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MonitoringNetwork Monitoring

Network monitoring system , what do you need to know about it?

September 25, 2017 — by Javier0

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monitoreo de red que debemos saber

Some of the features about Network Monitoring System that you must know: Characteristics required for a Good Network Monitor System

For any company networks are now a fact of life. They are one of the most important elements of your business so a network monitoring system able to oversee and provide feedback on your network is absolutely imperative. If the network goes down for whatever reason your data won’t be transmitted and your company won’t be offering any service to its clients, your SLAs will suffer, your brand will be tarnished, and your customer complaints lines will be red hot with incoming grievances.

For all these reasons and more, a monitoring system can make all the difference to your business. The main objective of any systems administrator is to ensure that the network is in tip-top shape, performing as required, 100% of the time. Choosing the right tool for the job is going to help you detect problems before they provoke a general network collapse or at least some serious downtime.

To be clear about terms, we should first distinguish between network monitoring and network management. Monitoring is what allows you to analyze and get feedback on your network’s status. Network management, on the other hand, goes further, as it not only allows you to manage your systems but also to take actions to alleviate network problems and provide global oversight of all your systems.

In this article we’re going to take a look at carrying out some basic network monitoring, and go on to look at the principal characteristics that any network monitoring system should have.

Basic Network Monitoring

Network monitoring 101, where syslog messages and bandwidth control are fundamental.

What are syslog messages?

Syslog messages are generated by communication hardware and are sent to a central server where they are saved. Once on the server they can be easily monitored, analyses can be performed and alarms configured. For example, a syslog server can collect all failed login attempts and launch an alarm when more than ten failed attempts have been made in one minute, warning you that that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

Syslog servers

Windows Syslog. Used on Windows operating systems http://windowssyslog.codeplex.com/releases/view/617649
Tftpd32. For Windows systems. In addition to a syslog server it has DHCP, FTP, DNS and TFTP servers
http://tftpd32.jounin.net/
Visual Syslog Server. For Windows systems. http://maxbelkov.github.io/visualsyslog/
Syslog Server. For Linux and Windows
http://maxbelkov.github.io/visualsyslog/

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the quantity of information that passes through a network link during a specific time period, regardless of whether the data is passing through a physical connection or via Wi-Fi. The information is measured in bits/second and being able to measure the flow of data correctly is what tells you how busy your network is.

When a network is at 90% of its bandwidth it will start to have a knock-on effect on systems that are on the network. Using monitoring software it is possible to get accurate feedback on the status of your bandwidth, and whether it is saturated and why.

Tools for bandwidth measuring

Bandwidthd: Valid for Linux and Windows. http://bandwidthd.sourceforge.net/
Band WIdth Monitor NG. Beta. To measure network traffic and analyze protocols such as TCP, http, UPD, etc. http://sourceforge.net/projects/bwmng/

 network monitoring system

These two tools, correctly configured, give you the basics on your network’s health and allow you to configure and trigger alarms, as well as record and measure network activity, but do not let you manage the network. For that you will need a platform you can configure to take action when specific parameters are met or thresholds passed. This is the next step for network management.

Advanced network monitoring

What to keep in mind when choosing network monitoring software

  • Alert notifications.
  • External server integration.
  • Utility and proper representation of  data on your panels.
  • Flexibility to adapt to specific tools or software.
  • Access to API from external systems.
  • Automated device detection.
  • Database integration.
  • Multidevice.
  • Scalability.
  • Support for the greatest number of data acquisition protocols possible.
  • Security.
  • Virtual machine integration.
  • Hardware integration.
  • Remote control.
  • Hardware and Software inventory.
  • Geolocation.
  • Cloud monitoring.

Communicating alerts

When it comes to alerting users and administrators about network incidents it’s always best to have as many options at your disposal as possible. Just as important as the speed of delivery is the message’s format and compatibility. Firstly, messages have to be legible (HTML) and deliverable to smartphones, tablets, PCs, even wearables like your smartwatch or relics from the past like the dumbphone you use on Saturday night because you don’t want your iPhone to get trashed. They also need to be compatible with as many messaging formats as possible; WhatsApp, Telegram, email, SMS, push, etc

Integration with external systems.

Apart from bandwidth and network link status, a monitoring system needs to be able to monitor different servers: email, web or CRM application servers, among many others, allowing you to get statistics on your datacenters vital signs.

Visualizing data on the control panel

A picture tells a thousand words, they say and visual information is easier to understand than reams of paper covered in digits, which is why it is a no-brainer to present the information in as visual a way as possible. Your control panels should be configurable and customizable. They should allow the user to define roles, and access by role, because your CTO and your CFO need different information, even though it comes from the same source.

Flexibility to adapt to specific tools or software

It’s so important that your monitoring system can adapt to different environments and technologies that we wrote it in green. Not only must it adapt to the communication protocols already mentioned, but it must also be able to adapt to applications not found on every installation. If you think of something like a piece of business intelligence software created in-house, it is of maximum importance that your monitoring system is able to detect and monitor it.

Accessing APIs from external systems

Nowadays your applications are communicating among themselves. In order for an application to share its information with your monitoring system and with other applications its data and operations need to be accessible, via API. Bear in mind that the applications are usually located on different networks, so the API has to have broad compatibility (REST protocol, using libraries imported during software compiling, etc.).

Automated device detection

The monitoring tool you use should be able to automatically detect all the different elements and components that make up the network in order to save you time and give you information on how they are being used, their status, etc.

Database integration

In a previous article we saw how important databases are in the IT infrastructure so your monitoring solution needs to be able to integrate your database into the monitored park.

Multidevice

Devices are proliferating as more and more appliances become Internet-enabled, including tablets, TVs, smart watches and even fridges! So why not demand that the software that is going to monitor your network be accessible from any of them (except the fridge, for the time being)?

Scaling

The key to handling growth in your organization is to ensure your monitoring solution is designed to scale and handle larger and more complex machines and applications, etc. Take a look at the software that you are currently running and ask yourself how it will run if your system scales up and your datacenter expands.

Does it support the widest range of data acquisition protocols?

You want to collect as much data about your network as possible so your system needs to capture messages from network protocols such as Netflow, sFlow, jFlow, etc.

Security

Information is the currency of the digital age, and if you store sensitive information on your network you will be thinking about security. Monitoring tools need tight security regarding third party passwords, for example (most security breaches are due to human error, or negligence, rather than complicated hacks). Solutions should include encryption, double access protocols, etc.

Hardware integration

Networks are not only cables and nodes, but are fundamentally composed of machines and applications, so don’t underestimate your hardware. You don’t have to dig down to layer 1 nuts and bolts (but if you can, so much the better!), but monitoring temperature, disc space, or memory are all essential elements of good monitoring practice.

Remote control

A nice extra for any monitoring platform to include is the ability to remotely operate another PC, to intervene, troubleshoot, fix a problem, whatever.

Hardware and software inventory

Related to point number six, network discovery, but this time referring specifically to hardware and software. No one wants to waste time manually checking for new devices; your monitoring tool should be able to run those checks by itself, discover new hardware and software and give feedback on the status and location of each new element, plus inventorize them.

The most important data to be inventorized are:

  • OS, IP, bios, memeory, CPU and drivers
  • Installed programs, patches and versions.

Geolocation

Networks occupy physical, as much as cyber, space and it is essential to locate components of your network in case you need to physically access them, if they fail, need replacing, if they are offsite or even mobile, keeping track of your IT assets is never not a good idea.

Cloud monitoring

Say it loud, I’m Cloud and I’m proud! No one is afraid of the Cloud anymore, and more servers and applications are migrating there, taking advantage of the services offered by Amazon, and other hosting companies, not only to store gargantuan, incomprehensible amounts of data, but also to run services and applications. Your monitoring tool should most definitely be able to monitor any applications you have running on the Cloud.

A network monitoring tool is much more than a silent watchman, endlessly pinging devices and doing general plumbing and troubleshooting. In fact, they are an integral part of any business strategy, allowing you to use your resources – both human and technological – in a more effective way, reducing costs and times in many areas. Unsurprisingly, we recommend our own product, Pandora FMS, a monitoring tool designed for maximum flexibility and customizability that covers all the above requirements and many more, including UX, transaction monitoring and IOT monitoring.

Have we forgotten anything? Let us know if there is any item missing from our list, or if you have experience using Pandora FMS to monitor any of the above areas.

MonitoringNetworkNetwork Monitoring

Network commands for Windows and Linux

September 13, 2017 — by Javier2

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network commands

Basic Network Commands that every administrator should know

In this article we will go through different network commands for Windows and Linux, this is essential for any network Administrator. These network commands, can be used separately or can be combined with Pandora FMS to monitor in real time, or as part of a long-term strategy. This post along with the network tools one, will serve to better manage your network and your time.

If you do not know about Pandora FMS, we invite you to visit our website. But if you are already familiar with this tool, you’ll know that Pandora FMS stands out for its flexibility, therefore it is not surprising that it allows you to create and personalize monitoring plug-ins. With these commands that we will see today, you can create plug-ins in order to facilitate your work, and also suit the tool to your needs.

VNStat

It is one of the most complete network commands. It works on all Linux and BSD systems, and allows us to monitor network traffic from the console.

  • Installation is simple and fairly quick, allowing monitoring of all network interfaces.
  • With VNStat we can collect all traffic needed from any configured interface.
  • One of the big differences between VNStat and other tools is that VNStat collects kernel data instead of the interface itself, which means a lighter execution for the system.
    It will not require administrator permissions to run.
  • It has the ability to store gathered information so your information never goes missing, even if the system crashes or reboots itself.
  • You can set Vnstat to listen to traffic, daily or by billing period, as well as many other options.
  • It stands out for its flexibility when configuring the reading of traffic.
  • Finally, it is possible to set Vnstat output to generate console graphics and even customize them with colours.

Ping  (Unix/Windows)

Ping dates from the 70s and is known for being one of the most basic network commands. However, it is not as simple as we believe and has many more uses than those we already know. It is based on the ICMP protocol and is used to determine:

  • If there is connectivity between your machine and another machine on the network.
  • It’s used to measure the “speed” or latency time.

Network Commands Ping

It is a command that exists on all operating systems that support TCP/IP, and it is a basic command that you should know.

Ping is known for having dozens of parameters and the one that we find more useful is the one responsible for monitoring “the number of packages to send.” There are networks that undo the first package, so it is essential to send at least three so we can check that at least one has arrived without being discarded. For this we use the -c parameter.

The same technique can be used to determine the loss percentage of packages in our network, sending ten packages and seeing if any gets lost. The number of packages that usually get lost in the network will surprise you. (This tool is included in Pandora FMS)

Execution: Ping name/System IP

Traceroute  (Unix/Windows)

The main objective of this tool is to know the travelling path of a package through our network. This network command will tell us where the package is going through (machines, switches, routers) and check that our network is working properly. If you encounter any problems, it will allow us to have a rough idea about where the fault lies.

Pandora FMS uses this in its network-mapping tool (Recon Server) and thanks to this, along with other advanced tools, you can “draw” a hierarchy of the network.

Network Commands Traceroute
Execution:

traceroute –n (on Unix / Linux)

tracert –d (on Windows)

Arp (Unix/Windows)

This network command is used to change and view the ARP table, which contains the mappings between the IP address and the MAC address. It only sees the connections in our local area network segment (LAN), so it could be called “low level”. However, it’s used to discover what machines are directly connected to our host or what machines we are connected to. It is a diagnostic tool, and sometimes it can be interesting to monitor it in order to discard ARP Poisoning attacks, which are one of the most common forms of phishing attacks in local networks.

With Pandora FMS, a common integration is to check on some hosts, if the IP and MAC connection is always the same. If it suddenly changes, it is because a host on the network is impersonating another.

