Monitoring Systems, Networks and Services with Zabbix

As a “tech support” company, one of the things we have striven for over the years is to be ahead of the problems that our clients face. If a server is down we want to know about it before they do so we can either have it back up and running before it’s a problem, or at least so that we can say we’re aware of what’s going on and are currently working to resolve it.

To do that you have to have good monitoring capabilities that can alert you to issues. I’ve used a number of monitors over the years. One of my favorites at one point was phpservermonitor. It gave a nice screen of green and red squares to indicate what was up or down. I’ve tried munin, observium, opennms and a few others. These days my hands down favorite for server monitoring is Zabbix.

I really have come to believe you can monitor most anything with Zabbix. If you can find ANY way to pull data you can probably graph it, monitor it and set an alert if that changes. It’s geared for enterprise and can scale well. We use it for our systems as well as our client systems.

Have devices inside your network that you want monitored? We can setup a zabbix proxy for your local network. Have a custom script that checks for unusual login activity? We can pipe the output into Zabbix. It can consolidate ALL of those information flows. We’ve even implemented some of our own custom templates to be able to add alerts for our own use.

Do you want a text or email when a switch is down? Zabbix can do it. Want a big screen of red, orange and yellow alerts? Zabbix… Want to be able to set custom thresholds on the things it alerts about…. Zabbix can be customized as well. It is at the moment the centerpiece of our monitoring environment and the tool we use every day.

We still make use of some of our other monitoring systems. Most notably I still have found a use for phpservermonitor to give just a simple green/red light dashboard when necessary (without all the detailed alerts that Zabbix can give.) Monit is a good simple choice to deploy on servers to monitor a process and restart automatically if it fails (although Zabbix can do that as well….)

While system and network monitoring can seem expensive to set up. In the long run the time cost of implementing it can save quite a bit in lost productivity, and system down time. In just the past six months our monitoring framework has alerted when disk read/write errors increased on several systems. That allowed for pre-emptive hard drive replacements. It also has kept detailed logging so we can see big picture trends. Hmm… the ping response time spikes on the weekends. Let’s see what’s going on. It definitely helps with the “my internet is slow sometimes” kind of calls that we hear.

We use Zabbix to monitor just about everything… database replication, server status, we have a number of security monitoring templates and scripts, network connections, access points, routers, switches, websites, ssl certificates, performance and availability, available updates… the list could go on. Call us today to find out how we can help you keep your systems and network running more smoothly with monitoring solutions like Zabbix.