Monitor this.

A while back, we began investigating centralized monitoring tools for multiple systems, cross-platform, alerting, etc.

One contender was a package from MS, and a few others were tossed in the ring.

We did a proper match-up (or shootout, as I prefer) and tested a couple of candidates. While the all-inclusive MS offering is probably the best-functioning one, the cost is too prohibitive for a monitoring tool – about $1500/host monitored.

The extensivity and ease of use is uncomparable, but cost being a factor, we looked at another popular solution – Nagios.

Open source, modifiable – or should I say – Build Your Own – as it comes wth some basic egine concepts,a nd then you pretty much have to build every single monitor you want to look at.

The result is a more targeted monitoring solution, inasmuch it does exactly what you set it out to do – but absolutely no more.

The comparison showed this past week when I got an alert from my test MS instance about a SQL job running too long, something that I would have had to create some code, adapt it to monitor that specific job, and hope it could deal with exceptions I hadn’t thought of.

That’s a difference between a specialist in a particular field (i.e. DBA, mail admin, etc) and the overall concept of a systems administrator – sometimes a jack-of-all trades.

The MS offering is combined of “Management Packs” that are written by the developers of the systems that are being monitored – i.e. Exchange developers write the monitors for exchange and so on, whereas in Nagios monitoring world, you are expected to be able to figure out all of your own monitors/thresholds, etc.

I guess it makes it a little more interesting in the long run, as building something from scratch allows you the familiarity of knowing the ins-and-outs of the systems, but it’s time consuming and the returns are not as immediately apparent.

But it’s affordable. And we’ve got the techie know how to do it. So we do it.

If any readers have used Nagios, are interested in it, have advice, want advice, want to see what the color blue tastes like, let me know.