Execution: arp -a

Curl and wget (Unix/ Windows)

These are essential commands to do HTTP, HTTPS or FTP requests to remote servers. It allows you to download files or whole web pages, even recursively (it literally allows us to make a “copy” of a website, including images). It supports cookies and allows you to send POST requests, in addition to “simulate a” user agent, use a http proxy or even a SOCKS4/5 proxy.

One of the most common utilities in integration with Pandora FMS, is to verify the contents of a specific web page. Because wget / curl allows us to download the entire contents of a web, it is easy to compare the MD5 of that content with a value previously verified. If it changes, it means that the Web has been altered.

Netstat (Unix/Windows)

Network command identifies all TCP connections and UDP open on a machine. Besides this, it allows us to know the following information:

  • Routing tables to meet our network interfaces and its outputs.
  • Ethernet statistics that show sent and received packages and possible errors.
  • To know the id of the process that is being used by the connection.

Netstat is another basic command as Ping that meets many elementary functions. Some of the elements, that Pandora FMS agents use to get information of the system, are the traffic statistics, the number of open connections and most importantly, the number of closing pending connections or in a settlement process. An unusual growth in these metrics can be a serious problem , and it may be due to a performance problem on our server or even an external attack.

Network commands netstat

Whois (Unix/ Windows)

This network command is used to query data domains: to find out who owns the domain, when that domain expires, to view the configured logs, contact details, etc. Its use is highly recommended to contact the administrators of the domains or when incidents of migration of services such as mail and web happen.

To use ‘whois’ on Windows you need to download the software from this url: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/whois.aspx

You can also look through their website.

SSH (Unix/Linux/Windows)

Command to run terminals on remote machines safely. SSH allows any user to run a console just by registering and entering his credentials. So you can run the commands you want as if you were in local.

More details you need to know about SSH:

  • Putty is recommended when using SSH in Windows. You can find it here: http://www.putty.org/
  • To enable a remote computer to connect to our server via SSH, an SSH server must be installed and set up as FreeSSHd.
  • SSH also allows to obtain an interactive remote Shell, execute remote commands and copy files in both directions.
  • Last but not least, SSH is the natural replacement of classic tools like Telnet or FTP, and has become a basic tool in the administration of systems over the years. It is extremely powerful despite its complex combinations of symmetric encryption and authentication schemes, and verification, and it is the target of continuous attacks.

Pandora FMS uses SSH in different ways, and gives you the possibility to run remote commands. For security, we need the user to establish an authentication scheme based on certificates, which allows remote execution connections from a machine so that these connections can be made without requiring any password. It’s convenient, but something complex to implement. Therefore, in the Enterprise version, our satellite server allows multiple remote executions to different hosts in a much more optimized and comfortable way. This allows us to make hundreds of checks per second.

TCPDump (Unix/Linux/Windows)

It is one of the “basic” tools of network commands, and when used right, goes on to become a great ally for network administrators, system administrators or programmers.

TCPDump is an advanced command used to inspect traffic from different interfaces of a machine so you can get the exchanged packages. You can dump output to file so then you can analyse it with more powerful sniffers and graphical interfaces such as Wireshark. For Windows, you must use WinDump.

Ngrep (Unix/Linux/Windows)

  • The grep command power is taken to the network.
  • It is a TCPDump with a substring text filter in real time.
  • It has a very powerful filtering system for regular expressions and it is typically used to process files generated by tcpdump, wireshark, etc.
  • It is a communication package filter over HTTP, SMTP, FTP, DNS and other protocols.

NMAP (Unix/Windows)

NMAP is considered the father of the general network scanners. Although today there are more reliable tools for some tasks (like Fping), NMAP is a very versatile tool for scanning networks. It is used to determine which hosts are alive in a network and to do different ways of scanning.

Netcat (Windows/Unix)

NetCat, or NC, is the network command most versatile that exists nowadays and one of the lightest. However its use requires some imagination. Only if you’ve played with scripting, you will understand the subtlety of its name: NetCat. It is a tool designed to be used as a destination of a redirect (one pipe or |). It is used to send or receive information about a connection. For example, a WEB request to a service would be something as simple as:

echo -e “GET http://pandorafms.com HTTP/1.0\n\n” | nc pandorafms.com 80

Lsof (Unix/Windows)

The ‘lsof’ command is not only used as a network tool, but also is used to identify which files have an open process. In Unix environments, a file can be a network connection, so that is used to know which ports have an open particular running process, something extremely useful in specific cases.

It can also be used to find out how many open files a process has, it has nothing to do with the network, but it sure can be helpful.

IPtraf (Linux)

Special command to obtain traffic statistics. It has a ncurses interface (text) to analyse real-time traffic passing through an interface. It allows you to work at low-level and to see what pairs of connections are established on each machine, and to see in detail the traffic connection of every pair, all in real time. It is very useful if you notice something wrong with your machine and you do not know what traffic is going through it.

Network Commands IpTraf

We hope this list of network commands was of interest to you. Are you missing a network command? Do not hesitate to let us now so we can include it in this list.

Business Activity MonitoringEnterpriseIntegracionesIntegrations

Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) to monitor business processes in real time

March 27, 2017 — by Javier0

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Finding a tool which allows you to monitor business processes in real time isn’t easy, and because of this we’ll talk about those Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) tools that allow managers to monitor the status of their business processes and the global business, all from the same point. Furthermore, they’re very important in helping decision making. The task they accomplish is crucial in a company, because they allow a global vision of the company status, which can be viewed from the same place.

In this article we’ll talk about BAM (business activity monitoring) tools, and try to give you a global idea and understanding on how these tools can help you, and what you should know in order to choose the best tool for your organization.

business-activity monitoring featured (BAM)

Business Activity Monitoring

Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) allows decision making based on monitoring business processes in real time. Plus, these tools allow the correlation of work events, identifying behavior tendencies and patterns, along with the possibility to offer action completion, generating new events. The main objective of BAM is to know a process’ behavior and evolution.

These tools improve speed and optimize efficiency in work operations. In order to do this they perform activity logs and notify about possible problems, along with the status of each process.BAM analyzes the opportunities and risks the company has, with the goal of maximizing profitability.

Business Activity Monitoring is actually a complex toolset that allows monitoring the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). To the user, it offers complete visibility over business processes, providing the most precise information about the status and results of operations and processes performed, so that it’s the user who’s ready for any problems that may arise.

BAM can be used to predict events such as estimating the prices for each action that takes place during a process, interest rates or voting results. These tools not only help in business processes and in sending event alerts, they also provide executives involved in the strategic planning with information.

BAM software allows retrieving metrics on work processes in general or specific metrics applied to each department. They also pick up on data from files and databases. With this, the BAM tool gives support to decision making based on complex and detailed information.

Business Activity Monitoring tools allow the user to understand the operations performed in the corporative environment in real time. This gives a chance to identify possible new scenarios that require decision making. These tools apply new indicators and reinforce existing ones, so performance and efficiency levels on each task are properly maintained. They also provide ease when following up on transactions performed, helping active processes through systems and applications that detect possible setbacks.

 BAM Components

The components that form a BAM system are the following:

  • Decision support: through a set of rules it interprets and recognizes situations in order to help the user in decision making.
  • Action-ready dashboards: those decisions generated will transform into integrated actions on the dashboard.
  • User answers/actions are captured within the BAM tool and then are sent to the systems to be executed.
  • Adaptation and learning, where user answers are integrated into the decision system with the intention of improving the support in decision making and in action-ready dashboard creation.

Summing up, here would be a list of the main functions a BAM tool should perform:

  • They’re in charge of monitoring processes and systems.
  • Event predictions: failures, poll results, etc.
  • Event alerts for procedure failures.
  • Improve performance on business processes, optimizing efficiency.
  • They help give a global bottom-up view of our business. In other words, we’re capable of knowing how much money we’re making during a process and what technical errors the process’ database generates.
  • Makes sure that the established tasks are finished and done so according to estimated performance levels.

BAM Methodology (Business Activity Monitoring)

BAM methodology complies with the following process:

  1. We must define our processes. To do this we must keep in mind what its phases or stages are, and the indicators or KPIs we want to measure during each stage. We also should define how we want to see the different process indicators to correctly design a Dashboard. It’ll be important that we define alerts, tresholds for them and the actions to perform upon each alert. Other characteristics that need to be defined are role defined accesses. For this task it’s quite recommended to count on a team that has experience defining processes on BAM tools, to accomplish the best conceptualization possible.
  2. Once we’ve defined the process, the next step should be configuring it on our BAM system
  3. After the configuration process is done, said configuration should be deployed onto the tool in order to begin monitoring.
  4. It’s only then when our configuration will begin to be executed and we can begin to analyze our process’ functions.
  5. Monitoring the process itself will be one of the most important stages in BAM methodology. It’ll be quite important to pay attention in order to adjust tresholds, delete indicators or add new ones, and see the system’s behavior while it’s executing the actions that have been defined.
  6. As we’ve previously mentioned, one of the main characteristics of Business Activity Monitoring systems is prediction and/or learning. In this monitoring we must make sure if our tool starts to “learn” from our process and that it adjusts based on events that’ve happened.
  7. The next action we need to perform will be checking that the alert system works properly.
  8. Finally we must feed the BAM back with whatever was learnt in the previous cycle and redefube our process in order to start again.

 BAM Characteristics

On the command console all functions of the BAM tools will be defined, at the same time providing all the information retrieved by the Business Activity Monitoring instruments using key performance indicators (KPI). KPI’s help measure and quantify the process’ performance based on the objectives posed for the different activities the company performs. Plus, its a means for directives and manager to communicate strategic objectives that are meant to be accomplished with the development of monitored activities.

BAM works as an intermediate layer between those responsible for the business and the information flow present in the entire business process.

Below we list the main characteristics that a Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) tool should have. This will result quite useful when evaluating a tool for your organization.

  • It must be capable of giving information and updating the dashboard in real time.
  • It should have a learning and AI system that allows the system to recommend steps to follow in decision making. For example, it should be capable of identifying tendencies and warning about them.
  • It should have the possibility to provide a bottom-up view in such a way that the user who accesses the control panel can also access process-level information (bottlenecks, inbound payments, etc.) and system level information (network failure, server memory full, device switched off, etc.).
  • The BAM tool must be able to integrate with any kind of third party application easily. It must be kept in mind that during a process many applications from different developers can intervene, and our tool must be capable of accessing relevant information on all of them.
  • It must have the capacity to correlate events and take action based on those events.
  • High scaling. Our tool will begin to monitor more important processes but, as we learn to use it and discover its advantages, more and more processes will be introduced into the tool.

For this reason, we should evaluate how load growth is withstood by the tool.

  • Configure roles and permissions, as well as dashboards that are defined by those roles.
  • Multichannel integrated alert system (SMS, push, email, etc.)
  • Possibility to store historic data to study evolution along time.
  • Report system. This is really important since the console has to allow not only showing data in a very clear way, but also it must have the possibility to generate understandable reports to be sent and analyzed by third persons.

Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) Architecture

Mainly, all BAM tools possess the following modules:

Modeling tool

Relevant when defining our processes, KPIs, thresholds, alarms, actions, etc.

BAM Core

It’s where the process configuration and their monitoring reside. For this reason, all events reach it and it’s the one that, based on configurations, sends events to the Event Manager (Complex Event Processor).

Complex Event Processor (CEP)

Receiver of all events and action or event generator, based on results from event processing.

Frontal Web

In charge of viewing anything occurred during the process.

Why use BAM? Advantages of Business Activity Monitoring

BAM tools not only monitor business processes, they previously monitor systems to be able to alert the users about possible bottlenecks, and offer them solutions. BAM tools are in charge of supervising all systems that affect the company’s activity development.

