System Monitoring with Nagios – Part 1 of 4

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nagios I have decided to write a three part article on the benefits of using Nagios. This first article will focus on why I chose Nagios/what it offers. The second article will focus on installing Nagios on Mac OS X. The third article will focus on configuring Nagios. The fourth article will focus on improving the Nagios interface and further customizing it.

If you manage a network with multiple servers or perhaps even just one server that runs multiple services (HTTP, SMTP, SMB, AFP, FTP, etc) and are looking for a network monitoring utility, look no further. Coming from a Mac OS background, I have used my share of monitoring utilities, and I am most impressed with Nagios.
In summary, Nagios monitors services or servers for failures/warnings so you, the Sys Admin, can take care of any problems as soon as they arise. You can set up Nagios to email you, page you, IM you, etc as soon as a problem is found with any of your servers.

Why Nagios?

  • Nagios is open source and O’Reilly ranks it as the #2 open source packages for System Administrators
  • Nagios has a web interface. Regardless of your location, you can always check your network’s health as long as you have access to a web browser.
  • Not only can you monitor network services (HTTP, FTP, etc), you can also monitor host resources (disk and memory usage, processes, log files, etc. Nagios will also monitor environmental factors too (temperature).
  • Reporting. You can easily create reports on trends, availability, alerts, notifications via the web interface
  • Plugins. You can easily develop your own host and service checks if Nagios does not have exactly what you need
  • Schedule downtime. We all have to upgrade our servers or restart them at some point. Nagios allows you to easily define “downtime” so you are not notified during scheduled maintenance.
  • You can use the web interface to acknowledge any problems (so you can stop getting notified over and over again until the problem is resolved).
  • Redundant and failover network monitoring. Great, you have monitor your network and servers from within your own network, but what happens when that goes down? Multiple installs (master and slave) of Nagios can be configured to communicate with each other so if one network cannot be contacted, the other Nagios install will take over.

The list goes on and on. Check back for part 2…the install.

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