Server Monitoring is, hands down, the most important task any IT professional will do in their daily routine to ensure that all production servers and applications are running at peak performance without any hiccups. Employing the best server monitoring tools and software in your environment will not only ensure that your machines are running smoothly, but will keep your job secure as well. There's an old saying about Backups in IT departments: “Have Good Backups, Or a Good Resume” – this holds true for keeping servers up and healthy as well.
With all that said, we're going to go through a large list of software that will help you keep an eye on your infrastructure. We're hoping that our list will help you determine which software suite will work in your environment, as each is wildly different than the next.
In terms of monitoring capabilities, many of these software suites provide the functionality, reports and alert systems that are needed to ensure that everything is running top notch. We've included some open-source options as well, as some engineers and administrators are using them in their environments on a daily basis – although we like to have a support team behind the product if questions or support issues arise, as our main job is to keep servers healthy and running at all times, not configuring open-source software to do what we want it to do.
Top Tools for Server Monitoring and Management
Below you'll find a list of our top choices and a detailed description about them and some screenshots of their Interfaces and options.
Solarwinds Server and Application Monitor – Recommended Choice!
The capabilities that Solarwinds SAM has in terms of flexibility and features gives it the clear advantage when it comes to finding a solution for your monitoring needs. We recently did an article on some alternatives to nagios and the only software package that had the ability to Import Nagios Scripts natively was Solarwinds SAM. Many of the other software packages had nice templates for creating/replicating the functionality of nagios scripts, but only SAM was able to import them directly in and start monitoring within a matter of MINUTES!
On top of the migration functionality it offers, here are some of the top features that come with Solarwinds SAM that make it stand ahead of the competition:
- Automatic Mapping and Discovery of Applications and Dependencies
- Pre-packaged and Pre-Built Reports and Alerts for quick Setup
- Out-of-the-Box support for over 200 Applications (Windows and Linux)
- Agent or Agentless Monitoring for Public, Private or Cloud Applications/Servers
- Monitor Virtualized Environments including products and VM's from VMware, Hyper-V and SANS devices
- AppInsight™ feature for intricate visibility into specific Microsoft Processes including Exchange Server, IIS and SQL Server
- 800+ Custom User Generate Monitoring Templates
- Automatic Discovery of IT Asset for Tracking and Management
- Monitor Server Volumes and Storage Capacity for Proper capacity Planning
- Fix Server Problems remotely with built-in Troubleshooting Features and Tools
- Support Operating Systems and Applications include: Windows Servers, Linux, Java, Active Directory, Citrix and many more
- Deep Analysis and Monitoring of SQL Server, including Connections, Sessions, Disk I/O, Storage Capacity, DB Transactions, CPU Usage and much more
- Granular monitoring of Memory (RAM), Hard Disk Usage, CPU/Processor Usage, Critical Services, and general Hardware within Servers.
- Cloud Monitoring including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace out-of-the-box
- Easy to Use and Access Web based interface
Minimum System Requirements:
- CPU: 2.4Ghz
- Memory/RAM: 4GB
- HDD: 4GB
- OS: Windows Server 2008 R2 , 2012 and 2012 R2 – All require .Net Framework 4.5
- Database: SQL Server Express/Standard/Enterprise
- SQL Server 2008, 2008 SP1, 2008 SP2, 2008 SP3, or 2008 SP4
- SQL Server 2008 R2, 2008 R2 SP1, 2008 R2 SP2, or 2008 R2 SP3
- SQL Server 2012, 2012 SP1, 2012 SP2, or 2012 SP3
- SQL Server 2014, or 2014 SP1
- SQL Server 2016
- IIS v7.5 or Higher
Grab a 30 Day FREE Trial of Solarwinds SAM today and get it installed to really see its Functionality.
PRTG has been around for quite some time now and its been evolving into a great piece of software that has tons of bells and whistles. We've used this in our own environment for monitoring uptimes and critical services before we moved over to Solarwinds SAM, as we mentioned above. PRTG offers a wide range of features and functions as well as a nice trial period that allows you to monitor up to 100 sensors at no cost and then goes up from there in pricing.
Main Features of PRTG:
- Relatively small download size sitting at 180MB
- Can be installed on Desktop versions of Windows as well as Server versions as well
- UP/DOWN Time monitoring
- Bandwidth monitoring using SNMP, WMI and other popular protocols
- and much more!
- Processor: Minimum Dual Core x64
- Memory/RAM: Minimum 3GB, Recommended 16GB for Mid to Large Environment
- HDD: Minimum 250GB Disk Space up to 1TB of space
- OS: Recommended Windows Server 2012 R2 w/ .Net Framework 4.0 or 4.5 (can be installed on desktop versions of Windows as Trial, but not Recommended for Production)
- Supported OS's include:
- Microsoft Windows 2012
- Microsoft Windows 10
- Microsoft Windows 8 and 8.1
- Microsoft Windows 7
- Microsoft Windows Server 2008 r2
- Microsoft Windows Server 2016
- Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (Not recommended per PRTG website)
- Microsoft Windows Vista (Not recommended per PRTG website)
- Supported OS's include:
See there official site for more information and download links: https://www.paessler.com/prtg
ManageEngine is constantly striving to put out a great product, OpManager, and is gaining a lot of traction in the IT realm. OpManager brings server monitoring to your finger tips and allows you to view everything on a nicely laid out interface.