  • It can be used as a monitoring solution by IT administrators that would like to reduce IT environment costs at the same time that the service quality is improved. A tool to cover various needs.
  • Offers supervision on server management and critical business applications.
  • Shows the visibility requirements for business processes from end to end.
  • Provides the most information for decision making.
  • Minimizes operational risks
  • Prevents and corrects problems in real time.
  • Tendency analysis.
  • Reduces costs and raises margins, improves budget management when alerts are received for having surpassed the established budget.
  • Takes advantage of opportunities that appear during the business process in order to optimize efficiency.
  • Guarantees quality control when alerts are launched about materials that’ve failed an inspection.
  • Guarantees programmed maintenance, alerting the maintenance team if the maintenance programming has been accomplished or not.
  • Performs follow-ups on materials and deliveries.
  • Optimizes work tasks, if a task’s duration time is surpassed operations is alerted in order to reassign resources.

 

Uses for Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)

In this section we’ll tell you about some uses where BAM tools are applied so you may have an idea on how they can help your business. Some of the practical applications for BAM tools can be generated in various company departments such as:

Accounting:

  • Monitoring on account balances and alert sending when the established balance is broken or if thresholds are surpassed.
  • Notifies clients when their bills are due or overdue.
  • Notifies the accounting department  if a new account is added to the system.

Operations:

  • Monitors inventory levels.
  • Notifies the storage manager when material is below necessary quantity.
  • Monitors fields such as expire dates, client data, etc.

Sales and marketing:

  • Notifies when an order has has been attended or sent off from storage.
  • Notifies clients when there products or services are available.
  • Automatically sends bills when the process finishes.

Human Resources:

  • Supervises employee payrolls.
  • Monitors vacations and other employee benefits.
  • Notifies employees about events that affect company activity, such as holidays.

Risks:

  • Follow up on credit card transactions to avoid possible frauds.

We hope this article has been useful, if you have information that can be added here, don’t doubt on commenting!

MonitoringNetworkNetwork Monitoring

Best Network Tools to manage your network

March 13, 2017 — by Javier3

network-tools-featured.png

Best Network Tools to manage your network

network tools featured image
Today, we’re going to bring you a compilation of all those network tools you should know about in order to correctly manage your networks. Many of these network tools have been around for some time, but they all continue evolving  and are still used in productive environments. They’re free, or at least have an open version. On another note, we’d be delighted to receive new proposals for us to evaluate and add to the list. Drop your commentaries letting us know which network tools you think are the best, and which of those you’d add to our list. We want to hear from you!

Network toolkit

In this section we’ll tell you about the most important open or free network tools that you should add to your network toolkits to better manage your net. Please keep in mind that some of these can offer enterprise editions.

MonitoringNetworkNetwork MonitoringPandora FMS

Network monitor: all you need to know

March 6, 2017 — by Javier0

network-monitor-featured.png

network monitor featured

Network monitor with Pandora FMS

In this article we’re going to take a look at the main characteristics that a network monitor should have, their pros and cons, and how to know if it’s time to install one to oversee your company’s network. Plus, we’ll talk about the specific network monitor, Pandora FMS, a network monitor operating since October 2004 (first public release).

Pandora FMS offers both an open source version and an Enterprise version, which can be expanded with many other features according to a company’s needs.

Network MonitoringPandora FMSServer Monitoring

Server monitoring: a small guide with the best practices you need to know

March 2, 2017 — by Javier5

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Small guide of best practices for server monitoring

The best practices for server monitoring begin much before the moment at which we choose or deploy a tool. It’s not about fixed guidelines, rather a way of working and understanding how to use a monitoring software. All this can be applied to any software, be that Tivoli, OpenView, Spectrum, Zabbix, Nagios, Pandora FMS or ZenOSS.

Some monitoring tools will be more flexible and allow the process to be easier to apply and others will force us to do things their way, stopping them from adapting to our philosophy. Throughout our many years of experience with different types of companies working with different applications, we’ve created a small guide for good server monitoring practices, an idea we hope will help you in your daily work.

server monitoring

Phase 1. Identifying issues when they happen

Identify your assets
This includes all that which can be monitored. You should establish a hierarchy since there are relations between different items. For example, the relation between key items such as databases and the systems they feed. A failure in the DB will affect everything else, and it’s just one of the things you should bear in mind.

Identify what needs to be monitored and what doesn’t
How is this done? by establishing priorities. Add to that list a new column that is labeled ‘priority’. This will help you start since there is a chance that hundreds of items that need monitoring will come up. You should begin by what’s really critical or high priority.

If you have a security policy, you can “cannibalize” that list since on it you’ll find things as important as business databases, backups and critical infrastructure systems. All these items should be the first to be monitored.

Classify your assets
Once you have the list and a priority field for each item, focus on critically importan items and those related to them. For example, a critical database will depend on a base system, that will at the same time have memory, hard drives and a CPU. All these items can be considered critical because of their “direct relation” with the main item.

You can create an item hierarchy that will allow you to further understand how they are related amongst themselves, for example:

server monitoring best practices

Translated into something purely technical, this could be written as:

● Accessible service verification (TCP port or WEB transaction).
● Application process that is active, RAM/CPU resources.
● CPU resource consumption from the base OS, amount of available RAM on the base OS and available disk space on the base OS.
● General device status: load average, network traffic…
● Basic device connectivity (ping)

This should be grouped into a single item so that a “simple glance” will allow you to easily view the necessary information. There are many ways to group this information: according to service, technology or origin (node/agent), everything will depend on whether the service is more or less complex and forms part of cluster or not. In any case, each application has different ways to do this. On Pandora FMS it can be done using services, groups or tags.

Define what to do when there is a problem.
This point usually passes by unnoticed and it’s essential to having the best server monitoring practices. What good is it if we detect problems, even before they occur, if we don’t notify them efficiently? Monitoring for a complex environment can be a very long process, even using an exception-based management system (event-based management) we suffer the risk of not identifying urgent issues quick and efficiently.

We already have a list of high priority services, and the items they include, the next step in our best practices for monitoring is that of identifying a responsible person that can act quickly when a problem occurs. Here we can choose the notification method (email, SMS, emerging window in the app) and the degree of scaling, based on the item affected in the service, or how recurrent the alert is. In summary, we’ll notify an operator when the service’s base system CPU is overloading, and in case that person doesn’t reply we’ll send an SMS alert to the person responsible for the service.

Categorize alerts
It’s very important to define which alerts we want to unveil and their category, with the goal to avoid alerting users unnecessarily, and so our support team knows what priority to apply to each type of alert. At first we could classify our alerts into the following groups: Critical, Warning and Message.

At this point we’ve already gone over three key ideas: numbering the assets, classifying services and priorities and defining who will be responsible and their communication methods. All this is done using a simple spreadsheet so, up until now, all these good practices for monitoring are actually useful for any monitoring tool. Dedicating time to doing this before applying the monitoring process will ensure the following: 

  1. It’ll avoid overseeing the monitoring of relevant items on our systems. This means that when there’s any issues we can be sure that nothing really bad can happen without us being aware of it. This is one of the most important things, since it’ll allow us to “trust” our own monitoring. There is nothing worse than something bad happening and realizing that it was our fault for not monitoring it.
  2. When something bad happens, we’ll have data pertaining to the issue that is accessible and easy to interpret  because we decided to retrieve information from the entire service and not do it in an isolated manner. This will help determine the cause of the problem (root cause analysis) in a natural way, defined by ourselves, independent from the supposed magic some developers offer.
  3. When a problem occurs, the involved parties will already be implicated and informed. We won’t waste time informing about the issue, rather we’ll work directly on a solution.
  4. Offer only the necessary information. This is especially important considering that if we have an entire screen filled with red icons, mixing irrelevant alerts with critical alerts, it’ll take us a long time to determine the origin of the problem and our answer will not be as quick or efficient. Excessive information can be even more harming than the lack of it.

Once a work method has been defined, this method can be applied to deconstruct the main issue (the entire organization’s monitoring) into parts, like any competent engineer would do: we can do this by services, priority, technology, departments, geographic locations, etc.

phase 2. Identifying problems before they happen.

Once we have the basic idea down–identifying without a shadow of a doubt when something wrong happens–in a second phase we can face something much more difficult: determining when a problem is near. This feature, along with the one meant to detect the cause of an issue automatically and the one meant to configure monitoring tools automatically (smart thresholds, dynamic monitoring, event correlations, big data monitoring, etc.) are some of the most sought out features on any monitoring software product.

In our search for having the best server monitoring practices we must be very wary of false positives or negatives, which will start to come up when we allow the system to interpret the data. These results can lead us to misinterpreting a complex situation and take the wrong decisions in turn. All operators develop a basic instinct with time, based on their knowledge of whats normal and what’s not, they cannot say that something is wrong, but they can have the intuition that something is not right.

With this we want to insist on the fact that no one yet has achieved total automation and we always recommend our users and customers to think calmly before making a decision, and not to gamble to heavily on extreme automation, which can lead to different mistakes that will only come out when we have a problem in our installations and it may be too late to fix it by then.

Monitoring by intuition is a term that hasn’t been heard yet, not even from Gartner analysts, but it’ll all come around.

What does intuitive monitoring consist of?

There are two ways of going along with it: the pseudo automated way or the purely visual way. In the first one, we’ll define small alerts that advise us when something leaves the “normal” operational thresholds. This doesn’t mean that they enter into “harmful” or error thresholds, simply they go into values that are different to what is contemplated as “normal”. For this we must create an alert category, as we mentioned in the first phase, that leaves no margin for misunderstanding that these abnormalities are not an issue, rather just something suspicious, erasing the concept of “criticality” in them. This is meant so in case there are many events of all types, these can be hidden from the general view with ease if necessary.

The other way is to create dashboards or displays (each tool has its own way to label it) that have to serve the purpose of putting up a group of real time graphs on a really big screen, in order for all people to have the same information. An operator that is always looking at the same displays, in the same order, with time develops the ability to tell when something isn’t right.

The necessary tools

Without getting into specific applications, what will be discussed here are features that are essential at the time of applying any useful monitoring processes for an organization that takes the operation seriously.

Some indispensable items for any software that claims to give value are:

Alerts. They must allow for scaling, include item groups (correlation) and allow users to define complex tasks (apart from sending an email or SMS notification). Now that many organizations work with collaborative tools (such as Slack or Mattermost), the ability to insert an event into a group, including a graph and a description of the issue, along with a direct link to the monitoring scheme, allows for a much quicker response than a simple SMS alert would.
Graphs. Graphs should be a tool, not something static. This means that they have to be able to be filtered, pressed, they must be able to be combined dynamically with other data series, show the detailed evolution throughout large periods of time which can be compared to values in similar intervals from prior months, etc. Graphs are the main source of numerical analysis we have available. A graph provides a lot of information in a very easy to interpret way. A system with static graphs can be very aesthetically pleasing, but it’s not useful.
Logs. The following step when approaching an issue or suspected problem is to analyze raw information. This can simply be done through data charts or raw data that’s being introduced to the system (log registries). In case this data is missing, we are then limited to graphs and events.
Direct access to the source. This exceeds what the monitoring system does in general but, if we have precise information (alerts), data strings that help us understand the behaviour (graphs) and precise data that helps narrow down our analysis (logs), the next logical step is to directly access the system that generates all that information. The fact that a monitoring tool allows us to access that system easily simply closes the cycle.

We hope this article on good server monitoring practices has given you more of an idea on how to carry out a good monitoring process. For any doubts, comments or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be delighted to reply to your questions. 

