May 17, 2011

My New Favorite Free Open Source Monitoring System

I love when I start a new job, or major project. It almost always gives me good fuel for stuff to write about here on Bauer-Power. This new job is no different. Since I am coming into a smaller company that was built on a shoe string budget, I have to find a lot of new ways to get things done. Well, I should say, things I knew about, but never really used a lot.

You see in bigger companies with a decent IT budget, you can afford software the costs a few thousand dollars a pop. When your budget is under 100K though, you probably should spend your money on hardware, and not so much on software. That is where Open Source is very handy, and really shines.

One of the things my new network was lacking was a monitoring system. There aren’t a lot of servers on the network per se, but it is still nice to know when there is a problem. At first I stood up a VM running Nagios, and I was all rearing to go with that when a former colleague of mine (Thanks again Dave!) reminded me of another Open Source solution called Zenoss Core.

Here are some highlights from their page:

  • Single Integrated Product - to monitor your entire IT infrastructure
  • Open Source CMDB - a single repository for your IT assets 
  • Easy To Use Browser-Based GUI - no Linux skills needed, access from anywhere 
  • Enterprise-Ready Architecture - tiered architecture that scales to thousands of nodes
  • ZenPacks Framework - packaging system for Zenoss plugins, skins, etc...
  • Open Source - free and open source


Installation was really easy in Ubuntu Server edition, and once I had my Windows nodes configured for SNMP it discovered them without a hitch. Plus with the help of free ZenPacks or plugins, I can easily monitor other things like VMware, and Windows event logs using WMI.

I am just so happy about this solution. It’s only been running for a day and already it’s telling me about disk space issues, network connectivity problems etc. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I would have never known though until it was too late without Zenoss!

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