Just a short post to recommend a great monitoring system if you haven’t heard of it yet: Zabbix.
Zabbix has been around to the public since around 2001, and since 2004 as a stable version. However I see very few posts about it, and it is far less popular than Nagios, even though it is more feature rich. I have been using it since 2004, for various projects, and it is great. It is very simple to install, it had since the beginning Windows and Unix agents so you don’t need to set up SNMP on your network, and scales very well. I even use it to measure and keep track of the performance of my own dev machine.
However the most important feature that I find besides monitoring servers, performance availability history, graphics and charts, is that you can extend it and import application data easily!
So you can pretty much add any new server metrics, and most importantly bring application data to Zabbix. You just setup via the Web interface what command to run locally or via SSH, how often, and the type of value it returns. Zabbixtakes care of the rest. More info at: http://www.zabbix.com/documentation/1.8/manual/config/items#external_checks.
With it you are able to keep track of how your Web application is performing overtime, without having to write code to produce graphs and build a database structure to keep your data, it will aggregate data over time creating trends, so data is compacted.
A couple of examples, you can use it to keep track of sales, number of sessions per product of your site, the site’s current response time by type of page or product, number of subscriptions, code changes on production. And of course, program alerts, for example if sales are below an average for a given time, or if the number of sessions increase suddenly, or if sales drop after n minutes of a code change in production.
One of the reasons I bring it up, besides paying a small tribute to it, is that many of the graphs for the next posts, comes from Zabbix. Other cool features it has is that the Web frontend is PHP based, so it simple to edit and modify to your needs, and it is open source. So give it a try, you will soon be ditching Nagios and the like.