Choosing an efficient IT infrastructure monitoring system for your business can be overwhelming, as you need to take many features, factors, and functionalities into consideration. Technical and business requirements need to be assessed, in addition to examining any anomalies in the deployment or support processes. The level of competence of your IT specialists also is another key consideration.
In this blog, we have compared features, functionalities, key differences, advantages, and disadvantages of the two monitoring systems Zabbix and Nagios.
Note: In this blog, we have discussed key features of Nagios Core (the free version), and not Nagios XI (the paid version of Nagios).
Let us start with the basics before getting into the key differences.
Nagios Core – A Brief
Nagios is an industry-standard, open-source IT infrastructure monitoring solution. The tool is created to enable monitoring computer networks and systems, enabling tracking and controlling of computer node status, and notifying admins in case any system or service has stopped working.
Nagios enables companies like yours to pinpoint and fix issues in your IT infrastructure before things get out of hand and affect pivotal business processes. This allows system administrators sufficient time to perform remediation operations way before outages start affecting end-users, business processes, or clients.
The tool is capable of monitoring the entire IT infrastructure to ensure the smooth performance of your systems, services, operations, and business processes.
Zabbix – A Brief
Zabbix is a complete, open-source, and enterprise-level monitoring software. While Nagios is designed to monitor your IT infrastructure, Zabbix is a large-scale distributed monitoring tool that is capable of monitoring any and every platform and device. You may use it to track the status of several services of a computer network, servers, and network equipment and to perform complex monitoring of infrastructure, including servers, virtual machines, and network devices.
Zabbix is known for its scalability. Moreover, it is a monitoring tool that you can rely on as it will be running in the background at all times. It offers many data collection and reporting tools that allow you to measure any data point or event you wish to. It has the competency of handling thousands of synchronous devices.
Now that we have covered the basics, here is a comprehensive comparison between Nagios Core and Zabbix.
Zabbix vs Nagios Core – An In-Depth Comparison
Nagios Core and Zabbix are both open-source tools and free to use. Though Zabbix is absolutely free, Nagios offers a paid edition for enterprises. The Enterprise version, Nagios XI’s pricing commences from $2,000.
By subscribing and upgrading from the Core (free version) to the Nagios XI (paid edition), you enjoy no-demand scaling capabilities, multi-tenant abilities, infrastructure monitoring tools, graphs for capacity planning, and hundreds of other useful add-ons.
Zabbix does not have a separate ‘Enterprise’ or paid version. However, the company does offer various other paid support services to its customers who need it.
Setup & Installation
The installation and setup processes of both Zabbix and Nagios are simple. If you have basic network monitoring knowledge and Linux experience, the installation should not take more than an hour for any of the two. Though installing and setting up both is pretty easy, Nagios was found to be just a little more complicated in terms of installation as compared to Zabbix.
Dashboard & UI
Now that we have understood the pricing of the two tools let us move on to discuss their user interfaces (basically, their dashboards). It is important for you to understand the dashboard features of these tools as it will be where you would be spending most of your time.
Nagios likes to keep things simple. The software gives insight into your infrastructure health through its color-coded display. It categorizes the statuses of network devices and services through various tags like Ok, Unknown, Warning, Critical, and Pending. In addition to this, a navigation tree is also available that lets you see where important pages, like alerts, notifications, and trends, are located.
Zabbix, on the other hand, has a more appealing, defined dashboard. The user interface is color-coded and entirely customizable. Though Zabbix offers a more personalized experience and has a distinct design advantage, users do need basic coding knowledge to make the most of the available design features.
A big challenge faced by new users in Nagios is that the entire configuration has to be performed in text files. Be it the key configuration file or the configuration required for defining the services and hosts that need to be monitored, every type of configuration has to be done using text files. So, you need someone experienced in writing these text files to unlock the power of Nagios. On the contrary, Zabbix’s configuration can be swiftly managed through its sophisticated web interface.
To make the setup process of services and networks to be monitored easier and faster, Zabbix has created and included templates. Zabbix offers templates for IMAP, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, LDAP, NNTP, MySQL, SMTP, POP, SSH, and Telnet.
Though Nagios provides no such templates, it may not really be a big problem. You can find and use what you are searching for with the help of Nagios’s huge community and history.
Notifications & Alerts
Monitoring networks manually is not 100% efficient or advisable. Even if you hire someone to monitor your network 24 hours a day, they would not be able to spot every single event that may affect your network in a harmful way. This is why the alerts and notifications feature of network monitoring tools has proven to be handy.