Cloud MonitoringMonitoring

Cloud Monitoring: What you need to know

December 20, 2016 — by Javier0

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cloud-monitoring

Migrating their services to the cloud has brought great changes to companies and their IT infrastructure operations, and at a pace which has left decision-makers without time to define a clear post-migration strategy. Meanwhile, SLAs still have to be respected irrespective of if the operation is cloud-based, host-based or housed in the company’s own data center. The problems are the same; fails, performance degradation, security issues, only more complicated.

Many monitoring tools that have managed to keep the pace over the last decade find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to integrating with hybrid environments requiring flexibility, and rapid response times. The shift to the cloud has left many tools struggling to adapt to change.

The present article is an attempt to outline some basic but necessary concepts to keep in mind if your company is thinking of migrating services to the cloud; does your organization require cloud monitoring? what do you need to evaluate?; what is the cloud? And finally, monitoring, our favorite topic, but this time focused on the cloud and monitoring the services you have there. Many clients leave the cloud monitoring part of the operation to the cloud host, not realizing that outsourcing such an essential part of your operation can occasion headaches down the line.

Cloud Monitoring. Before we begin…

  • Take it for granted that everyone has different ideas and expectations about what the cloud is and what it can do. The cloud is an ever-changing concept
  • Some people have some extreme opinions about the pros and cons of cloud-based tech. Take radical opinions with a pinch of salt
  • Avoid simplifications: the cloud is a complicated thing to define, and even more so to implement
  • First and foremost is your business, not technical questions. In the final analysis, the cloud is another tool, therefore, why shouldn’t you implement a cloud monitoring?

Ten myths about The Cloud

  1. The Cloud will always save you money.
  2. If you’re not in The Cloud, you’re a loser.
  3. The Cloud should be used for everything.
  4. Wise CEOs advise going to The Cloud.
  5. A single strategy and a single provider is all you need to be on The Cloud.
  6. The Cloud is less safe than on-site premises.
  7. The Cloud is not for critical services.
  8. The Cloud is just a big, virtual database.
  9. Migrating to The Cloud means a wholesale move, no half-measures.
  10. Virtualization is the same as having a private cloud service.

The 5 most common mistakes when migrating to the cloud

Forgetting how important the connectivity between the cloud and other infrastructures is. Not measuring the connectivity capacity or monitoring the SLA of those connections can lead to serious service shortfalls.

Thinking that the cloud works by itself. You’ll contract the infrastructure but not the parallel services, making it all too easy to lose oversight of your operation and limit your service.

Not having a crisis-plan in place. How will an unexpected service fail on the part of our provider affect our operation? Does being on The Cloud worsen the impact of outages? The easy promise of The Cloud lulls many into forgetting the need to consider crisis drills, and to have a plan in place. The Cloud carries connotations of omnipotence; it’s not. Even the almighty Amazon has suffered cloud computing failure and downtime. Are you more prepared than Amazon?

Assuming your provider is impenetrable. Don’t do it. If your provider has a security issue, it’s a problem for you, possibly even with legal ramifications if your own clients are affected. Were you this exposed before you were on The Cloud?

Thinking that virtuality and real-world tech give the same performance. They don’t. Not in terms of disc access or CPU capacity. In crisis situations it’s better to have hands-on access to hardware. Don’t believe otherwise.

Thinking that change is cheap. Your TCOs are still there, they’re just hidden in costs like training, and the experiential costs you pay for migrating to a complex service, made up of different elements, and which can end up converting your operation into something quite different.

Are you ware of the relevance of a good cloud monitoring after reading those common mistakes? Then, keep reading.

Delegating your monitoring to The Cloud

If you think moving your infrastructure to the cloud will mean you won’t have to maintain or monitor it, too bad. Your infrastructure might not be a worry anymore but your customers are going to expect the same level of service, or more, now that they know you’re in The Cloud. Monitoring your service, your customer experience, your process through flows, are all more important than ever, and your cloud monitoring tool should still be doing its customary tasks of checking all those things, and locating where any problems might be occurring even though your infrastructure is cloud-based. Since no-one knows your business as well as you do, no-one can offer you the service you want out of the box. You still have to configure the metrics for the elements and components you want to monitor.

Cloud-specific monitoring tools

Amazon, Microsoft, OpenStack, Google, CloudStack-all the big players-offer their own services, including monitoring. All very well for checking on their service provision, but will their tools be as adapted to your business as you would like?

Given the diversity of information inputs it would be nice to have a tool that can adapt to what’s already out there and what’s still to come. Many manufacturers offer plugins in order to integrate with distinct platforms, but that is short-term thinking, as each platform amplifies its APIs and imposes restrictions and/or conditions as and when they please. To take an example, the majority of manufacturers offer metrics which don’t stray too far from the infrastructure itself, EC2, VPC, and S3 in AWS, instances, drives, Azure sites, machine status, images, storage (OpenStack, VMware). These infrastructure metrics are the same as the ones you get from installing agents on your machines, meaning they don’t need integrating, they can just be left to get on with their usual tasks, as always.

Hybrid environments

Most organizations have ever more fragmented environments, both in technologies and distribution. If the plan is to integrate monitoring among your private infrastructure, private internal cloud and private outsourced cloud, private cloud hosting, public cloud and SaaS you’re going to need a plethora of connectors, hours of your technician’s time and it’s never going to stop needing retuning due to constant reconfiguration of parameters. Keeping it simple, with your systems under the oversight of a single tool is imperative to avoid oversegmenting your infrastructure. In the case of oversegmentation it’s advisable to take the following into consideration.

Infrastructure monitoring vs service monitoring

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to monitor the services which all these infrastructures employ? Independently of the technology deployed, and covering the most important area (the service), down to the specific nuts and bolts (the infrastructure components supporting the service).

Despite Pandora FMS  being able to integrate with the main cloud and virtualization tech providers (Amazon, Vmware), we don’t recommend this approach to our clients. Our transaction monitoring tool, combined with the deployment of remote probes and classic agents allows us to offer more adaptive monitoring which is also less dependent on the specific technology you’re using to do business.

Pros of Pandora FMS in hybrid environments

  • Doesn’t depend on cloud infrastructure or tech
  • Oriented to measuring the final service
  • Adaptability
  • Customizable service reports
  • Speedy implementation

What do you think? Has this article been helpful? If you have an opinion about cloud monitoring we’re interested in hearing it

MonitoringPandora FMS

KPIs in Logistics

December 1, 2016 — by Javier0

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Processes related with logistic enterprises are known to be some of the most difficult to monitor due to the number of elements that must be watched, their geographic movements and the different statuses or stages the different elements go through.

With Pandora FMS we’ve faced monitoring various logistic processes and have acquired a large amount of experience on necessary KPIs which are really useful in logistics. We’re conscious of the fact that each logistic process has its own characteristics and must apply different particularities for its monitoring. But, we also know that some processes don’t even have basic KPIs under monitoring. For this reason, through this brief article, we want to give the main hues so you can know the main KPIs to measure in your logistics process.

Monitoring

PANDORA FMS review by RedesZone

November 4, 2016 — by Javier0

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pandora-fms-review

Back in February of this year we reached out to Ruben Velasco, editor at RedesZone, one of the most important Spanish-language sites dealing with networks, to give him a tour of Pandora FMS, our flagship product. For a while we’d been reading their interesting articles about networks and monitoring and we wanted to meet them and get their opinion on Pandora FMS.

Here at Pandora FMS we’re always looking for people to collaborate with on our software, whether it be in a hands-on capacity or with their ideas, and help us to continue to compete nationally and internationally. That’s why we started the Pandora FMS Ambassadors Project back at the beginning of 2016, as a way to listen to monitoring specialists who would like to contribute to Pandora FMS.

EnterpriseMonitoringNetwork MonitoringPandora FMSSystem Monitoring

Is it worth installing a monitoring system: a cost analysis

October 26, 2016 — by Javier3

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For some companies it can be difficult to put a monetary value on a monitoring service, especially if that company has never experienced a serious network or system failure. In the balance between cold, hard cash and a bunch of hypothetical variables which it’s your sysadmin’s job to sort out, you might be tempted to think it’s not an essential investment. On the other hand, if you’ve ever had a server go down due to monitorable elements misbehaving (overloaded data drives, security breaches), or experienced a non-functioning application slowing down your procurement process, you know how much business can be lost before the problem is diagnosed and your network is up and running again.

We’re going to attempt to formulate an equation to calculate the benefits of having a monitoring system in place. Not just any monitoring system, but our own multi-tasking monitoring application, Pandora FMS; equally at home monitoring HW and infrastructure, applications, servers and business processes, among its bag of tricks. The more of your network Pandora FMS is monitoring, the greater the benefits will be, but for now let’s just focus on network monitoring.

Before we begin let’s just take a quick look at what we mean by a network monitoring system, and how a business or organization could be affected by a network outage.

What is a network monitoring system?

Briefly put, it’s a system, or software tool, capable of observing all the different components of a network, both software and hardware, and reporting on their status and activity with the objective of avoiding incidents before they happen, or, if something does happen, to provide a solution.

So, for example, Pandora FMS can take highly abstract information, like the activity inside a network, and represent it graphically, giving you a clearer view of what’s happening. This information can be further segmented and grouped to give information about the different OSs installed, or the bandwidth they’re occupying, about the availability of your website, or the status of your servers, all delivered through a configurable dashboard. Most importantly, the system generates alerts, according to the parameters established by the user, which warn us of any changes in the elements or components being monitored.

Now we know a little more about what a monitoring system can do, let’s take a look at the different areas of our organization which could be affected by not having a monitoring system installed, and try to put a cash value on them.

Areas affected by not having a monitoring system

Human Resources and Financial Resources

Employees are often said to be the most valuable asset of any company, but that manpower comes at a cost.

System Administration team

How big is it? How many workers do we have checking on our network, and solving incidents? How much is our system administration costing us? A quick look at the payroll should give us our answer. Are the employees working around the clock to keep an eye on the network? Are they working with an outdated legacy system, requiring specialist knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of that system? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to automate that service, or to export to a homogenous, integrated system, and have it maintained by an onsite technician with remote backup support?

Incident resolution time

Another function of a network monitoring system is to assist the people in charge of maintaining the system to detect and solve problems as quickly as possible, which, thanks to their mapping and analytical capabilities, monitoring systems are very efficient at doing.

Call Centers

If a company operates a call center, monitoring the availability of our network is imperative, since a lack of availability is going to seriously affect the quality of the service. A monitoring system capable of detecting and resolving possible availability issues is going to be able to maintain, or increase, the traffic at that center.

Other employees

If your email server is down, plenty of employees are going to be affected, productivity is going to decrease and business is going to be lost. And that’s just email. Imagine the number of applications any organization is running and you have an idea of what it costs for those applications to be down.

Advantages for businesses

There’s a direct relationship between the correct functioning of our network and our balance sheet; depending on the kind and size of company the impact of an outage will be greater or lesser, for example:

  • Online sales: obviously a business that relies on an internet connection is going to be affected by a network outage, not only financially but also their reputation is going to be affected as well, seeing as they were unable to provide a satisfactory customer experience.
  • Companies using internal software tools: Any company with a BackOffice system and employees working in incident resolution, orders, purchasing, customer attention and so on, is going to be at risk of some seriously costly downtime if there is an outage. Monitoring those internal software elements is going to save a lot of money, and our reputation, in the case of an incident.
  • Network-based client services: Telemarketers, telecommunications companies, multimedia services, and so on, rely completely on access to a network to provide those services.

Intangible values

These are values which are difficult to calculate, or put a cash value on, for example brand reputation. It isn’t easy to evaluate the value of a brand, but we know it decreases if it’s associated with any of the situations described above.

