Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Zabbix is a monitoring system suitable for different IT components, including networks, servers, virtual machines (VMs) and cloud services. Zabbix provides metrics such as network usage, CPU load, and disk space consumption. The software monitors operations on Linux, Hewlett Packard Unix (HP-UX), Mac OS X, Solaris, and other operating systems (OS);however, Windows monitoring is only possible through specific agents.
SOD offers you the service based on your needs. Once a first contact has been established, the customer is followed throughout the process of defining the perimeter and applying the monitoring system. Alert and control level are defined in accordance with the needs.
Monitoring system with and without agents
Zabbix can be used both with agents and without agents (software dedicated to collecting information in a system). Agents are optionally installed on IT components to monitor performance and collect data. The agent then responds to a centralized management server. This information is included in the reports or presented visually in the web-based graphical interface. If there is a problem with what is being monitored, the system sends a notification or warning to the user. Agentless monitoring performs the same type of monitoring by using existing resources in a system or device to emulate an agent.
The Zabbix web-based graphical interface allows users to visualize their IT environment via customizable dashboards based on widgets, charts, network maps, slideshows and reports. For example, a user can customize a report to show metrics associated with both SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on CPU loads.
The three discovery modes
The monitoring system offered works through three discovery mode options:
– Network discovery periodically scans an IT environment and records device type, IP address, status, uptime and downtime.
– Low-level discovery (LLD) automatically creates elements, triggers and graphs based on the discovered device. Low-level discovery can create metrics from Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) object identifiers, Windows services, Structured Query Language (SQL) queries, network interfaces, and more.
– Auto-discovery automatically starts monitoring any device discovered using a Zabbix agent.
With the distributed monitoring system, scripts run remotely collect data from multiple devices in distributed locations and combine them into a single dashboard or report, such as server availability across the country.
The system can send notifications via e-mail, sms, telephone calls, notifications via API based on predefined events in a user’s IT environment. Another way for users to stay updated on their IT environment is through vendor applications such as M7 Monitoring or applications of their own creation.
Agentless monitoring system
Zabbix offers several monitoring options in addition to agents. A simple check can verify the availability and responsiveness of a standard service, such as notifications.
Java management extensions (JMX), web monitoring, and other methods are also alternatives to using agents. In the service offered, JMX can be used to monitor Java based applications. Web monitoring is used to check the availability of websites and supports HTTP and HTTPS. The system collects data relating to the average download speed of a scenario, errors and error messages, response times and more.
The Zabbix API
The Zabbix API consists of many methods which are grouped into separate APIs, each of which performs a specific service. For example, one method to create a new host is host.create; the method to log in as administrator is user.login. Using the API, monitoring system users can create applications to work with and view desired information.
Templates are custom add-ons that extend the functionality of the monitoring system offered. Some models are made by Zabbix and come packaged with ready-to-use software, while others are built by users. Templates allow Zabbix users to monitor network devices from vendors such as Cisco, Dell, HP and Juniper. Other models can be used to monitor IBM, HP and Super Micro servers. Templates for application-based services include Microsoft Exchange and Exchange Server, Zenoss, PowerDNS, Authoritative Server Stats, and more. Templates can be created to monitor operating systems as well.
SOD provides an advanced monitoring system service that will allow you to keep your entire IT infrastructure under control. The monitoring possibilities are very wide and we have covered them in another article. The web interface facilitates the management and control for your perimeter, adding the possibility to set customized alarms and specific templates for every need.
If you are interested in the service, you can test it and see it working in our demo. Registration is required but no payment. Contact us for further questions or request a consultation, we are at your disposal.
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An indispensable tool for keeping complex infrastructure controlled is a monitoring system. Secure Online Desktop (SOD) Web Console does just that: it offers the tools to control a network of machines and devices to verify its efficiency. Web Console is based on Zabbix, a scalable Open Source platform with huge capabilities.
Among the advantages of the SOD Web Console, there are the possibility of using agent less under some circumstances the great possibility of customization. The platform offered allows scripting in various languages, including Python, Perl or directly in the shell, just to give examples.
Monitoring with Web Console and Zabbix
To collect data from the infrastructure, it is necessary to install so-called software agents for the machines to be monitored. These software use native processes and free from the need to have dedicated environments such as Java or .Net.
The data collected by the agents are sent to a server that collects all the metrics and provides them to the console. From here it is then possible to analyze them, manipulate them and set triggers of notifications or automations useful for management.
When communicating between the components of the Zabbix monitoring system, only authorized IPs are accepted. Since the other connections are not accepted, security is guaranteed during data transfers between the software.
Web Console functionality
Every aspect of the infrastructure can be monitored through the Web Console offered by SOD. Even if it is not possible to install additional software, there is a limited control action without agents installed. This solution allows you to collect metrics on the responsiveness and availability of standard services, such as mail or web servers.
Scalability of data collection
The Zabbix system offered by the SOD Web Console is able to recover data and metrics from any device or software. Through the use of different control protocols, the available software agents are able to collect any type of data.
Through the Zabbix agents used, the data collected is complete and includes both hardware and software metrics.
For example, metrics from infrastructure network hardware are collected by SNMP agents. An optimal solution for network capacity management and planning. The measurements include the use of memory, CPU, RAM and the status of the logical ports of the controlled peripherals.
The controls include more levels of system complexity. Agents can collect information from:
– Hardware (CPU, fans, storage media, etc.)
– Network (ports used, memory usage, etc.)
– Operating systems (Unix, Windows, MacOs, etc.)
– Middleware software (Oracle, MySql, Apache, etc.)
– Web applications
– Cloud resources
Monitoring web services
The built-in system for monitoring web services is worthy of specific mention.
Through the use of this function, it is possible to define the sequential steps to be performed for the analysis of a website. It is possible to monitor the site response speed and downloads, for example. But also availability, as well as data relating to e-commerce portals and other web based applications.
SOD Web Console is scalable and adaptable to the size of the infrastructure. From the small corporate IT network, to even very complex solutions from thousands of machines and devices. A single installation can support up to 3,000,000 checks per minute, collecting gigabytes of data per day.
Furthermore, through the use of proxy software components, it is possible to distribute the data collection and decentralize the calculation operations. In this way the control of ports and connections is more easily managed.
You can organize your network into sections where metrics are collected and calculated independently. The proxy in charge of the calculation will be the only connection outgoing from the subsystem.
Notifications and triggers
An efficient monitoring strategy provides not only the collection of data, but also a system for which any anomaly is reported in order to be able to intervene promptly.
The SOD Web Console implements a customizable system of triggers and notifications to be always informed in case something is not going as it should.
Ideally, once the first data is collected, the thresholds of values considered “normal” are established. On the basis of these, a notification system is customized which immediately communicates the exceeding of a safety threshold of certain parameters.
The management of metrics is thus very lightened by an automatic verification of their values. When a parameter presents an anomalous value, one would be immediately informed.
The notification methods supported are: email, SMS, Jabber or through other methods customizable through scripting.
How to request and install Web Console
It is possible to request SOD Web Console after a first initial meeting with our network architect. On that occasion, the computer perimeters of the network to be monitored and what the alarm notification modes are defined.
After this first step, our team will take care of installing all the software needed to collect metrics on the systems involved. Once these operations are completed, the system will be ready and accessible from a console in the cloud. The access data are provided only after the installation of the entire control system.
From the Web Console you will be able to check all monitored metrics, check performance and manage notifications.
In recent years we have witnessed a rapid evolution of information infrastructures that have become increasingly complex and heterogeneous. The introduction of virtualization, thanks to the economic savings and its simplicity, has encouraged the increase in the number of servers divided then by functions and roles. Technologies like the Cloud have allowed to extend the company boundaries, just think of the hybrid Cloud or the public Cloud where previously physical servers that were physically present in the company have evolved in virtual instances in executions on more Datacenter also geographically distributed on the globe. Last but not least, the IoT (Internet of Things) has contributed to enrich the network of devices on the network and that it is necessary to manage.
The age of check-lists
Not many years ago, the system operators had sufficient check-lists, regularly performed according to work procedures, to monitor the company server pool and thus ensure the correct functioning of all the IT components, with particular attention to the business critical systems. Today this approach, as well as expensive, would be ineffective, mainly because of how the company infrastructure has evolved. The manual controls would become not only numerous but also unmanageable and with an inherently high degree of error. Moreover, in this scenario, it is not possible to guarantee a correct timeliness in the identification of a problem or in the management of a breakdown.
The evolution of the IT model has introduced the need to introduce new ways of controlling the network that are automated or semi-automated, distributed and above all pro-active / reactive. In fact, solutions have been developed capable of managing an increasingly high, heterogeneous and distributed number of network devices. The new monitoring systems are also able to set the frequency of the measurements based on the metrics observed, increasing it for those values in continuous change that it is necessary to observe therefore continuously and decreasing it for the more static ones. For example, disk space occupation in some environments may vary less than the network bandwidth. This precaution allows to optimize the resources of the monitoring avoiding to measure continuously less dynamic variables.
The evolutions of these monitoring systems have also made it possible to collect data centrally with the possibility of comparing different metrics to each other thus obtaining the composed metrics. Not merely measuring a single metric but comparing its value in relation to another (even different systems) has extended the concept of monitoring.
Item and Trigger
In the systems world or systems monitoring applications there are two basic concepts such as Item and Trigger. The first, Item, represent the metrics or the value (numeric, Boolean, textual) measured or to be measured (eg cluster status, CPU usage, disk usage, etc) while the seconds, Triggers, are the thresholds that you want to apply to a certain Item to check its value. For example, you may need to set two Triggers to monitor the volume occupation of a SAN by receiving a first notification if this exceeds 80% of the maximum capacity and a second in the case of 90%. This modular feature (Item and Trigger) allows for example to simply monitor the trend of a given metric (eg data center band) without necessarily applying a triggger to the measurement or allows to apply more thresholds to the same item to monitor the change in value reporting the change with different actions based on the triggers.
Upon the occurrence of a certain condition identified by the triggers, it is possible to perform a specific action such as sending an email, a text message, a VoIP call or running a program. For example, you could monitor a log file (item log file equal to catalina.log) and upon the occurrence of a certain condition (trigger that verifies the presence of a certain pattern) restart the relative application. In addition to being automated, actions can also be manual, leaving the monitoring system operator the possibility to apply them when it is deemed most appropriate.
Solution for monitoring the IT infrastructure
The Secure Online Desktop provides its customers with two monitoring services:
◊ IT monitoring service: This service is a complete solution for monitoring the customer’s IT infrastructure without needing to install additional hardware. The solution involves the use of a Cloud management console and a set of specific software agents that our staff will install.
◊ Managed monitoring service: This service is an add-on to the Cloud Server service that plans to monitor the Cloud servers that the customer buys.
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