Both Zabbix and Nagios Core provide users with alerts and notification systems. Both of these tools can notify you through SMS or email when unauthorized or problematic activity is detected. Nagios offers multi-level alerts through which you may designate events with messages denoting error, warning, or an okay. This gives you the power to prioritize which events happening are important.
The alerts and notification system of Zabbix is also good as it lets you customize the message content. You can create messages that include information like hostname, host profile, date and time, item value, user macros, trigger value, and escalation history which is useful for ensuring that no relevant information is missed.
What gives Zabbix the edge in terms of alerts system is its escalation abilities. If the initial message does not get any response, the message gets forwarded to another recipient. In case there is no one to respond to the issue at hand, Zabbix is also capable of executing a command of action automatically.
A key feature of both these network monitoring tools is data visualization. However, Zabbix is the one that is by default equipped with graphs that enable you to view your network and system data in the form of insightful charts to get a deeper understanding of what is going on.
On the other hand, in Nagios Core, you will have to install the plugin NagVis to view graphs. Though downloading and installing the plugin is not a tough task, the lack of the feature had to be pointed out. Out of the two, the visualization of Zabbix is much better than Nagios.
Features for Autodiscovery
Zabbix and Nagios Core, both run autodiscovery. In Nagios Core, there is a plugin called NagiosQL that autodiscovers devices in your network. Meaning when the tool is launched, Nagios will start searching for devices automatically and won’t have to be added manually. The NagiosQL plugin can be easily activated from the Nagios exchange website.
In Zabbix, users can determine IP ranges for scanning and the tool will search for new devices from time to time. Zabbix, again, has an in-built feature for autodiscovery which makes things easier for its users.
The use of protocols is directly linked with system monitoring capability. In terms of protocol support, Zabbix and Nagios Core match each other evenly. Both monitoring tools support a wide range of protocols, including FTP, HTTP, SNMP, SNTP, SSH, POP3, and MySQL.
When it comes to plugins, Nagios is a clear winner as it has hundreds of plugins that can be integrated with Nagios Core. Though not all plugins in Nagios are useful, many others are. Zabbix is a powerful, comprehensive tool, but the lack of plugins had to be mentioned.
Nagios has been operational way longer than Zabbix, which is the reason Nagios has a bigger, more active, and more vibrant community as compared to Zabbix. This could also be because Nagios has a wider user install base.
To help you figure out which monitoring software is better for you, we have listed the pros and cons of Nagios Core and Zabbix individually.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Nagios Core
|You can add comments along with time tags.||Apart from the network map, there is a lack of in-built features for data visualization.|
|Useful plugins for any infrastructure monitoring situation via 3rd-party manufacturers.||In Nagios Core, no functionality to configure directly via a web interface. Changes in configuration have to be made by editing configuration files from scratch.|
|Simple-to-execute text file configuration.||Scaling up or down is a complicated process without the use plugins provided by third-party manufacturers.|
|Minimal coding experience is needed to write code plugins.||Installation of every plugin you need has to be done separately.|
Advantages & Disadvantages of Zabbix
|Is absolutely free to use.||Zero resilience.|
|Easy configuration via web interface and API. The configuration can be managed with the help of a web interface and stored in a database.||Every piece of monitoring data and information is stored in a database. This requires dedicating separate computing capacities for catering to a database in bigger networks.|
|One single point of access for all users.||Networks, workstations, and servers and workstations are continuously monitored via an agent running round the clock.|
|Zabbix does not use test results for analyzing. It uses operation performance data selected from servers.|
|Utilitarian functionalities and features for analyzing collected data.|
|Data storage is only limited by disk space.|
|Scaling up and down is easy.|
Nagios is, undoubtedly, an efficient, extendable tool. However, its configuration can be a bit time-consuming and complicated. Its paid version (Nagios XI) consists of a graphic environment but, depending on certain factors, costs between $2,000 to $5,000. On the other hand, Zabbix can be used by IT specialists who have little experience in administration. This is in lieu of low-complexity installation and configuration processes established for almost all monitoring tasks.
Looking at the thorough comparison of the two software, Zabbix seems to be the better option of the two. Though we have compared the features of the two software and found Zabbix to be better, your final choice of a monitoring system could differ, depending on various other organizational and business-related factors.