OpManager has the following features:
- Network health and Server overview and monitors
- Bandwidth and Firewall log Analysis
- Config Management
- VM and VOIP functionality
- and much more
System Requirements (via: http://help.opmanager.com/hardware-and-software-requirements):
- Processor: Intel Quad 3.5Ghz
- Memory/Ram: 16GB
- HDD: 60GB
- OS: Windows:2012 R2 / 2012 / 2008 R2 / 2008 / 2003 Server / Vista / v7 / 2000 Professional SP4 or Linux: RedHat 4.x and above, Debian 3.0, Suse, Fedora and Mandrake
- Database: MSSQL 2008, 2012 and 2014
More information at https://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/
WhatsUp Gold 2017 is another great tool for managing and monitoring servers with its latest offering, they have come up to par like many other software suites we have mentioned as well, with many of the same features.
Included Features are:
- New UI for Added Visualization for Intuitive and Map-Focused viewing
- Advanced Auto-Discovery that utilizes proprietary algorithm to avoid duplicate hardware and L2/L3 scanning capabilites
- Hyper-V Support
- IPv6 Compatible
- Global Search functionality and much more
- Processor: Quad-Core 2.6Ghz or More
- Memory/Ram: Minimum 8GB, Recommended 16GB or More
- HDD: Minimum 25GB for base Install and 4 x 100GB for Database
Download WhatsUp Gold Free and Try Today:
OP5 is an open-source solution that gives you the flexibility of an open-source platform with the enterprise support of any other product we've mentioned in this article. You will need to buy a license to accomodate the software after the 30 Day Free Trial regardless of it being open-source.
Some notable features include:
- Server & Virtual monitor capabilities
- Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud monitoring
- Scalable to monitor Data centers as well
- Reporting and other Visual metrics
- Integrated Log Server built into the platform
- and much more!
- Processor: Xeon Processor (1 x Xeon E3-1220v3, 1 x Xeon E5-2620v3 or 2 x Xeon E5-2620v)
- Memory/Ram: Minimum 8GB up to 24GB
- HDD: Minimum 500GB Hardware Raid Recommended
- OS: RedHat 6.x and CentOS 6.x (x64 for Both) or op5 Server OS.
See the Official site for Download Links and more information: https://www.op5.com
Incinga is another great open-source platform that has some great functionality and isn't as well known as most of these software packages. Incinga features include some of the following highlights:
- Object-Based configuration
- Simple Install scripts
- Multi-threaded and Designed for Speed
- and much more!
- Processor: Minimum Dual Core, Recommend Quad Core
- Memory/Ram: Minimum 4GB
- OS: Red Hat/ Cent OS, Suse Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, FreeBSD and Windows compatible.
For more information, check out their official site: https://www.icinga.org/
Zabbix is a real-time monitoring solution that is very scalable and can collect data from millions of different types of services, hardware, software and more. Its Enterprise grade and has scalability built into it. Zabbix pricing model is based on upgrades and support, as the software is open source and free to download and use. We prefer software packages that have support built into the pricing model from the get go, but this is another way that open source solutions are being maintained and supported in recent times.
- Capacity Planning
- Performance, Availability, Web App, Database and Network Hardware monitoring
- and much more
- Processor: Minimum 2 Core CPU and up to 8 Cores if necessary
- Memory/Ram: Minimum 2GB and 16GB Recommended for Large Deployements
- HDD: Minimum 15GB
- Database: MySql, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQLite or IBM DB2
- OS Supported:
- IBM AIX
- Mac OS X
- Windows: all desktop and server versions since 2000 (Zabbix agent only)
Nagios is one of the more popular open-source solutions although it lacks in some areas in terms of ease of use and built-in functionality. Many IT admins prefer using Nagios due to the cost savings, which are nice when your on a budget, but many folks have also moved away from it and found alternative Nagios solutions.
Nonetheless, its still a very popular choice amongst Network Administrators and engineers for utilizing as a monitoring system and has a lot of add-on's that give it the same capabilities and functionality that you get from Enterprise level software solutions.
Notable Features include:
- Comprehensive application, services, operating system, Network and overall infrastructure monitoring capabilities.
- Customizable Code and Add-on's for more flexibility
- Reporting and Event functionality
- Active Forum and Community for Development and troubleshooting
- Processor: Minimum Dual Core, Recommended Quad Core or more.
- Memory/Ram: Recommended 1-4GB minimum and more than 8GB's if possible
- HDD: Minimum 40GB
- Database: MySQL
For more information, check out https://www.nagios.org for official download links and more!
OpenNMS is the last tool we'd recommend and it has a great list of features that make it stand out among the rest. Features include many of the following:
- Service Outage Detection
- Topology Discovery and Mapping
- Event-Driven Architecture
- Performance Metric Management
- and much more!
- Processor: 64-bit Processor
- Memory/Ram: At Least 4Gb of Ram
- OS: Centos or Red Hat Linux, Debian or Ubuntu, Windows Server, Vagrant
- Database: PostgreSQL
We hope this overview of the best server monitoring tools and software was helpful in making your decision on which software package you should try out. Almost every single one of these offers a Trial for at least 30 days and they are all very well suited for almost any network.
We are currently using Solarwinds Server and Application Monitor in our network and love it. We suggest it to all our clients and anyone we consult for as it really gives a great overview of your network, the alerts are very easy to setup along with proper reporting. We have even Migrated users away from Nagios to Solarwinds because they have a built-in Import tool to pull the scripts directly into the software allowing you to be monitoring within a few minutes time.
Grab a Free Trial Download here and give a whirl!
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