11 Top Server Management & Monitoring Software

IT pros the world over wouldn’t be caught dead without server management software because it takes so much of the manual burden off managing servers and other critical applications.  Server management is required to to enhance the up-time of servers. Based on the server system, management plans may vary. Yet the bottom line is that proper server management software will guarantee the security and stability of servers throughout its lifespan.

 

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Being huge machines, physical servers occupy both space and power.  Further, servers need cooling systems to keep them functioning. However, as the virtualization of servers becomes more popular, companies aren’t focusing much on physical servers. Virtualizing servers helps in reducing time, investment and energy expenditures, and they also reduce the cooling costs of servers.

 

Hosted server monitoring solutions like Monitis save enormous amounts of time for system and network admins, as cloudware enables you to get things done much faster and cheaper than by installing software products in-house. I’ve already covered the benefits of multi-tenant web solutions versus software solutions in my blog post Why Cloud-based Monitoring is more reliable and secure than Nagios, and we have also covered it in our white paper – Monitoring from the Cloud:  Monitis versus In-House Monitoring Software. By the way, I urge you to read them both.

 

But if you’re still interested in software solutions for some reason, below are a review of the popular server management software products:


 

1. Hyperic HQ – Benefits:

2. Nagios – Benefits

3. ZABBIX 1.8 – Benefits

4. SolarWinds – Orion Network Performance Monitor 10.1: Benefits

5. WhatsUp Gold- Gold Premium: Benefits

6. ManageEngine OpManager: Benefits

7. Sciencelogic EM – 7: Benefits

8. GFI Network Server Monitor – Benefits

9. OpenNMS : OpenNMS 1.6.10

10. Paessler :  PRTG Network Monitor Version  8

11. Spiceworks : Spiceworks Help Desk & Network Monitoring Platform

 

 

1. Hyperic HQ


  • Hyperic is the exclusive company for providing native management for Unix, Linux, Windows and Mac natively;
  • Hyperic HQ efficiently manages any operating system, web server, app server and database server;
  • In addition, Hyperic provides the most scalable systems monitoring and management software available in open-source with Hyperic HQ 3.2.

Pros:

  • Powerful, high-level monitoring functions;
  • Graphing, alerting, and a very well-designed user interface, which allows easy navigation.

Cons:

  • Hyperic HQ falls short of automatic corrective actions;
  • More manual effort is required to run Hyperic HQ’s remediation feature.

 

 

2. Nagios



  • Nagios has a web interface that helps users check network health from anywhere;
  • Creates reports on trends, availability, alerts, notifications — via the web interface;
  • Monitors network redundancies and failure rates.

Pros: Nagios
offers an extensive set of collector plug-ins that allows users to gather performance and availability data from a broad range of operating systems, including Windows and Netware;

Cons: Web GUI is not good, and a steep learning curve is required for managing config files to run devices and tests.

 

 

3. Zabbix 1.8



ZABBIX is fully configurable from its web front end and so it is easier to use ZABBIX than the popular Nagios — whose configuration requires several text files.

  • Further, ZABBIX combines both monitoring and trending functionality, while Nagios focuses exclusively on monitoring;
  • The Web monitoring function of ZABBIX allows users to monitor the availability and performance of web-based services over time. Moreover, this functionality allows ZABBIX to log into a web application periodically and run through a series of typical steps being performed by a customer.

Pros: It’s open-source and has a well-designed Web GUI and overall concept; ZABBIX offers good alerts, dedicated agents and an active user community.
Cons: ZABBIX is not suitable for large networks with 1,000+ nodes, due to PHP performance and Web GUI limitations, a lack of real-time tests, as well as complicated templates and alerting rules.

 

 

4. SolarWinds – Orion Network Performance Monitor 10.1

  • SolarWinds’s ConnectNow Topology Mapping allows users’ environment to be mapped in real time automatically.  This provides graphical visibility into users’ networks, requiring no additional work or tools;
  • SolarWinds’s Integrated Wireless Poller monitors wireless devices for security and other issues and reduces the difficulty in managing these items, allowing more widespread use of wireless technologies.

Pros:

  • Excellent UI design
  • Customizable, automated network mapping
  • Great community support provided by Thwack
  • Mobile access
  • Native VMware support

Cons:

  • Unable to configure alerts from the web-console;
  • Clumsy “Group Dependency” configuration
  • Reporting module needs better ad-hoc reports;
  • No native support for Microsoft Hyper-V. Features SNMP only.

 

 

5. WhatsUp Gold – Gold Premium

  • Processing loads are handled by remote sites minimizing the overhead at the central location;
  • Features real-time centralized network management across multiple sites using individualized dashboards;
  • Continuous uninterrupted monitoring, and each site runs independently of the central site;
  • Provides actionable intelligence, with over 200 reports to slice and dice consolidated data, including SLA levels;
  • With monitoring localized at each remote site, there is minimal traffic overhead on the network;
  • Air-tight security with 128-bit SSL encryption between each remote network connection to central site; Also, SSL over VPN can be configured.

Pros:

  • Easy setup and network discovery
  • Great feature set
  • Many notification options, including via email and SMS.
  • Detailed, customizable reporting; supports custom date ranges.

Cons:

  • Non-intuitive
  • Clumsy interface
  • Configuration requires both Web and Windows consoles;
  • Unfriendly “Passive” SNMP reporting.

 

 

6. ManageEngine OpManager


  • Easy to install and needs no special requirements;
  • Offers various facilities, including incident management, problem management, and a change management facility.
  • Good conversation management
  • By adding business rules, Process Automation can be done.
  • Provides powerful SLA features through Manage Engine Service Desk.

Pros:

  • Great feature set
  • No client required, as it is completely web-browser based;
  • Monitoring devices using SNMP, WMI, SSH/Telnet
  • Notifies admins on alarms, or escalation thresholds.

Cons:

  • Lots of manual configuration needed
  • Errors in device classification#
  • Unconventional UI is hard to navigate;
  • Configuration can be complex;
  • No multiple threshold alarms (e.g. Warning, Critical, etc.)

 

 

7. Sciencelogic EM-7


  • Rapid deployment and optimized operations (pre-loaded and built as a comprehensive integrated solution)
  • Lower “Total Cost of Ownership”
  • Support for entire system by a single vendor
  • Future enhancements are added to one coherent system — not to multiple systems with different requirements;
  • No modules; all the  functionality is included in the base product offering;
  • No costly integration projects
  • Superior security architecture through hardened operating system and built-in dynamic firewall;
  • EM7’s single data store is fully integrated, performance-tuned and self-managed;
  • Automated back-up strategy is efficient;
  • Scalable solution architecture provides cost-effective solution to start small and grow fast.

Pros:

  • Cost: EM7 starts at $25,000 for a single all-in-one box that can manage a few hundred devices, while CA, Hewlett-Packard and IBM offerings are at least 10 times more expensive;
  • Faster installation
  • Robust GUI offers device pop-up menus and is easy to navigate.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support Windows WMI;
  • Can’t collect network-flow information, as sFlow or Cisco Systems’ Netflow do.
  • EM7 neither provides an overall topology map, nor can it correlate network and systems outages.

 

 

8. GFI Network Server Monitor


  • Monitors network and servers for software and hardware failures;
  • Automatically alerts and corrects network and server issues;
  • Monitors Exchange, ISA, SQL and Web servers;
  • Easy to learn and use; easy to deploy.

Pros:

  • Easy to setup (Expect to be up and running within the hour;)
  • Automatically alerts and corrects network and server issues;
  • Offers a good library of built-in checks that you can instantly tap into;
  • Simple, intuitive configuration interface;
  • Mature product…that just works.

Cons:

  • Cost of product varies with the number of IP addresses monitored (Can get costly quickly!);
  • Web interface is pretty limited by current standards.

 

 

9. OpenNMS : OpenNMS 1.6.10

  • OpenNMS is designed for Linux but can support Windows and OSX as well;
  • Easy installation process
  • Features ability to configure “Path Outages”;
  • Offers Event and Notification Management – receiving both internal and external events;
  • Features thresholding, which is the evaluation of polled latency data or collected performance data against configurable thresholds, creating events when these are exceeded or rearmed;
  • Alarms and automation – reducing events according to a reduction key and scripting automated actions centered on alarms;
  • Sends notifications regarding noteworthy events via e-mail, XMPP, or other means.

Pros:

  • Free licensing
  • Offers good support and documentation through wikis and mailing lists;
  • Full featured and infinitely flexible
  • “Path outages” featuring “minimize excessive alerting”
  • Reasonable support costs via the OpenNMS Group.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Interface not very intuitive;
  • Requires learning and modifying various config files for customization;
  • Money saved on licensing may have to be spent on development and maintenance.

 

 

10. Paessler : PRTG Network Monitor Version  8

Paessler has completely redesigned its Web interface to make it simpler to use. In addition, the company has added support for a mini-HTML interface for mobile devices, including iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids and Windows Mobile devices. What’s more, with the iPhone app — available through the iTunes App Store — IT managers can not only receive alerts about network status, they can also take action. Paessler features include:

  • Google Maps integrated with the Web interface, allowing monitoring software to display geographical maps
  • Functions of advanced maps for creating custom network views
  • Real-time availability of up to a year of actual historic data, not aggregated data
  • Integrated native Linux monitoring functions
  • Monitoring of virtual environments, including VMware, HyperV, Xen and Amazon Cloud Watch
  • Installation of reliable alarm system enabling alerts via e-mail, SMS, instant messenger, pager message, HTTP request, syslog, etc.
  • A variety of new sensors and remote probes to monitor distributed systems, including xFlow sensors for monitoring via NetFlow or sFlow.

Pros: Very easy setup, broad range of sensors, self-contained design


11. Spiceworks – Spiceworks Help Desk & Network Monitoring Platform


Spiceworks is a network management and monitoring, Help Desk, PC inventory and software reporting solution for handling IT in small and medium-sized businesses.

  • Fast installation
  • Main dashboard completely configurable.
  • Easy to use monitoring console
  • Active user community, with forums, ratings and reviews, how-tos and whitepapers.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Easy to install and configure for Windows environments
  • “All in one” solution for Inventory, Monitoring, and Help Desk.
  • Great starting point for IT management

Cons:

  • On larger networks, performance can be slow;
  • Limited scalability
  • Does not facilitate managing control of monitored devices;
  • Some initial device configuration is required to be recognized by Spiceworks;
  • VMWare and *nix systems not discovered nearly as easily as Windows;
  • Does not provide the same depth of monitoring and control as enterprise-level products.

 

Product Comparison Chart

Software Faster
Config
Process
Good web Interface Compatible
to leading
OS
Better Graphics
and Navigation
Cost
Effective
Free? Mobile
Access
Integrated Maps Better
Automatic Corrective
Actions
Total
Points
Hyperic

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

5

Nagios

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

4

ZABBIX

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

5

Solarwinds Orion Network Performance Monitor

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

5

WhatsUp Gold

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

4

Manage
Engine OpManager

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

3

Sciencelogic

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

4

GFI Network Server Monitor

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

5

OpenNMS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

7

Paessler Network Monitor

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

6

Spiceworks

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

6

Table 1: Comparison of products

Summary

OpenNMS 1.6.10 scores better than the competition, and is thus a better server monitoring software. Its basic features include a faster configuration process, web interface, compatibility and advanced features, such as “better automatic corrective actions”. OpenNMS is also free of cost. Meanwhile, Orion Network Performance Monitor stands out with mobile access and integrated Google maps.  GFI Network Server Monitor provides “Automatic corrective actions” — although not available free of cost. Spiceworks is the only software after OpenNMS available free of cost.

This research was sponsored by Monitis, the award-winning provider of the world’s first all-in-one monitoring cloudware. While Monitis customers benefit from a hosted monitoring solution, eliminating the need to buy, install and update costly software, we recognize that many companies still prefer traditional software and have yet to embrace the Cloud. If you’re one of those companies, we hope that the comparative information we have presented here on popular server management and monitoring software assists you in making the right decision for your IT needs.

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  • Good comparison, thanks for making it public.
    The only thing is that I miss some other tools like Osmius.
    http://www.osmius.com

  • JorgeMOP

    zabbix is open source…

  • Marcus Wiess

    You forgot IBM Tivoli Monitoring?