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Top Monitoring Tools for DevOps Engineers and SREs

Monitoring has moved from a simple proactive practice to a necessity on any product launch checklist. It is crucial to pick a tool that meets your observability needs & ensures reliability of your service to your customers.

Over the years, with an increase in adoption of DevOps and SRE practices, Monitoring has moved from a simple proactive practice to a necessity on any product launch checklist. We now use different tools to do various monitoring checks to ensure that all components of a system or service are available and functioning at all times.

Monitoring is segmented based on the components being monitored - Network monitoring, Server Monitoring and APM. The metrics measured by each type provides different information about your system's health and how all of it ties up with your end-user experience. This depth of data is essential to detect issues and eliminate any possible downtime proactively.

Types of Monitoring Tools

  • Network monitoring - specializes in monitoring all of the computer network's connected components such as routers, incoming/outgoing network bytes, firewalls, switches among other network data.
  • Server Monitoring/ Infrastructure Monitoring - specializes in monitoring the server components such as CPU, memory usage, disk space among other server data.
  • Application Performance Monitoring - helps detect application level issues, those that are experienced by the end-user. Typical metrics involved with this are response time, requests/sec, transactions/sec among others.

There are many tools in the industry, both free and enterprise grade that specializes in one monitoring over the other or provides an all-in-one monitoring solution.

Selecting the right Monitoring tool

Choosing a monitoring tool can be daunting given the list of options out there. However, there are some key questions that can help you narrow down the type of tool you need.

  • What components do you need to monitor? (Network components, Server components, Application?)
  • What kind of data do you need to collect? (Metrics, Events or both?)
  • What do you need this data for? (To simply observe patterns in the long run? To also alert when there’s something dire?)
  • Do you also need the tool to have visualization capabilities? (Or do you already have Grafana for this?)
  • What kind of support does your company expect/need? (Do you have strict SLAs to uphold?)
  • What budget is allocated for this type of tooling? (Would you have room to accomodate more than one tool for different types of data?)
  • Do you need an on-premise version or a cloud version? ( It should be compatible with your techstack and should be able to handle any future scaling or upgrades)

Once you select the kind of tool(s) you’ll need, you can further narrow this down by understanding the level of instrumentation required to get the data you need. 

As was rightly mentioned in the Monitoring 101: Collecting the right data blog post by Datadog:

“Collecting data is cheap, but not having it when you need it can be expensive, so you should instrument everything, and collect all the useful data you reasonably can.”‍

It is crucial to pick the kind of tool that meets your observability needs and helps you ensure that your services and systems are reliable for your customers. 

So, in no particular order, we’ve listed some of the most popular monitoring tools and some features that stand out. Some of these tools cover a mix of Network Monitoring, Server Monitoring and Application Performance Monitoring functionalities.

Prometheus

Prometheus is an open-source systems monitoring and alerting tool used for event monitoring and alerting. It records real-time metrics in a time series database built using a HTTP pull model, with flexible queries.

Features:- 

- Data Visualization
- Simple Operation
- Precise Alerting
- Many Client Libraries
- Many Integrations
- Powerful Queries
- Open-source 

Solarwinds - Pingdom

Pingdom is a global performance and availability monitoring solution for your websites, applications and servers.

Features:- 

- Uptime Monitoring
- Page Speed Monitoring
- Incident Alerting
- Real-Time Alerts
- Transaction Monitoring
- Real User Monitoring

Zabbix

Zabbix is a real time monitoring tool of IT components and services. It is an open-source software for networks, servers, virtual machines & cloud services and used by multiple sectors. Zabbix provides data metrics for network utilization, CPU load and disk space consumption of the digital assets.

Features:- 

- Network Monitoring 
- Server Monitoring
- Cloud Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Services Monitoring
- Open-source and Free

Zoho - Site 24x7

Site 24x7 is another all-in-one tool that provides Website, Server and Application Performance Monitoring. Site24x7 is a part of the ManageEngine suite of products that help provide monitoring health checks to maintain your system uptime.

