Table of Contents
- Why is Network Monitoring so important?
- Tools for Network Monitoring
- Other Network Monitoring Software (Honorable Mentions)
- How to Choose Open Source Network Monitoring Tools
- How MetricFire Can Help!
Network monitoring is a critical component of your network management strategy that provides valuable insights into network-related problems which can affect your organization. When you monitor networks regularly, you'll mitigate risks like overloaded networks, router problems, downtime, cybercrime, and data loss.
Network monitoring lets you:
- Understand over-used and under-used network elements.
- Fix minor network faults that often turn into significant problems.
- Identify cybersecurity threats.
- Safeguard critical data.
- Proactively monitor network devices, servers, and network traffic.
- Analyze network performance and bandwidth usage in real-time.
- