Monitoring: Via the Cloud or Open-Source Tools?

As today’s fast-paced IT industry changes, with the development and growth of virtualized infrastructure and cloud computing, both open-source network and cloud-based monitoring tools are attracting growing interest.

But which to choose?

Advocates of open-source technology praise the flexibility and reasonable costs of these tools, making them a viable alternative to software offered by large enterprise technology companies. And there are dozens of different open-source projects that target the issue of network monitoring. One program, Snort, developed by Sourcefire, counts 270,000 registered users and millions of downloads.

Users can tailor the tools to their specific networks and apps. And open-source tools have a social media-type feature that enables others in the open source community to exchange experiences and make suggestions about how to make the tools better.

The rising popularity of cloud computing is also driving companies to search for monitoring services that measure firms’ service level agreements with cloud platform providers. Some companies are using open-source network monitoring tools to do the job, while others are turning to cloud-based services. Both typically handle monitoring of e-commerce and Web applications that require constant uptime.

Yet cloud-based monitoring offers some distinct advantages over open-source monitoring tools.

For one, there’s no need to setup or install software. And there are certainly less maintenance efforts involved because there’s no need to worry about upgrades, server maintenance and compatibility issues. And, while community open-source tools are free, upgraded or customized versions can cost a lot. Cloud-based monitoring, on the other hand, as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, runs for pennies on the dollar. And it is designed to allow users to pay as they go (or pay for what they use).

One other important thing to remember, from the cloud, there are no boundaries around where you can monitor an application, website or network.

Which monitoring technology to choose? For cost and ease of use alone, my money’s on the cloud.