Last week I read an interesting article by Jabulani Leffall about the top IT security issues causing sleep-deprivation at University IT departments. Among the top 10 were 1. Securing remote access, 3. Patching systems, 6. Network use monitoring, 8. Password management and administrative access, and 10. Monitoring system logs.
In all these case, using cloud-based monitoring has advantages over open source. With Nagios or other open source products, you need to make frequent exceptions to your firewall to configure server monitors and also to make the Nagios dashboard accessible from outside your firewall. With a SaaS like Monitis, you don’t need to touch your firewall because all data is pushed to the cloud via HTTPS and the dashboard is hosted on our servers, not yours.
Regarding patches, we echo the sentiment that they are a major downside of Nagios and software in general. They reduce productivity and are a pain. With Monitis, there are no patches or upgrades to worry about. All product improvements are released seamlessly without your involvement, even for internal agents.
Password Management and administrative access are doable with open source, but not nearly as simple as in a SaaS, which lets you control user privileges from anywhere.
Monitoring of network use and system logs is possible with both solutions, but here’s where reliability makes a huge difference between cloud-based and open source. Nagios usually runs on just one server within your firewall, making your entire system vulnerable to the problems of that one server. If that server goes down you won’t receive critical notifications about your network use or system events. With Monitis, you have not just one server, but an entire globally deployed monitoring network, so you can rest assured that we will notify you even if your entire network goes down.
There are often concerns about storing proprietary data on cloud servers. These are legitimate concerns, especially for applications with confidential data like customers, students’ test scores, email, and health records. Monitoring data shows the performance of servers, websites and applications like Moodle or Blackboard, which is far less confidential. I think that explains why universities are showing increasing interest in cloud-based products, particularly in monitoring.