Nagios Alternatives: 6 of the best
This post is also available in: Spanish
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:
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.