Enterprise Features Tech

9 reasons not to install Nagios in your company

October 11, 2016

9 reasons not to install Nagios in your company

This post is also available in: Spanish

Everyone’s heard of Nagios, or at least they should have. A network monitoring tool with thousands of worldwide users, who’ve been using it for the last 15 years? What’s the problem?

We’re not saying Nagios doesn’t have its uses, but, given that it’s in such widespread use, sometimes it’s assumed that it’s the tool for any and every business, without stopping to ask if that’s really the case. Maybe we should be asking ourselves “What does my business need?” before reaching for a default solution.

With over ten years of experience in servers, networks and security to back us up, we boldly set out our ten reasons why it might not always be a good idea to install Nagios to manage a business monitoring service, in the case that you’d like your business to be an ongoing concern.

nagios

Technical aspects

1. Firstly, Nagios isn’t a product, it’s a project. Every time Nagios gets installed in a company it’s a bespoke installation, meaning that no two installations are the same. Ditto for deployment. In the long term this bespoke installation can turn problematic, if we would like to create an industry standard, with all the time-and-resource savings that implies. As things stand, systems techs in different companies will be writing different scripts to solve basically the same problem in the same environment. Obviously, this proliferation of solutions means no standardized troubleshoots are coming out of the Nagios open source community.

2. “Out-of-the=box” Nagios is pretty limited and has to be supplemented with various plugins, addons and third-party extensions, which end up turning any installation into a kind of software salad, without any kind of global vision or homogeneity

3. Being a made-to-measure project, Nagios depends on a limited team, some of whom may not even be present when you have a problem, and might not be able to help in any case. It’s hard to know where the buck stops with so many modifications to the core installation.

4. Nagios, with its static configuration, was never designed for dynamic environments, and is difficult to integrate into automatic provisioning processes. Scalability has never been Nagios’s strong point.

Business aspects

5. As monitoring gets more important for a company’s growth, you can find yourself depending on, not to say hostage to, a bunch of gurus, rather than a software manufacturer, with all the support that a standarized solution can offer.

6. Any problem that can’t be solved by your tech team will remain unsolved, especially if the setup has become increasingly idiosyncratic. Basically, nobody external to your company will have a clue. Only the people who’ve worked with your system will know all its ins and outs; what’s been changed, what’s been patched, and so on. In large companies system audits are mandatory, and these audits are usually carried out by the manufacturer of the software.

7. As an open source piece of software, Nagios might seem like a money-saving option (no annual licensing fees, right?), but, like any open source solution, it lacks a roadmap for the future of your business. Right now, it might seem like a good idea, but a couple of years down the line?

8. If your installation was done by a small team, and they decide to move on, you’re left with a canoe and no paddle; no support, no training, no documentation will be able to make up for the loss of the departed guru. Back to the drawing board.

9. It’s more costly to keep your Nagios guru employed, and doing a task which doesn’t provide any profits in itself, than to pay for a license, a training course and a technician.

It might seem like we’re blowing our own trumpet here, but the real aim of this article is to point out the many other monitoring solutions available besides Nagios itself. Keep in mind that there are dozens of software applications on the market, with licenses, support and training courses to provide the back-up you need, including Nagios XI, the licensed version of Nagios open source (just to show you we’re all about objectivity). You might not even need all the power of Pandora FMS Enterprise, and could easily get by with PRTG or WhatsUp Gold. We would only recommend Pandora FMS to those organizatons which really need that level of performance.

Further reading:

http://blogs.gartner.com/jonah-kowall/2013/02/22/got-nagios-get-rid-of-it/

https://kartar.net/2013/01/monitoring-sucks—a-rant/

http://es.slideshare.net/superdupersheep/stop-using-nagios-so-it-can-die-peacefully/37

http://blogs.gartner.com/jonah-kowall/2014/02/06/monitoring-software-sucks-so-i-use-nagios-whats-a-better-approach/

 


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    11 comments
    1. Virtually all of your complaints about open source have equal-but-different issues on the proprietary software side: 1) How many times have commercial software companies gone out of business? (more do than survive) 2) how many times have commercial software companies been bought out by a competitor only to have the product you like killed? (for me that's dozens of times) 3) How often do commercial products have larger development teams than open source projects? In a number of cases, open source projects can be much bigger. Also commercial employees quit, get fired, etc. It isn't like they are there forever. I wonder how open source vs commercial developer life-cycles compare? 4) Having the source means you can pay someone to make chances you want even if the upstream project has no interest. Commercial software rarely allows individual customers access to the source and will not let anyone else change their product. They may or may not allow customers to purchase development of features. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Regarding no two installs are the same. That isn't necessarily true. A number of Linux distros package Nagios as well as dozens of plugins. Reproducing those are quite easy.