Associated costs of monitoring software

We’ve seen how a network outage can adversely affect a company’s or business’s bottom line, either through loss of sales, downtime or damage to the brand reputation. Now it’s time to look at the costs of acquiring a network monitoring tool. Even an open source tool, such as Pandora FMS, has some costs associated with its installation and configuration which will form part of the equation we’re trying to work out. The chief costs are:

  • Licensing costs, in the case of Enterprise versions
  • Maintenance costs, and the cost of the internal support team. These costs will be higher if the software isn’t backed up by an external support team, who can give valuable help with the initial installation, and any subsequent upgrade installations, new releases and new functions, incident resolution, etc.
  • HW and SW storage for the monitoring tool.
  • Training in the use of the tool.
  • Consultation and/or post-sales services.

Calculating the ROI

One of the principal functions of a monitoring system is to detect problems in the network, and launch alerts to avoid any collapse or loss of availability.

Different manufacturers have different ways to calculate cost-savings based on having their monitoring systems installed, but there are so many variables and hypotheticals involved that a really accurate calculation is almost impossible to make.

The simplest evaluation to calculate is to look at the impact on employees of a network outage using the following parameters:

NT = Number of times there has been an outage in the past year

AD = The average duration of the outage

EA= Employees affected

CE = Cost of maintaining an idle employee

TOTAL LOSS = (NT * AD) * EA * CE

In the hypothetical case of a medium-size company of 100 employees

If the company experiences six outages a year, with an average duration of three hours each, affecting a third of the employees (33) and costing $25/hour we get the following result:

(6 * 30) * 33 * 25 = $148,500/year in losses due to outages, without taking into account any loss of sales or damage to the brand.

Does my organization need a monitoring system?

We’ve seen how it’s possible to get a rough estimate of the cost on our business of network non-availability and the usefulness of consulting with potential suppliers the viability and benefits of monitoring systems.

What to keep in mind when deciding which network monitoring tool is the right one for our needs

Installing a network monitoring tool is vital if we want to avoid losses related to network issues, and dedicate our employees’ time to more productive tasks. However, not every system is going to be the right one; the right tool for the job should be our motto, so keep in mind:

  • You should be able to deploy and configure your chosen tool rapidly and easily
  • It should be simple to maintain
  • It shouldn’t have any hidden costs

Keep in mind that as your business grows your monitoring system should be able to grow with it. It’s what we mean when we talk about scalability; the ability to incorporate new functions and new elements to monitor without implying an increase in the licensing fee.

Hidden costs can be taken to mean using an open source version rather than an Enterprise package. With open source there are no license fees, but there’s a higher cost in terms of the expert manpower needed to oversee the system. Keeping a high-level systems engineer on the payroll is always going to be more costly than having an integrated and supported package requiring only a systems administrator to keep an eye on things.

Hopefully, some readers will now have a better idea of the cost-saving potential of network monitoring, which, if we factor in other levels of monitoring, such as server, application or process monitoring, can only result in even more time and money saved.

EnterpriseNetwork MonitoringPandora FMSServer Monitoring

13 Reasons why Pandora FMS Enterprise is the Best Bet for your Company

October 3, 2016 — by Javier2

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We believe we have one of the most powerful open source monitoring software on the market. For this reason, there are more and more users are installing and using our free, open source version. Here we will show you the main differences between Pandora fms community vs enterprise.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re curious and are asking yourself what else Pandora FMS can do for you and your business. Let’s list the virtues of Pandora to help you decide whether you need the Enterprise version or you can continue with the Community open source version. Next some key differences between Pandora FMS Community vs Enterprise will be showed.

Event Intelligence

So, your Pandora FMS starts to generate events and you want to be able to interpret them and act accordingly. Has it ever occurred to you that you can trigger certain actions based on specific events? This is called event intelligence. Pandora FMS Enterprise lets you take action based on multiple correlated events.

The most basic implementation of this is to define an alert for a type of problem, whether it takes place in a single agent or a group of a thousand. Imagine having a single alert for a thousand cases. How much time would you save? How much more simple would managing the system be?

Another case is the famous “root cause”. With correlation rules Pandora itself will tell you what’s going on, for example, if an application is not responding, but shows connectivity, the machine it’s running on is working, and also the database, then we can infer that the application must be restarted. Just one example among many.

Professional Reports

Would you like to automatically deliver Pandora FMS reports to your customers with customized covers, your logo, and according to a specific schedule? Would you like to do it through a system of templates that can do all of the above and save you even more time?

The Enterprise version is designed to make the most of your time.

Widget-Oriented Modular Dashboard

Do you think your Pandora FMS console is stuck in a rut? Would you like to customize it, incorporating the most important widgets or components and be able to see your monitorization status at a glance?

We know that many of our users not only monitor hundreds of machines but take advantage of Pandora FMS’s flexibility to monitor applications and business processes. This usually means there are more eyes on your Pandora FMS checking up on the status of the installation, applications and business processes. Would you like to configure the dashboard according to each user profile to show what each profile should see on your dashboard ?

Agentless monitoring, without limits

Have you discovered the power of agentless monitoring and want to apply it to as many agents as possible?
In the Enterprise version there are no limits when it comes to monitoring agentless nodes and you can deploy your monitor more efficiently. With the Enterprise version you can monitor all nodes that do not allow the installation of agents, deploying the satellite server that allows even more flexible remote monitoring. In addition, Enterprise network servers have up to 100 times more speed and capacity.

Virtualization infrastructure monitoring

The proliferation of virtual machines has driven us to include in monitoring all these machines. Your Pandora FMS Open is only able to monitor the virtual machines in your infrastructure, but, do you think this is enough to be sure that everything is going well? We have 300 virtual machines in perfect condition, but what if our infrastructure virtualization, which supports these 300 machines, starts to have problems?
With Pandora FMS Enterprise you can not only monitor each of your virtual machines, but you can monitor your infrastructure virtualization: VMware, EC2, HyperV, XEN, RHEV among others.

Commercially-proven plugin technology at work in production environments

One of the greatest strengths of Pandora FMS is that you can create your own plugins and monitor anything you can think of . But have you thought about how long it takes to develop all the plugins you need? Wouldn’t you like to save all this time and dedicate it to more important tasks?
With the Enterprise version you have access to all existing plugin technology for complex and specialized production:
JD Edwards, DB2, Informix, SAP, AS400, Z-OS, Oracle, Edi, SQL Server, WebLogic, Exchange, Websphere, IBM MQ, Notes, Sybase …

Centralization and automation

Are you tired of having to run manual scripts to deploy plugins and settings across your network? With Pandora FMS Enterprise you can save time and ensure 100% deployment with its console plugins distribution and configurations. With a single click you can display anything you want using hundreds of servers through policy management.

Transactional monitoring (web applications and desktop)

With the open version of Pandora FMS you can monitor virtually everything you want to at infrastructure, server and application level. But wouldn’t you like to be able to monitor the transactionality of your company from the point of view of your customer?
We have over twelve years of experience in monitoring, and we know that the closer we can monitor our client the sooner we can detect the problem and find a solution with the least possible impact.
Pandora FMS Enterprise lets you simulate a transaction, whether through corporate web portals, web client applications, intranets or heavy desktop applications.
With this functionality you can be more confident that your systems not only work, but your customer experience is right.

Complex business processes

We are confident that with your Open Pandora FMS version you have been able to monitor many elements of your infrastructure. But things are often not as simple as monitoring if a disk is full, or if an application works or if the server is up. In the real world, in companies like yours, there are complex processes that require that several steps be carried out over long periods of time, sometimes in parallel, with different execution times.
With Pandora FMS Enterprise you can monitor any process of your organization and show its status in your custom process views. Procurement, insurance or mortgage processes, product purchases, logistics distributions (EDI) and many more can be monitored in your Pandora.
Thanks to this feature of Pandora FMS Enterprise you will know if there are bottlenecks and slowdowns in your processes, and be able to take steps to streamline and optimize them; and many more advantages.

Cloud Monitoring

Migrating services to the cloud substantially reduces operating costs and many companies are opting for this type of solution.

Are you in the cloud? Are you thinking about moving your infrastructure to the cloud?

Your open version Pandora FMS can add to your monitor solely information from machines within the cloud infrastructure. However, with the Enterprise version you can manage the data of the cloud infrastructure and integrate it into a single centralized monitoring, and, furthermore, validate the level of your service provider.

Infinite horizontal scaling

Is your open Pandora FMS running at the limits of its capabilities? Would you like better performance? Do you face challenges where you prefer to trust to the proven ability of a commercial product rather than constantly having to “hack” open source software?
The Enterprise version can scale up to tens of thousands of devices, and performance in some environments can be improved 1000%. Not to mention, that with that level of commitment, professional support will avoid many upsets.

Patch updates and 100% secure upgrades

Good monitoring can prevent complicated situations before they arise. Service downs can be prevented, but if a monitoring system goes down? You’re driving blind. The Enterprise updates, unlike the community ones, must pass rigorous quality testing. These consist of several stages, including a testing operation performed manually. We offer direct support and support our customers when they update. What if I have a problem with a community update? Patches of the OpenSource version are automatically generated each week, although obviously, those tests are not equivalent to those of the Enterprise version.

Support and consulting

Did you know that with the Enterprise version you have direct access to developers and the Pandora FMS sales team? Our team will not only help to resolve any questions you have and help you take the best decision, but they can also perform consulting improvements your monitor and perform the best kind of monitoring for your business. We don’t offer support or advice to the community version, because we are always working with long-term commitments.

We hope that after reading this article you may have a clearer idea of whether or not your business needs the Enterprise version. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to discuss it in the post and we will happily respond.

Network MonitoringServer MonitoringSystem Monitoring

Cacti vs Nagios vs Pandora FMS, in depth

September 29, 2016 — by Javier5

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Cacti, Nagios and Pandora FMS are three monitoring applications with three different approaches: Cacti is focused on graphics, Nagios on status and Pandora FMS covers both, among other functions. If you are familiar with RRDTool or MRTG, Cacti expands on that philosophy: for example, if you have a data source, you can create a graph with that data. If you have various data sources, you can combine them. Cacti started out with that philosophy and has evolved from there: creating graphs from data, which, it must be said, it does very well, as can be seen in the graphs below.

Traditionally, Cacti was used to create graphics, and Nagios to manage status and create alerts. Which is not to say that Cacti cannot create alerts, nor that Nagios has no graphical capabilities, but in both cases these are add-ons. Pandora FMS, meanwhile, was conceived and designed to execute both functions.

In this article we’re going to take a look at some different monitoring tools, make some comparisons and put them to the test in order to help our community on this blog take the decision of installing a monitoring tool on their own system.

Cacti vs Nagios vs Pandora FMS: The global picture

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms

Data Storage and Management

Cacti uses RRDTool to manage data, storing the information as numerical data in temporal series. However, it is not designed to work as a conventional database, which limits its use outside of its graphics capabilities, and impedes comparison of data from different sources, a drawback not experienced with Pandora FMS, nor with Nagios, provided it has the relevant add-ons.

This is not to say Cacti does not use a relational database, only that it uses it to save information related to graphics and reports, among other functions, but not to store or process the graphic information it generates.

Cacti, Nagios and Pandora FMS: Network Monitoring

Cacti developed out of MRTG (Multi-Router Traffic Graphing), in order to measure router traffic via SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and was later expanded to measure any information transmitted through an SNMP interface, and ultimately, any information that returns numeric data (network traffic, lost packets, CPU process time on a server, and so on).

Monitoring a network is more than measuring broadband consumption, counting lost packets, or measuring network latency. Fundamentally, we are checking for pings.