Features:- 

- Website Performance Monitoring 
- Server Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Rest APIs
- End User Experience Monitoring
- Automatic Network Discovery
- Supports a lot of integrations
- Supports apps built in Java, .NET, AWS, Azure and iOS, android mobile environments
- Free Version Available‍

Nagios XI

Nagios XI, previously known as just Nagios, is a free and open-source monitoring toolkit that helps with systems, networks and infrastructure monitoring. 

Features:-

- Network Monitoring
- Server Monitoring
- Data Visualization 
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Easy set-up
- Free Version Available

Sensu

Sensu is an open source infrastructure and application monitoring tool that monitors servers, services, and application health. Sensu Go is the latest version of Sensu.

Features:-

- Server Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Intuitive API and Dashboard
- Custom Metrics
- Incident Alerting
- Free Version Available

Signal Fx

SignalFx enables real-time cloud monitoring and observability for infrastructure, microservices, and applications by collecting and analyzing metrics and traces across every component in your cloud environment.

Features:-

- Infrastructure Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Microservices and Container APM
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Incident Alerting
- APIs 
- Predictive Analytics
- 150+ Integrations

Solarwinds - Server and Application Monitor (SAM)

Server and Application Monitor (SAM) as the name suggests, does just that. 

Features:

- Hardware Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Multi-vendor Server Monitoring
- Container APM
- DNS Monitoring 
- Active Directory

ManageEngine - OpManager

ManageEngine’s OpManager is a Network Monitoring tool that helps monitor network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, wireless LAN controllers, servers, VMs, printers, storage devices, and everything that has an IP and is connected to the network

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Physical and virtual server monitoring 
- Customizable Dashboard
- Incident Alerting
- Reporting
- Custom Workflows

Datadog

Datadog is a monitoring service for cloud-scale applications, providing monitoring of servers, databases, tools, and services, through a SaaS-based data analytics platform.

Features:

- Application Performance Monitoring
- Server Monitoring 
- Monitoring consolidation 
- Visualize and alert on log data
- Interactive Dashboards
- Alerting 
- API

PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG Network Monitor is an agentless network monitoring software from Paessler AG. It can monitor and classify system conditions like bandwidth usage or uptime and collect statistics from miscellaneous hosts as switches, routers, servers and other devices and applications.

Features:

- All-in-one Network Monitoring
- Failover tolerant Monitoring
- Visualization
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Distributed Monitoring
- Reporting
- Free Version Available

New Relic

New Relic has a suite of monitoring products that together provide an all-in-one monitoring solution. New  Relic APM, New Relic Browser and New Relic Infrastructure can be used individually or together. 

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Infrastructure Monitoring
- APM Monitoring
- Database Monitoring
- Custom Dashboard
- Distributed Tracing
- Capacity Analysis
- Reporting

WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold provides complete visibility into the status and performance of applications, network devices and servers in the cloud or on-premises.

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Cloud Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Visualization
- Configuration Management
- Network Mapping
- REST APIs

Icinga

Icinga is an open-source computer system and network monitoring application. It was originally created as a fork of the Nagios system monitoring application

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Hardware Monitoring
- Server Monitoring
- Database functionality and Alerting
- Reporting
- Graphing
- Plugins 
- REST APIs
- Open-source

Although this is not an exhaustive list of both the available tools and the listed features, as stated earlier, it is important to identify the kind of metrics you need to monitor and understand how you can make this data more actionable before choosing a monitoring tool. You can also visit the respective websites to know more about each tool and how it can help you.

Squadcast is an incident management tool that ingests data from various monitoring sources and support tooling in your techstack to provide actionable alerts, reduce MTTR and eliminate unplanned downtime. Try for free now or schedule a demo to explore SRE best practices in incident management with better collaboration and transparency, increasing the overall reliability of your service.

‍

Learn more about Squadcast:
March 18, 2020
Prakya Vasudevan
About the Author:

Top Monitoring Tools for DevOps Engineers and SREs

March 18, 2020
Monitoring has moved from a simple proactive practice to a necessity on any product launch checklist. It is crucial to pick a tool that meets your observability needs & ensures reliability of your service to your customers.

