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Five Ways that Nagios Costs You Money

Level 11

While Nagios is open source and "free," it has hidden time and effort sinks that can really add up.

ChristineB has a blog that outlines Five Reasons Free Costs Too Much.

Here's a the big five:

  • Time consuming
  • Poor scalability
  • Diffuculty adding apps
  • DIY attitude
  • High switching costs

Read more about these money sinks here.

4 Comments
haroldrelm
Level 9

Do you have any thoughts on their commercial product, Nagios XI?

LokiR
Level 11

Hi there,

According to my sources, the paid version of Nagios has made some headway in improving their UI. However, it looks like you still need to DIY with application and server templates.

It looks like it boils down to "you get what you pay for." If you pay 'real' money for Nagios, it's easier to use, though you still have to jump through some hoops and add in extra effort to monitor servers and applications.

nrms
Level 12

I've used Nagios previously, and I have to admit I didn't find it took up too much of my time once I'd got my head around SNMP (Nagios was my first experience in the world of monitoring and SNMP) and found useful resources and ways to order my config files. Plus it gave me something to occupy my mind during lulls in activity (which were fairly frequent in a ~30 user environment).

However, the network I was monitoring was small - a handful of basic Windows servers with no major services beyond the ordinary.

I think part of it probably comes down to the size of what you want to monitor. Whilst I wouldn't hesitate to reccommend SolarWinds to anyone in principle; there would be cases where I would have to turn around and say "BUT..." Because SolarWinds is such a powerful product, it costs. I'm not sure I would advise a small office with a couple of servers and a few desktops to go with SolarWinds - a "free" solution like Nagios would probably be more economical even after considering consultancy time for installing, setting up, testing, etc. There is also the fact that Nagios can run on a fairly basic desktop PC also makes the initial outlay a lot less than the higher spec machines required for a SolarWinds deployment.

I've not looked into their supported version, so I can't comment on how much better that makes things. I also seem to recall breifly playing with an add-on for Nagios (NagiosQL comes to mind) which used a MySQL database and web interface to manage the config of what was being monitored; but I left the job shortly after I started with that so never really got to assess its full potential.

I guess a lot comes down to the individual user. It is too easy to say "pro software is expensive" or "free software costs more through 'hidden costs'", but at the end of the day there is no-size-applies-to-all argument.

On a slight aside; in some ways knowledge of Nagios is probably not a bad thing for SolarWinds bods... The good thing about SolarWinds is it can hide a lot of the gubbins from us and makes things easy. Nagios requires a greater knowledge of what is going on under the hood and can probably help improve our understanding of the background concepts rather than knowing you just have to click a couple of buttons to do something.

*ponders spending his weekend setting up a VM and refreshing the Nagios skills as a just-in-case*

jkump
Level 15

I used both Nagios and cacti I found them beneficial for taking on Solarwinds.  Thanks!