Moreover, self-discovery, system detection and topological mapping are common requirements for any network monitoring software, primarily at L2 (data link level). Furthermore, in sizeable environments, it is necessary to receive status and performance reports via asynchronous monitoring based on receiving SNMP traps, and to generate network traffic statistics working with NetFlow to visualize consumption in real time, with information proceeding from routers, and according to user-generated filters.

Cacti is only able to perform a reduced portion of these functions, due to a lack of capacity to detect a network link collapse, or to explore a network, and much less to create a network map. Nor can it receive traps or work with NetFlow.

Regarding Nagios; its initial function was to detect if a host was down, and little by little additions were introduced, although it is far from providing all the functions which a complete network monitoring system requires. Traps management is basic, and mapping is not customizable, and only works at network level. Furthermore, measuring information through graphs is only possible via third-party plugins. Nagios, however, unlike Cacti, is compatible with NetFlow.

Pandora FMS covers all these functions, and is particularly effective in the area of network discovery and mapping levels 2 and 3. The traps management system is similar to that of CA Spectrum or BMC Patrol, and is able to process dynamic variables in traps with various bindings, generating visual data modules, and alerts or events from single specific values in a trap variable. Furthermore, Pandora FMS can generate graphics of traffic consumption in an SNMP interface, monitor latency, service availability, etc.

Nagios

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms network map nagios

Pandora FMS

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms network map pandorafms

Cacti vs. Nagios vs. Pandora FMS regarding Event Management

Or the monitoring of all events throughout an IT infrastructure, and the keeping of a record of events and incidents as they occur, are resolved or remain pending.

If a monitoring tool detects an incident this triggers an event, and another event is triggered when the incident is corrected. An event is also triggered when the system detects new elements, or in case of an alert, or in the case of reconfiguration. Event management therefore serves as the initial point of investigation as to why an incident has occurred, and also provides a history of the incident.

This technology is standard in the business world, where software programs such as HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, BMC Patrol o CA Spectrum, Pandora FMS and ZenOSS are all used for event management. However, neither Nagios or Cacti can perform all of these functions, despite Nagios having incorporated an event history function, as this function cannot provide a full monitoring service, being merely a record of the event, without the correlation, auto-validating or monitor streaming capabilities of the above mentioned software.

Nagios

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms events nagios

Pandora FMS

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms events pandora fms

Decentralization and Management Distribution

Both Pandora FMS and Nagios have the problem of having to obtain information from networks which are inaccessible to the main server. Nagios gets around this through its agent catalog, while Pandora FMS features a server specifically designed to function independently, to monitor, explore and detect high performance networks (more than 50,000 devices running through each autonomous server. Furthermore, Pandora FMS features specific tools for distributed network environments, such as Export Server, Metaconsola and backup servers. As for Nagios, it can be installed distributed network environments, although it requires multiple third-party tools to make this possible. Unfortunately, despite the number of plugins available, the catalog is badly maintained due to its open source nature and not having a company dedicated to maintaining or managing the extensive library of plugins.

Plugins and out-of-the-box monitoring

As mentioned, Nagios requires numerous plugins to offer a complete range of services, as does Cacti, with a much smaller catalog of plugins and extensions available, making it incompatible with standard business software such as Oracle, Exchange, Active Directory, Informix, SAP and others. Pandora FMS’s plugin library is much smaller than that of Nagios (fewer than 500), but it has the great advantage of having a company behind it to provide maintenance and management. Despite some of the third-party offers not being free, they are focused on providing real-world solutions to daily situations. The open version of Pandora FMS comes with a collection of ready-to-use plugins and modules, for basic tasks, whether with agents or for remote diagnostics. It also incorporates an SNMP explorer and various wizard SNMP and WMI to remotely monitor network teams and servers.

Cacti has an ingenious system of templates which allows it to reuse the definition of a type of source and use it massively, which simplifies its deployment in similar environments, although its usefulness is limited to the kind of homogenous environment we already know.

Network monitoring with Nagios implies having to get used to struggling with hundreds of personalized scripts, which, when completed, someone else will transform into black magic. Its very complicated to work with collaboratively, resulting in Nagios being an unwieldy combination of software and custom development.

To get the most out of Nagios, between four and five add-ons are required (check_mk, HighCharts, OMD, NRPE, NSCA, ndoutils, thruk, nagvis), plus other complex projects, such as puppet, and thousands of lines of one’s own script, in order to manage configurations. All of which makes Pandora FMS a much more independent solution.

User Community

Nagios: the first one on the scene, and with the largest community, with an almost infinite number of forks: OpsView, Op5, Centreon, Icinga, Naemon, Shinken. The community is inevitably a little chaotic when it comes to implementing plugins, and P2P tool-sharing. Each offshoot of Nagios has a different focus, which, over time, has led to issues of incompatibility among the different branches and with the original project.

Cacti has a forum, and a repository of plugins and extensions which cover the majority of the functions not included in the original software and which are maintained and updated by the users themselves. It is a widely-used system, with a variety of device templates related to network equipment.

Finally, the Pandora user community is small but compact. At least a third of the modules library is generated and maintained by the community itself, and there are forums that are continually growing. Furthermore, Pandora FMS has a community of business-users whose requests to improve specific aspects of the software, contribute to its development and improvement, and to its application in many different areas of enterprise.

Management and Configuration

One of Cacti’s notable features, when considered from a professional perspective, is the absence of group profiling, which makes it inappropriate for working with operators, clients and managers. User role management is straightforward, consisting of assigning permission to each user, via resource graphic

The user profiling system of both Nagios and Pandora FMS is more powerful, allowing integration, in Pandora FMS’s case, of users in Active Directory, Ldap or SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), reducing the number of functions of specific users, or even defining which parts of a node are accessible to a user (all functions unavailable on Nagios).

Management on Cacti is achieved via creating data sources, based on scripts, and/or SNMP, graph management, user generation and little else. Most of the low-level work performed using Cacti is done at the keyboard, editing files of text.

There is a seemingly infinite number of plugins available for Nagios dedicated to improving aspects of its management, many of them with proprietary interfaces and even their own licensing systems, which tends to make managing Nagios something akin to trying to interpret an ever-changing collage in real time. Confusing, to say the least. Not to mention that Nagios generally requires extensive personalization from the shell, editing file configurations.

Furthermore, Nagios, and various recent forks, including Naemon, still use CGIs written in C, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it does makeit complicated to expand on it, or to make improvements. Even the most basic change requires patching and manual compiling, and bear in mind that the Nagios ecosystem is a hodge-podge of patches on each different fork, and every time you want to reconfigure it you have to restart.

Pandora FMS, on the other hand, is completely homogenous and coherent in this aspect. Plugins, extensions and third-party tech are seamlessly mounted in the interface. 99% of management is done via the WEB console, without ever having to touch a file or the shell.

Dashboards

While basically absent in Cacti, Pandora FMS and Nagios both entertain the concept of a customizable dashboard, which in Nagios is possible with the nagvis plugin. In Pandora the same plugin comes as standard, and it could be said that it is the software which provides the best results.

Nagios

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms graph nagios

Pandora FMS

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms dashboard pandora fms

Cacti

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms graph cacti

These kinds of screens are not available on Cacti, although there are extensions that permit visualization of graphs in grids and charts, but can’t show status or values, very far removed from what one can achieve with Nagios or Pandora FMS.

Reports

The standard of reports which Nagios is capable of generating is quite low, while Cacti doesn’t even feature any kind of report function: the most it can do are stacked graphs. However, a few plugins are available which perform similar functions to the report software available on Nagios. Keep in mind that, unlike Pandora FMS, neither Nagios or Cacti operate under the philosophy that a report is a highly polished end product, something fit to be presented to a senior manager, an executive or a client. Even the opensource version of Pandora FMS comes with a powerful report generator , which allows customizable report creation, light years removed from the capabilities of Nagios or Cacti.

Pandora FMS

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms report s

Nagios

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms report nagios

Cacti with report plugin

cacti vs nagios vs pandora fms report cacti

Agent Software: Server Monitoring / APM

Some may believe that monitoring software based on agents is out of date, it remains true that powerful players, such as CA, HP or IBM sometimes cover up their remote technologies, passing them off as 100% agent-free, when really, what they are doing is making a copy of an agent, executing it, and later deleting it.

For many monitoring tasks, it’s still necessary to have an agent in the machine. Nagios has quite a few (NRPE, NCPA, NRDP, and others), which, like almost everything on the program, require a bit of DIY, and, in many cases, are out of date and poorly maintained. The use of different agents within the same program is consistent with the Nagios philosophy.

Cacti doesn’t feature agents or anything like it (as is the case with ZenOSS), while Pandora FMS has far and away the most powerful agents of any of the software under consideration here. If we make a technical comparison of the quantity and the quality of the functions of Nagios and Pandora FMS agents, we can see that it’s the latter which features the most complex functionalities integrated within the agent, such as collection of events in its native form, (using a fully compatible and speedy API derived from Windows NT4, totally distinct from WMI methods), inventory collection, watchdog services and processes, collection IRT of process and service incidents, native WMI user-interfacing, agent-integrated networks diagnostics, and many others that can’t be implemented via scripts or commands, as this implies that the agent works at a low level, rather than at user level.

Not being able to rely on agents limits server/application monitoring (both of performance and status management), being as they only use SNMP (remotely) and WMI, as a plugin.

The power of Pandora FMS’s agents allows them to execute auto-validation tasks, removing elements dynamically- depending on which host they are deployed in- generating information depending on the specific host system configuration, avoiding generic metrics, and compiling the most relevant information according to the circumstances.

Scalability

As the creators of Cacti say on the first page of their website, the software is intuitive, features many systems as standard and is suitable for LANs, and other networks connecting hundreds of devices.

All of which is to say that, what it does, it does very well, but it is not designed for networks of thousands of connected devices.

While it’s true that there are many well-known cases of Nagios being installed on dozens of nodes, it’s also fair to point out that there are no documented examples of clients with over 15,000 nodes featured on the Nagios website. Although Pandora FMS presents similar numbers, under laboratory conditions it has monitored up to 500,000 nodes. However, in real-world conditions, the most successful examples have been with clients with 15,000 nodes. Suffice to say that Nagios and Pandora FMS are leagues ahead of Cacti in this area.

Conclusions Nagios vs Cacti vs Pandora fms comparison

By now it should be clear where we stand (especially so, considering that this is a Pandora FMS blog!), although it must be said that we have been objective in our evaluations, testing the different under laboratory conditions and seeking always to be impartial in our considerations.

Hopefully this article will have been of use to anyone considering installing a monitoring software on their system.

Patches

Security risk in Percona

September 13, 2016 — by Javier0

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Hi All!

Again, we anounce a vulnerability detected by Percona. We have reported from Percona the solution to a security problem found in all Percona server versions. Information to this problem can be found at the following link: https://www.percona.com/blog/2016/09/12/percona-server-critical-update-cve-2016-6662/

To solve it you must upgrade your version of Percona installed on all Pandora servers.

In Centos / Redhat systems to upgrade their Percona MySQL server run the following command:

– Yum update Percona *

If not having access to Percona online repositories, make sure you have one of the following installed versions which already mitigated the error:

Percona Server 5.5.51-38.1
Percona Server 5.6.32-78.0
Percona Server 5.7.14-7

We recommend a backup of the database is performed before performing the update to ensure data integrity of your Pandora FMS server.
In the case of any problems in updating please contact us through our support tool.
https://support.artica.es/integria

We hope you find useful this information.