Over the years, with an increase in adoption of DevOps and SRE practices, Monitoring has moved from a simple proactive practice to a necessity on any product launch checklist. We now use different tools to do various monitoring checks to ensure that all components of a system or service are available and functioning at all times.

Monitoring is segmented based on the components being monitored - Network monitoring, Server Monitoring and APM. The metrics measured by each type provides different information about your system's health and how all of it ties up with your end-user experience. This depth of data is essential to detect issues and eliminate any possible downtime proactively.

Types of Monitoring Tools

  • Network monitoring - specializes in monitoring all of the computer network's connected components such as routers, incoming/outgoing network bytes, firewalls, switches among other network data.
  • Server Monitoring/ Infrastructure Monitoring - specializes in monitoring the server components such as CPU, memory usage, disk space among other server data.
  • Application Performance Monitoring - helps detect application level issues, those that are experienced by the end-user. Typical metrics involved with this are response time, requests/sec, transactions/sec among others.

There are many tools in the industry, both free and enterprise grade that specializes in one monitoring over the other or provides an all-in-one monitoring solution.

Selecting the right Monitoring tool

Choosing a monitoring tool can be daunting given the list of options out there. However, there are some key questions that can help you narrow down the type of tool you need.

  • What components do you need to monitor? (Network components, Server components, Application?)
  • What kind of data do you need to collect? (Metrics, Events or both?)
  • What do you need this data for? (To simply observe patterns in the long run? To also alert when there’s something dire?)
  • Do you also need the tool to have visualization capabilities? (Or do you already have Grafana for this?)
  • What kind of support does your company expect/need? (Do you have strict SLAs to uphold?)
  • What budget is allocated for this type of tooling? (Would you have room to accomodate more than one tool for different types of data?)
  • Do you need an on-premise version or a cloud version? ( It should be compatible with your techstack and should be able to handle any future scaling or upgrades)

Once you select the kind of tool(s) you’ll need, you can further narrow this down by understanding the level of instrumentation required to get the data you need. 

As was rightly mentioned in the Monitoring 101: Collecting the right data blog post by Datadog:

“Collecting data is cheap, but not having it when you need it can be expensive, so you should instrument everything, and collect all the useful data you reasonably can.”‍

It is crucial to pick the kind of tool that meets your observability needs and helps you ensure that your services and systems are reliable for your customers. 

So, in no particular order, we’ve listed some of the most popular monitoring tools and some features that stand out. Some of these tools cover a mix of Network Monitoring, Server Monitoring and Application Performance Monitoring functionalities.

Prometheus

Prometheus is an open-source systems monitoring and alerting tool used for event monitoring and alerting. It records real-time metrics in a time series database built using a HTTP pull model, with flexible queries.

Features:- 

- Data Visualization
- Simple Operation
- Precise Alerting
- Many Client Libraries
- Many Integrations
- Powerful Queries
- Open-source 

Solarwinds - Pingdom

Pingdom is a global performance and availability monitoring solution for your websites, applications and servers.

Features:- 

- Uptime Monitoring
- Page Speed Monitoring
- Incident Alerting
- Real-Time Alerts
- Transaction Monitoring
- Real User Monitoring

Zabbix

Zabbix is a real time monitoring tool of IT components and services. It is an open-source software for networks, servers, virtual machines & cloud services and used by multiple sectors. Zabbix provides data metrics for network utilization, CPU load and disk space consumption of the digital assets.

Features:- 

- Network Monitoring 
- Server Monitoring
- Cloud Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Services Monitoring
- Open-source and Free

Zoho - Site 24x7

Site 24x7 is another all-in-one tool that provides Website, Server and Application Performance Monitoring. Site24x7 is a part of the ManageEngine suite of products that help provide monitoring health checks to maintain your system uptime.

