After searching the internet for a monitoring solution for my network, I can finally say I have found the best contender, and its worth sharing. Consider this a update/solution to my previous rant about monitoring software.
How does a painless, easy install sound? How about cross platform support? Would you like Graphing/Logging of network traffic and system resources? What if I said it was based on PHP/SNMP, and it is 100% free and open-source? Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to Observium!
What is Observium? Let me quote the projects webpage:
Observium is an autodiscovering PHP/MySQL/SNMP based network monitoring which includes support for a wide range of network hardware and operating systems including Cisco, Linux, FreeBSD, Juniper, Brocade, Foundry, HP and many more.
Observium has grown out of a lack of easy to configure network monitoring platforms. It is intended to provide a more navigable interface to the health and performance of your network. Its design goals include collecting as much historical data about devices as possible, being completely autodiscovered with little or no manual intervention, and having a very intuitive interface.
So if you read my rant, you might get the impression I am picky when it comes to software like this. Well, honestly I am. I feel you shouldn’t have to read a Wiki page religiously just to get software going, or rely on outdated documents to just add a single host correctly. I understand that its nice to have a boat load features, but when that gets in the way of functionality and simplicity, that is where I draw the line.
With Observium though, its as easy as cake. Install the application, add a SNMP device, and that’s it! What really impressed me with this software is the fact it supports a large variety of devices. On my network alone, it was able to automatically detect my Debian servers (with a quick patch), OpenBSD router, HP Switch, and APC devices with ease. The fact it was able to do that with little help on my part is just awesome!
Plus, when looking at network ports, it even shows you what devices share the same VLAN/Network. This might be the signs of a automatic network mapping feature in the future? (I Hope!)
Another cool feature is the health tab. This allows you to overview all of your device resources on one page. If you do clusters, or have lots of hosts, it makes it easy to see where most of the load is, plus it gives you an idea of how much you really use your available resources.
But enough rambling, lets get to the things that stood out to me most.
Things I Love:
- Automatic Host Discovery – Using DNS and a configured IP Range, this application will automatically poll for devices with a preset SNMP community. Talk about awesome for expanding networks!
- Painless SNMP Discovery – Once a device is added, the application automatically detects what features are available to be polled from the host, so no configuration is needed on a host to host basis, making this thing a breeze to get going!
- The Web Interface – Another thing I love is the Beautiful Web Interface. It is easy to navigate, use, and nothing feels crammed. You can try out a demo out here.
- Quick and Easy Install/Setup – One quick svn pull, some cron jobs, and a few MySQL commands later, and the application is ready to go! Expect a install tutorial in the near future.
- Real Time network traffic – This part just amazes me. When you are at the network port overview, if you select a port, you can set it to real-time. When you do this, the application will in real-time show you the traffic flow and speed through that interface.
Things I don’t love so much:
- DNS Based Polling – On my network, my router does not use DNS names for the local network, which makes Automatic Host Discovery impossible for me. It also makes it a little harder for me to add devices because I have to define each one in my monitoring server’s host file first, but its not worth crying home about.
Things id like to see:
- Functional Email Alerting (Currently WIP) – It would be nice to have a email alert sent when a system resource reaches a pre-defined warning level, or a port/system goes offline. Luckily this is currently being integrated into the application! (From my understanding)
- Service Port Monitoring – The application is based around hosts and ports (as in physical/virtual networking ports), but it would be nice to see Service Port monitoring (Ex, Port 80 is open/closed). It is worth noting that with plugins you can monitor programs such as apache and MySQL.
Overall Observium is one of the best monitoring applications I have ever used. It is extremely easy to set up, add devices to, and is constantly in active development. The fact is uses SNMP instead of its own service makes it a great choice for those who don’t want to spend time configuring each host, and getting it to work with networking equipment is effortless! (Nagios and Zabbix, I’m looking at you…) Plus, the fact that it’s free and Open-Source just sweetens the deal. Just don’t forget to donate if you find it as awesome as I do. Thanks for reading this review, and let me know what you think about Observium.