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Which Infrastructure Monitoring Tools Are Right for You? On-Premises vs. SaaS

Level 10

If, like me, you believe we’re living in a hybrid IT world when it comes to workload placement, then it would make sense to also consider a hybrid approach when deploying IT infrastructure monitoring solutions. What I mean by this is deciding where to physically run a monitoring solution, be that on-premises or in the public cloud.

I work for a value-added reseller, predominantly involved with deploying infrastructure for virtualization, end-user computing, disaster recovery, and Office 365 solutions. During my time I’ve run a support team offering managed services for a range of different-sized customers from SMB to SME, and managing several different monitoring solutions. They range from SaaS products to bolster our managed service offering to customers’ locally installed monitoring applications. Each has its place and there are reasons for choosing one platform over another.

Licensing Models

Or what I really mean, how much does this thing cost?

Typically for an on-premises solution, there will be a one-off upfront cost and then a yearly maintenance plan. This is called perpetual licensing. The advantage here is that you own the product with the initial purchase, and then maintaining the product support and subscription entitles you to future upgrades and support. Great for a CapEx investment.

SaaS offerings tend to be a monthly cost. If you stop paying, you no longer have access to the solution. This is called subscription licensing. Subscription licensing is more flexible in that you can scale up or scale down the licenses required on a month-by-month basis. I will cover more on this in a future blog post.

Data Gravity

This is physically where the bulk of your application data resides, be that on-premises or in the public cloud. Some applications need to be close to their data so they can run quickly and effectively, and a monitoring solution should take this into consideration. It could be bad to have a SaaS-based monitoring solution if you have time-sensitive data running on-premises that needs near-instantaneous alerts. Consider time sensitivity and criticality when deciding what a monitoring solution should deliver for you. If being alerted about something up to 15 minutes after an event has occurred is acceptable, then a SaaS solution for on-premises workloads could be a good fit.

Infrastructure to Run a Monitoring Solution

Some on-premises monitoring solutions can be resource-intensive, which can prove problematic if the existing environment is not currently equipped to run it. This could lead to further CapEx expenditure for new hardware just to run the monitoring solution, which in turn is something else that will need to be monitored. SaaS, in this instance, could be a good fit.

Also, consider this: do you want to own and maintain another platform, or do you want a SaaS provider to worry about it? If we compare email solutions like Exchange and Exchange Online, Exchange is in many instances faster for user access and you have total control over how to run the solution. Exchange Online, however, is usually good enough and removes the hassle of managing an Exchange server. Ask yourself: do you need good enough or do you need some nerd knobs to turn?


A lot of this article may seem obvious, but the key to choosing a monitoring solution is to start out with a set of criteria that fits your needs and then evaluate the marketplace. Personally, I’ve started with lists with X, Y, and Z requirements with a weighting on each item. Whichever product scored the highest ended up being the best choice.

To give you an idea of those requirements, I typically start out with things like:

  • Is the solution multi-tenanted?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How is it licensed?
  • What else can it integrate with (like a SIEM solution, etc.)?

  A good end product is always the result of meticulous preparation and planning.

Level 14

Thanks for the article!

Level 15

Interesting article.  The one thing I have not heard anyone say regarding the hybrid setup.  The bandwidth required to connect to the cloud.  SaaS licensing at times make it look more appealing but I work in healthcare and as one of the primary targets for breaches, on-prem is considered a better solution for protection.  That being said, I would like to see more more detailed analysis on the bandwidth requirements to effectively provide a Hybrid IT envrionment.

Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking article.

Level 10

Good write up. Thank you. I like to see this subject from anothers' point of view. It gives readers insight into common networking and monitoring issues that they may have little or no knowledge of. Knowledge is power... and I bet that those who take the time to read it will be glad that they did, because it got them thinking about something that they had not previously considered. Especially licensing. Even if you know all about the licensing for your current physical set up, you may never have considered the savings if you virtualize versus going with a cloud solution or "as a service" solution. It just gets you thinking from a different point of view.

Thanks again

Level 16

Thanks for the write up. I would probably say a mix of both. For example you may have Solarwinds for your infrastructure and in house synthetic transaction monitoring but you want your externally facing websites to also be monitored using synthetic transactions.

Do you spin up your own 'robots' and deploy them around the world or just use an external vendors already deployed synthetic monitoring?

Level 10

Thanks for reading

Exactly that, there is no one size fits all. Each solution that requires monitoring needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.


Thanks for the article.

To each environment must go its own monitoring.  Internal for internal, Cloud for cloud.  With occasional crossovers and hybrids for resilience and redundancy.

Level 13

thanks for the article

Level 12

SaaS is something my manager has asked me to look into for some of our in-house solutions. This article gave me some more things to think about!