Linux Network Monitoring

World Wide Web Network Availability with Linux

The World Wide Web has increased the complexity, expectations, and options for computer networking. Many companies outsource their resources (e-mails, e-commerce, Web sites and operations) to third-party data centers. Only the most efficient business networks will succeed.

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Just as a good automobile mechanic anticipates future problems by diagnosing problems based on a “click,” “whirr,” or “whine” – a dynamic Linux network monitoring platform can identify, alert and report glitches before they crash the entire system. Web computer network administrators can use these network monitoring tools to ensure that their applications, devices, printers, databases, Web pages, servers, routers, switches, and firewalls are functioning properly at all times.

Key Linux Network Monitoring Issues

Network administrators have increasingly promised definite uptime rates for hosted Web pages and web-based applications. In order to satisfy these requirements, Information Technology (IT) professionals depend on tools that can help them monitor, alert, and report potential problems rapidly, accurately, and efficiently. The primary Linux monitoring platform issues for IT administrators include the following:

  • Out-of-the-box functionality: How fast can it be installed and provide real monitoring functions?
  • Training: How long does it take to learn how to operate the platform?
  • Ease-of-use: Is the user interface (UI) intuitive, using familiar buttons, symbols, and techniques?
  • Monitoring: How does the platform assist administrators in seeing network problems?
  • Alerting: What is the speed, transmission, and notification method for telling administrators about problems?
  • Reporting: What tables, graphs, and maps are available?
  • Trouble-shooting: How does this monitoring platforms help IT technicians find-and-fix network problems?
  • Scalability: Can this platform expand?
  • Price: Are free and commercial platforms available?

Most Popular Linux Network Monitoring Brands

There are a number of popular Linux network monitoring products available.

The following three have received favorable reviews:

+ Nagios
+ Zabbix
+ Zenoss.

Nagios Linux Network Monitoring

Nagios is considered the standard for open-source Linux network monitoring for points of failure, service-level-agreement (SLA) errors, and server problems. It uses the remote plug-in model, which requires extensive time spent writing code.

  • Out-of-the-box functionality: Nagios can be difficult to setup because the plug-in code must be written manually.
  • Training: There is an abundance of information available for learning about Nagios; this is a low maintenance product.
  • Ease-of-use: Nagios has a fairly straightforward process for configurations.
  • Monitoring: This simplistic system use an “On/Off” or “Out-of-Range” variable check.
  • Alerting: Alerts notify network administrators of any problems.
  • Reporting: The “Tactical Monitoring Overview” measures network health by identifying events, trends, and problems in hosts and services.
  • Trouble-shooting: This tool can detect server errors, infrastructure problems, and system failures.
  • Scalability: Since all updates must be written manually, there are problems with scalability.
  • Price: Free download.

2009 Awards for Nagios Linux network monitoring include the Infoworld “Best of Open Source Software,” “SourceForge Community Choice Award,” and “Linux Journal Readers Choice”.

Zabbix Linux Network Monitoring

Zabbix is great for real-time monitoring, alerting, and visualizing network devices, services, and systems from a single entry point. All Zabbix data is stored in a relational database (like MySQL), it uses server-agents and the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for monitoring.

  • Out-of-the-box functionality: Customers can download the source code from Zabbix Web site – “www.zabbix.com” installation takes only a few minutes. Initial set up is easy providing basic monitoring functionality.
  • Training: Zabbix requires a couple of weeks of training because there are so many configurable features.
  • Ease-of-use: It has an attractive graphic UI; two-click zooming allows users to view graph details.
  • Monitoring: The “dashboard” provides a good amount of “real-time data” on network performance: parameters, details, and scenarios. Customers can customize settings using triggers or filters to track host memory, processor usage, and free disk space.
  • Alerting: Users can set variable thresholds, mode of transmission (e-mail or SMS messaging), and escalation settings (that continue to send alerts until a problem is solved).
  • Reporting: Zabbix will report the number of hosts being monitored, triggers, alarms, and alerts. It is especially effective at maintaining a solid statistical history, which can be distributed to clients to document service.
  • Trouble-shooting: Administrators have more details that can be monitored, providing a wealth of information for decision-making.
  • Scalability: Numerous programming scripts are supported.
  • Price: Free or commercial solutions are available.

Zenoss Linux Network Monitoring

Zenoss is an open-source, agent-less, network monitoring platform used for monitoring basic elements, like disk space and CPU utilization, in more than 20,000 organizations around the world. Since network monitoring is a core business service of many Web hosting companies, it is essential to know the status of the network at any given moment. Zenoss provides tools that provide a glimpse of network health at all times.

  • Out-of-the-box functionality: Customers can simply visit the Web site – “www.Zenoss.com” – to download the Zenoss Core platform. Customers select the devices to monitor, enter credentials, and Zenoss will “Ping” the IP addresses to add them to the system. Users must also install the SNMP. Immediate events management functionality is established.
  • Training: There are frequent webinars available.
  • Ease-of-use: Zenoss has a good UI.
  • Monitoring: It provides real-time monitoring of events, performance, and availability of network devices.
  • Alerting: Zenoss shares alerts rapidly with the interested parties.
  • Reporting: It includes a number of default reports including “Notification Schedules,” “SNMP Status Issues,” and “Aggregate Reports.”
  • Trouble-shooting: The tight loop of configuration, performance, and events reporting assists in fixing problems.
  • Scalability: Zenpacks are used for extending, modifying, and improving Zenoss for larger applications.
  • Price: Zenoss Core is free; Zenoss Enterprise is commercial.

2009 Zenoss awards include the “Best of Cloud Computing,” and Bronze from SearchDataCenter.com for “Product of the Year”.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Brands

  • Nagios is the best for simple availability (or status) monitoring.
  • Zabbix uses a server-agent monitor that must be installed on each box, while Zenoss is agent-less. Zabbix has many versatile features, including an attractive user interface and maintains a more complete history than Nagios.
  • Zenoss is more of a complete tool; it is better at monitoring “Performance Graphing of Load Average, CPU Utilization, Memory Utilization and Disk I/O” than Nagios. Initial Zenoss setup offers more immediate functionality. Zenoss provides a more integrated infrastructure model for monitoring applications, servers, and network devices.

Good Products for Linux Network Monitoring

Downtime translates into lost time, lost money, and lost opportunities. Nagios remains the standard with a solid “status” model, Zabbix is feature-rich and better for a complete history, and Zenoss offers a more complete package for Linux network monitoring. Whichever is best for your organization, it is essential that database, communications, and security features continue to function properly to guarantee business success.

One Response to Linux Network Monitoring

  1. Emmanuel says:

    Zabbix provides agentless monitoring with Support of SNMP v1,2 and 3.

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