Features:- 

- Website Performance Monitoring 
- Server Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Rest APIs
- End User Experience Monitoring
- Automatic Network Discovery
- Supports a lot of integrations
- Supports apps built in Java, .NET, AWS, Azure and iOS, android mobile environments
- Free Version Available‍

Nagios XI

Nagios XI, previously known as just Nagios, is a free and open-source monitoring toolkit that helps with systems, networks and infrastructure monitoring. 

Features:-

- Network Monitoring
- Server Monitoring
- Data Visualization 
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Easy set-up
- Free Version Available

Sensu

Sensu is an open source infrastructure and application monitoring tool that monitors servers, services, and application health. Sensu Go is the latest version of Sensu.

Features:-

- Server Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Intuitive API and Dashboard
- Custom Metrics
- Incident Alerting
- Free Version Available

Signal Fx

SignalFx enables real-time cloud monitoring and observability for infrastructure, microservices, and applications by collecting and analyzing metrics and traces across every component in your cloud environment.

Features:-

- Infrastructure Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Microservices and Container APM
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Incident Alerting
- APIs 
- Predictive Analytics
- 150+ Integrations

Solarwinds - Server and Application Monitor (SAM)

Server and Application Monitor (SAM) as the name suggests, does just that. 

Features:

- Hardware Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Multi-vendor Server Monitoring
- Container APM
- DNS Monitoring 
- Active Directory

ManageEngine - OpManager

ManageEngine’s OpManager is a Network Monitoring tool that helps monitor network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, wireless LAN controllers, servers, VMs, printers, storage devices, and everything that has an IP and is connected to the network

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Physical and virtual server monitoring 
- Customizable Dashboard
- Incident Alerting
- Reporting
- Custom Workflows

Datadog

Datadog is a monitoring service for cloud-scale applications, providing monitoring of servers, databases, tools, and services, through a SaaS-based data analytics platform.

Features:

- Application Performance Monitoring
- Server Monitoring 
- Monitoring consolidation 
- Visualize and alert on log data
- Interactive Dashboards
- Alerting 
- API

PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG Network Monitor is an agentless network monitoring software from Paessler AG. It can monitor and classify system conditions like bandwidth usage or uptime and collect statistics from miscellaneous hosts as switches, routers, servers and other devices and applications.

Features:

- All-in-one Network Monitoring
- Failover tolerant Monitoring
- Visualization
- Comprehensive Dashboard
- Distributed Monitoring
- Reporting
- Free Version Available

New Relic

New Relic has a suite of monitoring products that together provide an all-in-one monitoring solution. New  Relic APM, New Relic Browser and New Relic Infrastructure can be used individually or together. 

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Infrastructure Monitoring
- APM Monitoring
- Database Monitoring
- Custom Dashboard
- Distributed Tracing
- Capacity Analysis
- Reporting

WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold provides complete visibility into the status and performance of applications, network devices and servers in the cloud or on-premises.

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Cloud Monitoring
- Application Monitoring
- Visualization
- Configuration Management
- Network Mapping
- REST APIs

Icinga

Icinga is an open-source computer system and network monitoring application. It was originally created as a fork of the Nagios system monitoring application

Features:

- Network Monitoring
- Hardware Monitoring
- Server Monitoring
- Database functionality and Alerting
- Reporting
- Graphing
- Plugins 
- REST APIs
- Open-source

Although this is not an exhaustive list of both the available tools and the listed features, as stated earlier, it is important to identify the kind of metrics you need to monitor and understand how you can make this data more actionable before choosing a monitoring tool. You can also visit the respective websites to know more about each tool and how it can help you.

Squadcast is an incident management tool that ingests data from various monitoring sources and support tooling in your techstack to provide actionable alerts, reduce MTTR and eliminate unplanned downtime. Try for free now or schedule a demo to explore SRE best practices in incident management with better collaboration and transparency, increasing the overall reliability of your service.

‍

Prakya Vasudevan
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Squadcast recognized in Incident Management based on user reviews Users love Squadcast on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Incident Management on G2
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