMIT on the number or type of devices. We run Nagios on a Linux server, which works well. Despite it's huge functionality, the footprint is actually quite small. We use the Nagios OSS for free - it is a web-based service hosted on the server which runs the Nagios service. There are tools built in to allow for remote access and administration, so I can literally monitor every device on my network from anywhere in the world. The interface is very informational, and I do not find anything more than the web-based version to be necessary. We do not pay for support. Nagios has such a large user base that I don't find the support necessary. If you look around enough in forums and sites like this, you can find the configuration set ups and even code to do most everything you want. The nice thing about Nagios is if you can think it, it can most likely be done. From monitoring temperatures, to printer jams, ink levels, camera packet loss, etc. basically everything can be done, and it supports Perl scripts...which expands its horizons even more! The extensibility of Nagios is phenomenal. It can get quite involved. We have looked at Spiceworks, but mainly only to add the I.T. ticketing ability. It has not surpassed Nagios in any monitoring function. Nagios can and will monitor disk usage, CPU load, processes or services, etc. It also has incredibly modifiable alerts (email 8am-5pm, text 5pm-9pm, off 9pm-8am, for example), if you're willing to get your hands a little dirty. Hope this helps! -Schmidtw
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  • carlosdl
    Thank you guys, I really appreciate your responses.
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  • mitrum
    have you try spiceworks http://www.spiceworks.com/referrer/mitrum
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  • carlosdl
    Thanks Mitrum. As I mentioned from the beginning, we have already tested Spiceworks.
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  • mitrum
    Oop's but I use Spiceworks for the same . If you wants to block ads you can try k9 web protection or use Norton dns in your TCP/IP setting.
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  • carlosdl
    Thanks Nnsa. We are already using Munin to monitor our Linux servers, but we are looking for a tool to monitor all of our machines (windows, linux and solaris). Thanks.
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  • AlexisW
    If I remember well, my previous company was using What's Up Gold as network management software. I think it had all the bells & whistles we wanted.
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  • 5ft24
    @willnotletyou, Why do you say the open Nagios only monitors 6 servers? We are monitoring 183 servers in our environment with 5 to 6 services on each, and are using the OSS version without issue... I highly recommend Nagios for it's versatility
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  • carlosdl
    It’s been almost 3 months since I started researching monitoring solutions, and we are currently using Zenoss, but I can guarantee that this will be a definitive decision. The first tool I evaluated was Spiceworks. This is a windows application that you can have installed and monitoring your network within 30 minutes or less. It has a beautiful GUI and you can set it to scan your network, discover your devices, classify them and start monitoring them very easily. It can monitor disks, network interfaces, printer toner, and even antivirus status on client machines. It has good reporting options and includes a help desk solution. You can use it free of charge. I tested it with about 50 devices and it worked without issues. It uses WMI, SSH and SMTP to monitor devices, so it doesn’t need an agent to be installed on monitored machines. This tool is not open source. You can add some functionality through some kind of add-ons, but you can’t modify the core application. Additionally, they keep the tool free by including some ads in the monitoring console. These were the two main things I didn’t like about Spiceworks, and this is why I decided to evaluate some open source alternatives. I evaluated 3 open source options: Nagios, Zabbix and Zenoss. I evaluated the free versions of these products (not Nagios XI nor Zenoss enterprise). At the end, we opted for Zenoss (core). The first thing I should say, is that I think that any thing that can be done with any of these 3 tools, can be done with the other two as well, but probably in a different way and with more or less work. Additional functionality can be added to all 3 by means of plug-ins, add-ons or zenpacks, and as they are open source, you can modify the core application as well if you need to. I post here the advantages and disadvantages I saw on each one, based on our infrastructure, requirements and other factors that could be particular for our organization. However, this might serve as a starting point for someone wanting to evaluate and choose a free and open source monitoring solution. NAGIOS: Advantages: -It is the less resource-hungry one. -Its web interface is very fast and simple. -It has a large user base, you can easily find help. -Acceptable documentation. -Many plug-ins and ad-ons available. -Very flexible -Network mapping capabilities. -Many advanced features (which are not visible through the web interface, but are configurable through the many configuration files it uses). Disadvantages: -Configuration changes must be done by directly modifying the configuration files. The default web interface does not include configuration options. -It seems that there is no native support for authentication when sending e-mail alerts. One can certainly make it work by installing and configuring some additional tools, but it requires some work. -I didn’t like the web interface too much. -The default web interface does not include graphics that one can use to make a trending analysis, it shows only real time data. One can generate graphics with the help of some additional tool that needs to be installed and configured. -The default reports included are very few. -It does not offer information useful to inventory the monitored devices (I know, it is a monitoring tool, nothing more) -Everything is stored on text files (not database). -An agent needs to be installed on (most of) the monitored devices (having an agent could be an advantage in some circumstances). -Performance graphs, configuration wizards, custom dashboards and other features are available only in the commercial version (Nagios XI). ZABBIX: Advantages: -It offers graphing capabilities out of the box. Graphs can be generated for almost anything. -It shows many details (hardware and software) about monitored devices. -It has device discovering capabilities, and with the agent installed on the devices, the auto discovery process can classify them and assign them the proper monitoring template, automatically. -Everything is stored in a database, so you can easily query the information to create custom reports or with any other purpose. -It needs a little more resources to run than Nagios, but its footprint is still small. -When the agent is installed on the monitored machines, an additional tool is installed too, which is used to send data to the Zabbix server asynchronously, similar to SNMP traps. Any program or script running on the machine can use this tool to send data to the server, which adds a great deal of flexibility. -It is under active development, and although it is not as popular as Nagios, there are many people using it. Disadvantages: -The web interface is not very attractive. -There is no native support for authentication when sending e-mail alerts. One can certainly make it work by installing and configuring some additional tools, but it requires some work. -An agent needs to be installed on (most of) the monitored devices (having an agent could be an advantage in some circumstances). -There is a network map option, but maps need to be created manually. -There is an inventory option, but device details must be added manually. -The default reports included are very few. -The documentation isn’t very god. -The install guide could be improved. The application needs to be installed from source, and resolving all dependencies to successfully compile the tool can take some time. ZENOSS: Advantages: -Very nice web interface -It performs agent-less monitoring. It uses WMI, SSH and SMTP to gather information from the monitored devices. -Built-in support for authentication for e-mail alerts. -Network mapping capabilities. -Many reports included -Backup and restore options from the web interface. -Configurable dashboard -It is under active development, and although it is not as popular as Nagios, there are many people using it. -Acceptable documentation. -Easy installation, with binary/native stack installers for most major Linux distributions. Some virtual appliances available as well. -It can run Nagios plug-ins Disadvantages: -It is very resource-hungry when compared to Nagios and Zabbix. -The web interfaces can be slow. -It has device discovery capabilities, but devices need to be classified manually after the discovery, and monitoring starts after a process called ‘model’ has been run on the devices. -Some information is stored in a database (events) but some other information is stored in text files. This is a summarized comparison of the 3 options we evaluated. However it was not an in-depth evaluation, and there arem for sure, many things that we overlooked when making our choice. Hope this helps someone in the future. -CarlosDL
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  • Labnuke99
    Nice writeup Carlosdl! Thanks for sharing!
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