Zabbix vs Nagios

For years, I was using Nagios for server monitoring, but now I’m in the process of switching to Zabbix. I also use a third, much simpler system to monitor the main monitoring system.

Here is a practical comparison of Nagios vs Zabbix:

Zabbix – Pros:

  • Zabbix monitors all main protocols (HTTP, FTP, SSH, SMTP, POP3, SMTP, SNMP, MySQL, etc)
  • Alerts in e-mail and/or SMS
  • Very good web interface
  • Native agent available on Windows, OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, etc
  • Multi-step web application monitoring (content, latency, speed)
  • Can visualize and compare any value it monitors
  • System “templates”
  • Monitoring of log files and reboots *
  • Local monitoring proxies **
  • Customizable dashboard screens
  • Real-time SLA reporting

Zabbix – Cons:

  • Zabbix is more complex to set up
  • Escalation is a bit strange ***
  • No flapping detection
  • Documentation is spotty sometimes
  • Uses a database (like MySQL)

Nagios – Pros:

  • Nagios monitors all main protocols (HTTP, FTP, SSH, SMTP, POP3, SMTP, SNMP, MySQL, etc)
  • Alerts in e-mail and/or SMS
  • Multiple alert levels: ERROR, WARNING, OK
  • “Flapping” detection
  • Automatic topography display
  • Completely stand-alone, no other software needed
  • Web content monitoring

Nagios – Cons:

  • Nagios needs SSH access or lots of hacking to monitor remote system internals (open files, running processes, memory, etc)
  • Web interface is mostly read-only
  • No charting of monitored values (different systems like “Cacti” or “Nagiosgraph” can be bolted on)

* Albeit log and reboot monitoring means that one gets an “ERROR” and an “RECOVERY” message instead of one “CHANGED” or “REBOOTED” message. One gets used to it.

** For example, when there are multiple sites, each site can have it’s own “proxy” (local Zabbix monitor), taking load off the main Zabbix server, and collecting data even if the connection to the main server is severed.

*** It’s great that higher levels of escalation get “ERROR” alerts only after some time; but in Zabbix their “RECOVERY” messages are delayed too. I don’t see the point.

**** On the web admin of Nagios, one can acknowledge problems, disable alerts, and reschedule testing. But one can not add a new host or service.

Of course, both systems have much more features than what’s listed here. I only wanted to list the points that I base my decision on. I love both Nagios and Zabbix these days and think both are awesome for production environments.

Comments

  1. Richlv says:

    second “Zabbix – Cons:” section should probably read “Nagios – Cons: ;)

  2. Q:Nagios needs SSH access or lots of hacking to monitor remote system internals (open files, running processes, memory, etc)/Q

    In general, not true. You need to, however, run NRPE (for unix systems) or NSClient (for windows systems) on the to-be-monitored hosts. The main disadvantage of NRPE is that it has it’s own configuration files and scripts that need to be installed on every host one wants to monitor. NSClient is a bit more flexible.

    And for most scenarios, remote checks or plugins are available. Monitoring is not, and never will be, a plug-and-play concept.

  3. Currently I would choose Nagios over any other monitoring tool because of it’s enormous flexibility, plugins and addons/GUI’s.

    There is almost nothing that can not be done with Nagios.

    Also worth to check out is check_mk (which automates a lot) and pnp4nagios

    http://mathias-kettner.de/check_mk.html

  4. This is bollocks. Nagios has a mainly read only web front end because it’s not supposed to be configured via the web GUI. Its main purpose is for viewing information. Also it doesn’t require any hacks to get system information — you just install the nrpe agent. Lastly, Nagios is a monitoring framework and is supposed to be configured. It’s not a drop in solution

  5. Pro Zabbix – Remote Commands.

  6. Nagiospig says:

    I totally agree with Sven and Shaun. I have never hit a limit with what can be done with Nagios. I have had situations where a customer would draw comparisons between their monitoring tool of choice and Nagios and ask if Nagios can do the same, and the answer has always been YES!

    Sven, are you in Sweden? I am also!

  7. What do you mean at:

    Monitoring of log files and reboots *
    Local monitoring proxies **
    Escalation is a bit strange ***

    Why the asterisks?

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