      • Javier

        Thanks for your feedback Scott. First, we do not intend to say that Open source is not the right way. Indeed we have one of the most powerful open monitoring software and we are very proud of this. However, I do think that Enterprise versions and Enterprise support help companies to ease the support and optimize and save productions costs. It is my experience. I really like your comments and I am happy to show my opinion. Lets recap: How many opensource projects go from “alive” to “zombie” with unlimited forks and community wars?, usually when a company is gone out of the business is because a bigger one take their business and their customers. At least they are not “alone”. Pandora FMS gives most of it’s source code to the customer and allow him to ask for roadmap changes, including it on the official sourcetree, giving it support on the roadmap on long term. Ok, sourcecode is cool and you can make your own changes, but who are going to maintain on the next release, yourself?, how many thousands of code are you able to keep ? About different Nagios installs, IMHO, anyone who have used the Nagios setup can understand why is very difficult to have same installs in different installations.

    2. Benny Hod

      This just feels like rant from someone who don't understand how to work with nagios or icinga. As with all products, it will never been better than your configuration, if you do a crappy setup, then you have a system no one can really use. If you invest time, use the extensions or tools that you can use together with it, it will be a time saver when something happens. Don't forget it's only the community version of Nagios which is free, there is a commercial product too (Nagios XI), which Nagios Enterprises is developing. OP5 is also contribution a lot of code into the community version, as it's the core component of their products. If you want to trash something, then go for products for which the company behind it don't be able to give proper support and made things so complicated to use that no one really want to use it, one such example is Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.

      • Javier

        Benny, thanks for your feedback. That is exactly what we mean: you need to waste a lot of time to have it “working nice”. About the Nagios XI we already have mentioned it in the article. Don’t you think bashing microsoft products is unnecesary ? :), this is not about bashing, is about free talk.

    3. John

      The real way to read this article is to replace "Nagios" with open source project X. And now you get what it is actually saying.

      • Javier

        Thanks John, no, the goal of this article is to warn about bad practices in the monitoring software industry, which are very common in Nagios. I have migrated more than one hundred Nagios installations and these are the main concerns of my clients.....This is just based on my experience. Thanks again for your comment Best Javier

    4. Keith

      A commercial product software mean, if the company die, you software will end up will no support at all. But for an Open Source Software like Nagios? The community is out there, millions of Linux experts are all around the world. You pay, you will get people to help. And don't forget for a commercial product, usually the buying a support, the fee is not cheap. Pay the commercial support fee to your System Administrator as a bonus, he/she will very happy to get to job done for you.

    5. Javier

      You are right Keith, that is the reason we keep both versions, the enterprise and the open one. However, we think Nagios community is decreasing as Nagios is getting lower support than years before. Read this article https://blog.pandorafms.org/network-monitoring-tools/ and check how Nagios is losing the piece of the cake. Thanks for your feedback!

    6. Steve

      I must agree with the article. About two years ago we used Nagios in all our projects (we are systems integrator). It works, but the question always was: why simple things should be so complex? Finally we found CloudView NMS and it is now what we use. I still did not find any Nagios function which CloudView NMS does not have. Also CloudView price does not change as your network grows: we had projects with thousands of monitored nodes and the price was just $295.

    7. We have install fully automated nagios in our enterprise. We are monitoring only 100 clients with it. From last one year it is working fine and stable. What else require for free ? Although we have to work hard to make it more responsive like paid product,but still whatever it is , it is better than nothing for free !!!

    8. […] can save money if we integrate it to Nagios in certain tasks (although we have already warned you about Nagios), as well as other integrations, but there is one that stands out from the rest: Microsoft SCOM®. […]

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