Network monitoring tools

Complex deployments require monitoring.  It starts with a shell script that pings a remote server occasionally.  Then you’ve got “hey I just rebooted” emails added to init.d.  You might write some tests using wget or curl or expect (or even an automation tool like selenium to verify functionality.)  It can get out of hand.

Let’s start off with a list of monitoring tools.  I’m not endorsing anything here, just building a list and hoping for feedback:

  • Nagios – very popular open source network monitoring
  • Zenoss – newer network monitoring tool. uses Zope
  • Hyperic – commerical, free basic version
  • OpenNMS – open source network management platform

Additional tools

  • Lilac Platform – used to configure Nagios
  • Cacti – network graphing, often used with Nagios

SNMP is a standard protocol for checking network status.  Everything from switches to SAN arrays can use SNMP to report their status.  You can wrap JMX beans in SNMP.  And you can write scripts that verify complex functionality and publish SNMP data, and then use your network monitoring tools to check status, send emails and pages, or take whatever action is needed.

5 thoughts on “Network monitoring tools


    Nagios isn’t a monitoring system as much as it is an event reporting system…saying that Nagios is an event reporting system, you have to create events.

    We did our evaluation and with all the touted features Zenoss came out on top. Deployment was much easier than Nagios, and setting up monitors was a breeze. Unfortunately as we dug deeper into
    Zenoss functionality we ran into a number of problems. First, the feature set as documented just doesn’t seem to be there…Nagios is clunky, it is ugly, it is a pain to configure. It also works.

    For a dissenting vote, [Zenoss has] been very good to us…it’s got some really nice features Nagios completely lacks, and is improving at a much more rapid pace, fueled by a much larger core developer team. The thing about Zenoss is that everything is centralized – you get syslog,
    system check, snmpd checks, graphs, inventory, etc. all in one place, with one install… We no longer have to maintain a Cacti instance plus a Nagios instance plus inventories plus a Network monitoring instance plus a syslog parser like swatch

    Zenoss is not nearly as useful if you don’t use snmp heavily

    SNMP is nice for simple stats (routers, ethernet interfaces, disk usages, etc)…if you start to dig deeper into monitoring of services and service level management more and more specialized, agent-based tools come into action

    OpenNMS is first and foremost a Network Monitoring system. It can autodiscovery and add new devices into to be monitored is your like…OpenNMS will do a
    deep probe and findout what the device is. It has good knowledge of
    various work equipment, and will automatically add interfaces or
    services it finds to be monitored. It does know about a decent range of
    network services (http, ftp, ssh, telnet, smtp, snmp, etc)…it’s system monitor is limited to what your can get out of SNMP via the HOST MIB

    I had a test drive of OpenNMS. I share with you my findings:

  2. Ms. Jane Curry, that’s a GREAT and detailed paper you’ve shared with us. Thank you!

    I disagree with your own final choice — based on your comments and criteria OpenNMS really seems like the winner — but you’ve done a lot of the homework I would have liked to do, and I appreciate the paper. Thanks again.

    (I only found this thread looking for more info on “TheDude”, which you really only skim over, but that’s okay.)

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