Open Source Monitoring

By jbayer - Last updated: Monday, November 1, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

One of the goals of a good system administrator is being able to respond to problems before they affect operations. To this end we use various monitoring tools. Over time I have successfully used the following:


“mon” is a tool for monitoring the availability of services, and sending alerts on prescribed events. Services are defined as anything tested by a “monitor” program, which can be something as simple as pinging a system, or as complex as analyzing the results of an application-level transaction. Alerts are actions such as sending emails, making submissions to ticketing systems, or triggering resource fail-over in a high-availability cluster.


Nagios is a powerful monitoring system that enables organizations to identify and resolve IT infrastructure problems before they affect critical business processes.


Zabbix offers advanced monitoring, alerting and visualisation features today which are missing in other monitoring systems, even some of the best commercial ones.


Cacti is a complete network graphing solution designed to harness the power of RRDTool‘s data storage and graphing functionality. Cacti provides a fast poller, advanced graph templating, multiple data acquisition methods, and user management features out of the box. All of this is wrapped in an intuitive, easy to use interface that makes sense for LAN-sized installations up to complex networks with hundreds of devices.


Munin is a networked resource monitoring tool that can help analyze resource trends and “what just happened to kill our performance?” problems. It is designed to be very plug and play. A default installation provides a lot of graphs with almost no work.


OpenNMS is an award winning network management application platform with a long track record of providing solutions for enterprises and carriers.

Of these, I have used Mon, Nagios, and Zabbix more than any of the others.  Zabbix is, for me, the newest one, and I am currently migrating from a Nagios-based solution to a Zabbix solution.

A short comparision of these three tools (this table is excerpted from Wikapedia):

Name IP SLA Reports Logical Grouping Trending Trend Prediction Auto Discovery Agent SNMP Syslog Plugins Triggers / Alerts WebApp Distributed Monitoring Inventory Data Storage Method License Maps Access Control> IPv6
Cacti Yes Yes Yes Yes Via plugin No Yes Yes Yes Yes Full Control Yes Yes RRDtool, MySQL GPL Plugin Yes Yes
Munin No No Yes Unknown No Yes Yes No Yes Partial Viewing Unknown Unknown RRDtool GPL Unknown Unknown Yes
Nagios Via plugin Yes Yes No Via plugin Supported Via plugin Via plugin Yes Yes Full Control Yes Via plugin Flat file, SQL GPL Yes Yes Yes
OpenNMS Yes Yes Yes Unknown Yes Supported Yes Yes Yes Yes Full Control Yes Limited JRobin, PostgreSQL [1] GPL Yes Yes Limited
Zabbix Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Supported Yes Yes Yes Yes Full Control Yes Yes Oracle,

MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLiteGPLYesYesYesNameIP SLA ReportsLogical GroupingTrendingTrend PredictionAuto DiscoveryAgentSNMPSyslogPluginsTriggers / AlertsWebAppDistributed MonitoringInventoryData Storage MethodLicenseMapsAccess ControlIPv6


Product Name
The name of the software, linked to its Wikipedia article. Any
software listed without being linked to its article, demonstrating its
notability, will be removed.
IP SLAs Reports
Feature reports on IP
Logical Grouping
Support arranging the hosts or devices it monitors into
user-defined groups
Provide trending of network data over time
Trend Prediction
The software feature algorithms designed to predict future
network statistics
Auto Discovery
The software automatically discover hosts or network devices it
is connected to
The product rely on a software agent that must run on hosts it is
monitoring, so that data can be pushed back to a central server.
“Supported” means that an agent may be used, but is not mandatory. An SNMP daemon does not
count as an agent.
Able to retrieve and report on SNMP statistics
Able to receive and report on Syslogs
Architecture of the software based on a number of ‘plugins’ that
provide additional functionality
Capable of detecting threshold violations in network data, and
alerting the administrator in some form.
Runs as a web-based application
Distributed Monitoring
Able to leverage more than one server to distribute the load of
network monitoring.
Keeps a record of hardware and/or software inventory for the
hosts and devices it monitors
Data Storage Method
Method used to store the network data it monitors.
License released under (e.g. GPL, BSD_license, etc.)
Features graphical network maps that represent the hosts and
devices it monitors, and the links between them.
Access Control
Features user-level security, allowing an administrator to
prevent access to certain parts of the product on a per-user or
per-role basis
Supports monitoring IPv6
hosts and/or devices, receiving IPv6 data, and running on an
IPv6-enabled server
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