Everyone’s heard of Nagios, or at least they should have. A network monitoring tool with thousands of worldwide users, who’ve been using it for the last 15 years? What’s the problem?

We’re not saying Nagios doesn’t have its uses, but, given that it’s in such widespread use, sometimes it’s assumed that it’s the tool for any and every business, without stopping to ask if that’s really the case. Maybe we should be asking ourselves “What does my business need?” before reaching for a default solution.

With over ten years of experience in servers, networks and security to back us up, we boldly set out our ten reasons why it might not always be a good idea to install Nagios to manage a business monitoring service, in the case that you’d like your business to be an ongoing concern.


Technical aspects

1. Firstly, Nagios isn’t a product, it’s a project. Every time Nagios gets installed in a company it’s a bespoke installation, meaning that no two installations are the same. Ditto for deployment. In the long term this bespoke installation can turn problematic, if we would like to create an industry standard, with all the time-and-resource savings that implies. As things stand, systems techs in different companies will be writing different scripts to solve basically the same problem in the same environment. Obviously, this proliferation of solutions means no standardized troubleshoots are coming out of the Nagios open source community.

2. “Out-of-the=box” Nagios is pretty limited and has to be supplemented with various plugins, addons and third-party extensions, which end up turning any installation into a kind of software salad, without any kind of global vision or homogeneity

3. Being a made-to-measure project, Nagios depends on a limited team, some of whom may not even be present when you have a problem, and might not be able to help in any case. It’s hard to know where the buck stops with so many modifications to the core installation.

4. Nagios, with its static configuration, was never designed for dynamic environments, and is difficult to integrate into automatic provisioning processes. Scalability has never been Nagios’s strong point.

Business aspects

5. As monitoring gets more important for a company’s growth, you can find yourself depending on, not to say hostage to, a bunch of gurus, rather than a software manufacturer, with all the support that a standarized solution can offer.

6. Any problem that can’t be solved by your tech team will remain unsolved, especially if the setup has become increasingly idiosyncratic. Basically, nobody external to your company will have a clue. Only the people who’ve worked with your system will know all its ins and outs; what’s been changed, what’s been patched, and so on. In large companies system audits are mandatory, and these audits are usually carried out by the manufacturer of the software.

7. As an open source piece of software, Nagios might seem like a money-saving option (no annual licensing fees, right?), but, like any open source solution, it lacks a roadmap for the future of your business. Right now, it might seem like a good idea, but a couple of years down the line?

8. If your installation was done by a small team, and they decide to move on, you’re left with a canoe and no paddle; no support, no training, no documentation will be able to make up for the loss of the departed guru. Back to the drawing board.

9. It’s more costly to keep your Nagios guru employed, and doing a task which doesn’t provide any profits in itself, than to pay for a license, a training course and a technician.

It might seem like we’re blowing our own trumpet here, but the real aim of this article is to point out the many other monitoring solutions available besides Nagios itself. Keep in mind that there are dozens of software applications on the market, with licenses, support and training courses to provide the back-up you need, including Nagios XI, the licensed version of Nagios open source (just to show you we’re all about objectivity). You might not even need all the power of Pandora FMS Enterprise, and could easily get by with PRTG or WhatsUp Gold. We would only recommend Pandora FMS to those organizatons which really need that level of performance.

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