To keep posted about this kind of information, do not hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Nagios Alternatives: 6 of the best

August 25, 2016 — by Javier2

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alternatives2

It’s been some time since we’ve been wondering, why is Nagios deserving of the self-proclaimed title of being the “Industry standard” when it comes to monitoring. We’ve reiterated this question to ourselves more ever since they seem to be kind of limping around the industry. But that’s another story to be told, we’re here to talk about the Open Source version of Nagios (Nagios Core) and the –constantly improving- alternatives to this software which has somehow dominated the monitoring scene for the last few years. And don’t get us wrong here, this article has no intention of bashing on Nagios or any of the wonderful things it’s done for the monitoring world, it’s just that we think it’s time for a cycle change and other solutions should somehow be analyzed like a potential alternatives to Nagios.

We have about a half-dozen reasons why the “Monitoring industry standard” title is no longer property of Nagios, and we’ll discuss all of these Nagios alternatives here: Zenoss Core, Zabbix, PRTG, OpenNMS, OP5 and Pandora FMS.

All of these products offer Open Source solutions that are no longer much different from what Nagios had pioneered in about a decade ago. Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of each, and how they compare to the “industry standard”, who knows, we might be able to establish a new standard by the end of this article if we all agree that a or b product is better for x or y task.

Before going ahead, we would like to introduce you some comparisons we have already done in Artica. We are continuously benchmarking Pandora FMS versus other solutions and we love to show you our results. Comparing Pandora FMS along with our community feedback is one of the best ways to improve our software.

Analysis that have already been conducted:

Zabbix vs Nagios vs Pandora FMS

Zenoss vs Nagios v Pandora FMS

Are you looking for other analysis and comparisons? Let us know and we will work it out.

What do we look for generally in monitoring? Well depends on how technical you want to get with it. In the IT sense, we search for the holy grail, the all-in-one solution that’ll make our lives easy and our jobs pointless: that one product that you can setup and have your boss use without anything breaking, the one that can give you the most amount of information that you need to know. If you’re on the other side of the technological know-how spectrum (means, you’re the business type with no interest or time to become an IT guy), then you’re probably looking for comfort, ease of use, something technically watered down and easy to swallow.

So let’s go over our favorites Nagios alternatives one by one.

Nagios alternative number one. Pandora FMS. All in one, built from scratch, more flexible than ever

All right, let’s address one of the elephants in the room: in monitoring most products or projects do most of the same things as the one next to it. The issue gets serious when a company decides to build its monitoring solution from a solution already developed and working. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad behavior, however, if you want to stand out from competitors in an already crowded industry such as the monitoring sector, the best way to do it is starting from scratch and try to change the current monitoring standards.

This is where Pandora breaks the mold. We actually went through the trouble of building something from scratch that really works. More so, it works like it’s supposed to.

We nailed it and actually created something “all-in-one” that works if you read the documentation where we have spent thousands of hours explaining how to go to the extra mille with Pandora FMS.

If you’ve got the IT know how and are willing to take the time to comb Pandora to your taste, you’re getting the best price-quality ratio, considering there’s no price on these solutions. The legend even states that some Open Source users have tweaked this out to be just as powerful as their enterprise edition, but legends are legends, right?

 

OP5, the second Nagios alternative- A flexible, Nagios fork, fresh but limited

OP5 is a bit more complicated to use just like most others, their open source version is a gateway to their Enterprise version, and obviously leads to revenue for them.

The good thing, although it’s a Nagios-based code, is that it’s oriented to be flexible, just like the aforementioned Pandora FMS. This means, they also pay great attention to their community, and essentially thrive off it. They’re heavily oriented to not only add value to technicians, but also to the customer or sales manager. This makes OP5 much more versatile.

They have managed to adapt quite well to cloud service monitoring and, in general, do pretty well on the internet’s fashion runway. They’re hip, fresh, up-to-date and all those good things one pays attention to while developing. “You’ll absolutely need to have that Hadoop (or Big Data) integration” the boss says, well OP5’s done that for you. Hooray! A simplification in your line of work.

But what’s the big downside of this Nagios alternative? Their Open Source version is quite limited and leaves you needing more when it comes to larger or more complex monitoring environments. It almost forces users to end up paying the license to get the full-featured edition.

 

Third Nagios alternative: Zenoss core. User interface and SAAS oriented monitoring

Zenoss is a really good option for network and server monitoring. Let’s be honest about it: it is a better tool than Nagios for monitoring. Really Zenoss made it, they created a very well-rounded monitoring solution, almost air tight with regards to stability and features. Thing is Zenoss Core is more oriented to SaaS (with their ZaaS [Zenoss as a Service] program). That’s their competitive advantage. Their downfall you ask? Less on premise features, less customization, and everything you get from a company that’s very rapidly trying to hop on to the “cloud monitoring” wagon of the SaaS train. Although we must admit that their interface and user friendliness is top tier, their free edition is very limited and the upgrade to enterprise is too expensive.

 

Nagios alternatives number four. Zabbix. Complex to handle but really trendy nowadays

Zabbix is hard, but not because it’s significantly unique when compared to others, but because their documentation is just so cryptic you probably will need an IT translator just to understand the setup. This is their main drawback: the cryptic nature of the software that makes a difficulty comparison made with the rest of the aforementioned services.

Yeah, the learning curve for Zabbix is steep, very steep Thing is, if you’re developing software you should already understand that user friendliness is about 90% of what you need, the rest is just stuff that your real users won’t understand, or even bother to do so. Conclusion. Make it easy, it’ll make selling easier too. If you as a user can overcome all of these uniquely fantastic obstacles, then you’re in, and probably not getting out.

 

PRTG, another Nagios Alternative. Easy and straight to the point in not complex environments.

PRTG is a software that is up to date in the latest trends like web-based GUIs, mobile adaptations, and some other features that users crave. They have the best intentions with what they’re doing, and the services they provide are very well thought out, but nowadays you can’t just monitor from the outside looking in. Everything is integrated, and if it looks easy, it’ll probably be shallow. To sum up, PRTG is a valid product if what you need it for isn’t overly complex. Heed to this especially if you’re trying out the free version, it’s really a toy model for the real one.

They’re good, easy to use, and have a very strong adaptive power, yet they almost feel like they’re the cuttlefish of the monitoring industry, but all this means is that they hop on to a lot of bandwagons with little real efficiency.

Paessler created something unique, but times change, technology evolves and PRTG should find it in themselves to make something new. Their technology is not the most up to date, and they should rethink their architecture.

Still they manage to offer a whole lot of features, despite you getting their freeware version, which is limited to 100 nodes, and though this may seem limited, it’s surely more than enough for many installations. Anyway, it’s solid, although. as a programmer, adapting the tool to your installation can be a little bit tricky. Nagioscan be more powerful than PRTG. Except for the lack of database monitoring which is a big problem on their behalf, it’s a great product, and relatively as good as or better than Nagios.

 

Nagios Alternative number six. OpenNMS: Strictly open source, and proud of it

OpenNMS is like the holy grail of Open Source monitoring software. They’re basically the only company mentioned that is STRICTLY open source, and they defend this principle like only real Open Source fans would. They have an enormously huge and active community and obviously pride themselves of this. They say they’re the only monitoring solution that offers Enterprise features while remaining Open Source. Yep, that’s right, according to what we’ve read and tested, you can basically scale ONMS onto unlimited devices from a single instance.

So why isn’t this the industry standard you ask? Although we’re praising them here, and although their strongpoint is network monitoring, ONMS is lacking strength when it comes to application or server monitoring. Apart from this, their reporting tools for non-technicians (for your boss) are inexistent. Putting it into simple terms, it’s limited, but for monitoring networks exclusively, it’s a great alternative to Nagios, especially if your budget is close to none.

So, in conclusion, we have a very wide array of Nagios alternatives that can quite easily replace Nagios. As a final conclusion, stop looking for the monitoring solution you’re told you have to use and start building some criteria. If your boss insists on using Nagios, prove him or her wrong with deep knowledge on the matter, let that person know that really you’re the one who’s going to be giving the best advice because you’re the one using the solution everyday. No need to get caught up in large marketing schemes that misguide buyers into believing an inexistent hype; support smaller software producers, you may be surprised by the effort and care put into generating quality solutions that most times are overlooked.

We hope we have showed you some other tools to replace your Nagios installation. As we mentioned before, we love testing and comparing tools. Any other alternative to Nagios in your mind? Please, let us know and we would love to test it in case other tool can replace Nagios.

 

MonitoringNetwork MonitoringPandora FMSServer MonitoringSystem Monitoring

Zenoss vs Nagios vs Pandora FMS

August 18, 2016 — by Javier6

zenoss-vs-nagios-vs-pandorafms-analysis-results-1.png

In this article we’re going to establish a comparison that we hope can aid our readers in making the correct decision. Nowadays, the most common comparison is between Nagios and Zabbix (which we recommend you read before diving deeper into this article), due to the fact that Nagios has –during many years—been the main reference in monitoring software, and is now losing its ground to other systems, Zabbix one of the most proliferous ones on that list of contenders.
On this occasion we’ll be taking care of helping those admins or IT professionals that are searching for an alternative to their Nagios or ZenOSS environments and that also want a comparison between these two monitoring tools.

The main goal behind our comparisons is to give an objective point of view on the compared tools, as well as adding Pandora FMS into the mix, so you can also check the features and capabilities this tool—our tool—has (if we can be allowed the license to do so).

The Final Result

If you are in a rush, let us show you before you start the result of our analysis. If you want to go into detail, we invite you to keep reading through the full article.

zenoss vs nagios vs pandorafms analysis results

 

How was this comparison made?

In order to make this comparison we’ve set up two devices in our lab with one of the tools installed on each. From there, we’ve begun to monitor our systems and we’ve tested the features we believe to be most relevant in terms of monitoring software.

Zenoss vs. Nagios vs. Pandora FMS

ZenOSS represents an alternative to NetCool, rather than an alternative to agent-based solutions such as Nagios, Zabbix or Pandora FMS. Located in Austin, TX, ZenOSS strives to be the innovative leader in an IT niche that is quite worn out: ITOM (IT Operations Management), betting for something that back in the day someone said would be the future: agentless monitoring.

It’s true that the use of agents represents a certain resistance: in the end, you do have to install them. For this reason, on many occasions the use of agents represents a great disadvantage because of this initial deployment. What is usually left silent is that for supposed agentless systems—such as NetCool or ZenOSS—to properly work, you’ll need to set said systems up, and in many cases activate or install software components on our systems which we previously didn’t have. It’s a lot of work to only obtain a fraction of the information we could retrieve from agents. In agentless monitoring we must always bear in mind the following factors that on occasions can generate a lot of issues: the system load is equal or superior to the same with an agent and the security can be compromised, since it requires an external system to access the host device in order to extract information, whether this be via WMI, SNMP or remote executions (generally SSH). In order to obtain certain information, there’s no other option but to run commands on Windows, activating the WinRM subsystem that allows for remote connections. NetCool, for example, copies a type of “customized” agent every X amount of time, runs it, and then deletes it. Against this, Pandora FMS’ agents don’t allow for incoming connections, this means that it’s much safer than activating remote execution on each server.

Zenoss vs. Nagios regarding low level settings: a rough start.

Although ZenOSS is sold as a very visually driven tool, the truth is that the installation and post-configuration processes are filled with text files, arcane terminal commands, and many interactions with different pieces of the operating system and third party applications alike. You only need to quickly scan their documentation to realize that there are more screenshots of the console and text files than those corresponding to visual screens. In this sensem ZenOSS is worse than Nagios, since this contender, even though it also has a complex set up process, it’s still quite centralized. There aren’t as many different places to fiddle around with. Compared to Pandora FMS it has a centralized system and a much simpler design. One wonders why the people that develop ZenOSS still boast about being the simplest monitoring tool in terms of use.

If we visit this link (which lead to the ZenOSS official documentation) we can see how complex it really is, and the amount of files, console commands and different subcomponents that we need to tangle with.

https://www.zenoss.com/sites/default/files/documentation/Zenoss_Core_Installation_Guide_r5.0.x_d1051.15.343.pdf

Many users run from complex set ups. Sometimes it’s true that a good regular expression can be the most compact and precise solution, but ZenOSS goes way overboard. Back in my college days I’d heard people talk about the Inverse Polish Notation used to define an operation; ZenOSS uses this for postprocessing values. Being blunt, you may have to have a university degree in order to use ZenOSS.

Flexibility and growth in monitoring: monitoring for everything. Yes, everything; thanks to Zenpacks.

It’s easy to say that there’s monitoring for anything… anything that has a ZenPack that is. If not, you can make a ZenPack yourself, as long as you thoroughly study all the documentation on how to become a ZenPack engineer. Unlike Nagios or Pandora FMS, in order to implement small checks, we have to do so following some very strict guidelines and learning a technology that’s pretty limited.

This last detail, combined with the absence of agents makes obtaining information from systems when needed an uphill climb. The ZenOSS manual explains how to connect to those systems using the terminal and how they should be configured in order for them to report information remotely. It’s true that in an ideal world, if all systems were configured properly, they could always be monitored remotely, but the real world is filled with problems and over all with the need to take better advantage of our time, instead of having to add configurations to the snmpd.conf file on our Linux systems.

Opposite to the cheerful anarchy related to Nagios, and the flexibility Pandora FMS offers, ZenOSS is known for being rigid in how it’s proposed to users. It’s true that once the monitoring method is defined, along with the model and hierarchy system for items, information fluxes are identified, different data sources are configured and the rest of the hundreds of details are finely tuned; ZenOSS can be closer than the other two when it comes to being the ‘Holy Grail’ to “Root Cause Analysis” (detecting what issues there are, and their causes). This is something that has been pursued so long in monitoring, but with the cost of having a very rigid corset that prevents an operations team from performing calmly. Apart from the ZenOSS software itself, you’ll need a small development team to help you make your own ZenPacks, and a team of engineers that can take care of the monster. In order to do this properly, just like it’s recommended to be done. Of course there are always intermediate paths, shortcuts and in very extreme cases, users can even “cut corners”.

Zenoss vs. Nagios: Tending to third party integrations.

Integrations with third party tools is vital to any monitoring tool, since one of the main goals behind these tools is to be able to include—overtime—the most amount of tools to monitor on the same monitoring panel. In ZenOSS we highlight a large amount of rigidness when it comes to integrating the tool with third party applications, both in the way to obtain the information (via complex processes, defined by the user, with previously existing tools) and the way they produce results (notifications) in third parts, reusing third party technology. The tools that ZenOSS has—because in theory it can do anything—are rigid and systematically establish how everything is supposed to be done, meaning that simple tasks—such as interacting with an external database to notify an issue—can be much more complex than a simple 4 line script, like it would be on Nagios or Pandora.
Nevertheless, it’s true that ZenOSS has a rest type API (JSON API) which allows integrations much like Pandora FMS would, which are much superior to what Nagios allows.

Event management

It’s quite obvious that both ZenOSS and Pandora FMS have been “inspired” by many of the same sources when it comes to working with events; something that Zabbix, Nagios nor many other tools have done. The influence that event management from traiditional platforms such as Tivoli or Patrol have had is noticeable: automatic validation, event lifecycle management, workflow iterations, notifications and correlations are some of the things that both ZenOSS and Pandora FMS solve in a very similar fashion.

Zenoss vs Nagios when it comes to scaling and architecture

Nature is wise. That’s why we can find so many curves in nature: evolution makes the shapes that best adapt to the environment survive. Because of this we can find similar designs in different points of the planet. The same thing happens with the architecture meant for larger environments on ZenOSS or Pandora FMS.

 

The philosophy regarding large deployments (8000 nodes or more) is similar between Pandora FMS and ZenOSS, leaving Nagios out of the game. Both ZenOSS and Pandora FMS reassure, using success stories with names and faces, the success of their productive environments with dizzying digits. Nagios, is yet again left out of this category.

zenoss vs nagios architecture zenoss vs nagios architecture pandorafms

Zenoss vs nagios in graphs and reports

When it comes to graphs, ZenOSS and Pandora FMS are quite similar, offering the final user not only the capacity to view data graphically but also to use the graphic motor and the stored data as a real-time analysis tool, something way over what Nagios can do in this aspect.

From the report perspective, again ZenOSS applies a philosophy that is a too technical. It allows the administrator to create reports based on item “types” and filtering results through TALES expressions (something similar to a regular expression), offering reports that are most useful to technicians. From this point of view, ZenOSS offers an interface for technicians and reports for technicians. It fails, since it doesn’t allow for a user without deep knowledge of the system to generate a report, nor for said reports to be interpreted by a manager or final customer. Pandora FMS is thought out to offer an interface for report creating that is meant for end customers and the final reports can be presented as is—directly in PDF format and in the customer’s inbox—since it was the main purpose behind the report system from the beginning. Nagios in this sense is again far behind both ZenOSS and Pandora FMS.

Snapshot of a graph in Zenoss Dashboard:

zenoss vs nagios graph report zenoss

Snapshot of a graph in Nagios dashboard:

zenoss vs nagios highcharts report

Snapshot of a graph in Pandora FMS dashboard:

zenoss vs nagios vs pandorafms graphs report

Unified Monitoring

This is one of the strong points ZenOSS has. Its distributed architecture and combination of business oriented tools allow it to be used in complex networks, that are geographically distributed, also monitoring business applications, servers, virtual environments; operating in hybrid cloud/local environments.
It offers different dashboards and summary screens that allow hem to show off these capabilities, similar to those on Pandora FMS but much superior to the poor integration that Nagios has which cannot aspire to monitor complex networks, work applications or hybrid environments.

zenoss vs nagios unified monitoring
Predictive monitoring.

Just like CA and IBM systems, ZenOSS favors that which they call “predictive analysis” and heuristic root cause detection systems. The magic in this case is based on the prior definition and classification of all the assets in a series of related “types”. It’s a very well designed system that provides a necessary order many times, but that also makes deployment very complex, forcing those who are deploying the monitoring to be omnipotent and to know the system they want to monitor very well, something that in the real world—unless you have a small system—doesn’t really happen too often.

zenoss vs nagios predictive monitoring

The dependencies graph—part of the magical essence to root cause analysis—is a really beautiful flash-based graph that allows users to see how systems are connected, but it doesn’t’ show any additional information apart from if the systems are alive or not. Clicking on it won’t take you anywhere either, in other words, it’s not really useful for daily tasks.

Final thoughts on the Zenoss, Nagios and Pandora FMS comparison

ZenOSS’ GUI is visually pleasing but it ends up being a bit tiring for proper daily use. It’s not fluent enough.
The automatic discovery feature that they promise only works correctly for network environments with static paths, file systems and network interfaces. Everything that isn’t obvious has to be described “by hand”. Since it’s remote, it usually ends up being twice as tedious as if it were based on agents and had real access to the OS, instead of doing so through remote WinRM or SNMP interfaces.

Since it’s designed to be agentless, its SNMP, WMI and remote execution capabilities are very powerful, configurable, and well proven; yet again they need for the other end to grant ZenOSS complete access.

Finally, we would like to add a new article added on 25th August 2016 related to other Nagios alternatives. If you are planning to move from Nagios, we recommend you to check it out.

MonitoringNetwork MonitoringPandora FMSServer Monitoring

Zabbix vs Nagios vs PandoraFMS: an in depth comparison

June 17, 2016 — by Javier16

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We know that many corporative installations nowadays use Nagios as their main monitoring system for networks, systems and applications. Also, as we mentioned in the article on the best network monitoring tools, Zabbix has been taking pieces from Nagios’ cake for a long time. There are many doubts that start to arise when it comes to choosing the ideal monitoring tool for an installation, and this is precisely the reason we’ve gotten down to work today to analyze both these systems in depth. As was expected, we also brought Pandora FMS into this comparative, for perspective purposes.

MonitoringNetwork MonitoringServer Monitoringservidores

Nginx monitoring with Pandora FMS: getting the most out of your web server

May 27, 2016 — by Javier1

Nginx has  become one of the most used web servers as of now. As a matter of fact, it’s stealing a big chunk of the market pie from the very famous Apache. According to certain sources, NGINX is used as a web server by more than 140 million websites, and it’s supposed to be used by 38% of the top 1000 sites on the web right now.

With this data, and with a strong bet on innovation, NGINX has been made an important element on any company installation. For this reason, here at Pandora FMS we’ve assigned part of our time to develop two plugins for NGINX. The first is meant to be used with the Open Source edition of Pandora FMS and monitors the main metrics from NGINX. The second is included with Pandora FMS Enterprise edition and apart from measuring the most important monitoring metrics, integrates perfectly with the NGINX Plus Status Module, which we’ll talk about below.

MonitoringPandora FMS

IT Metrics, find out the main metrics that really matter

April 18, 2016 — by Javier1

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When it comes to monitoring our infrastructures a question comes to mind, the answer to which will determine a positive outcome to our CPD.

What metrics must I monitor to know the status of my infrastructures?

In this article we’ll be talking about the main IT metrics you should take into account to know the status of your infrastructure and, in case you run into trouble, how to solve it efficiently.

Data BasesPandora FMS

NOSQL vs SQL. Key differences and when to choose each

March 18, 2016 — by Javier9

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Nowadays there is a rising tendency to use NoSQL databases. In this article we want to clear up the differences between both database types and on what occasions should we choose one over the other for our project. If you think you can collaborate with more characteristics or information for this article, we’ll gladly pay close attention to your commentaries. 

MonitoringNetworkNetwork MonitoringPandora FMSServer Monitoring

Docker Swarm: a boost in your network potential

March 4, 2016 — by Javier0

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Docker is developing a new protocol they’re (quite logically) denominating “Docker Swarm“. According to Docker’s new documentation section specific to this add-on Swarm is literally  a “native clustering for Docker. It turns a pool of Docker hosts into a single, virtual Docker host. Because Docker Swarm serves the standard Docker API, any tool that already communicates with a Docker daemon can use Swarm to transparently scale to multiple hosts.”. This sounds really nice and promises to be a very powerful tool to further squeeze potential out of Docker.

CloudCloud MonitoringMonitoring

Cloud Monitoring: a real experience with Toni de la Fuente

February 10, 2016 — by Javier0

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Today we’ve had the pleasure of talking to one of our first Pandora FMS Ambassadors. After having talked to him some days ago in order to introduce our program to him, the feeling I had was that he was a person with a large amount of technical knowledge and with a very clear view of how the technological world is orienting itself. Personally I was mentally blitzed, I only could keep listening to all the new things he had to tell me. For this reason, in this meeting Toni, Sancho and myself were present. The conversation was quite interesting, and we learned quite a few things we expect to share with all of you, our readers. Thanks for giving us your time Toni.

MonitoringMonitorizaciónMonitorización de SistemasNetwork MonitoringServer Monitoring

Computer system monitoring: advantages, procedures and use

February 4, 2016 — by Javier4

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computer system monitoring

Computer system monitoring: advantages, procedures and use

Most company’s workforce is based on their computer systems, therefore these must be capable of responding in any situation, and sometimes at any given time of the day. Monitoring theses systems has become a fundamental task to manage all of a company’s IT infrastructure, with the following main goals in mind:

  • Taking maximum advantage over a company’s HW resources.
  • Instance prevention and problem detection.
  • Notifying possible issues

In general these objectives can be summarized into one single, very quantifiable, objective: Cutting down costs, less instances, less time used and higher client satisfaction rate.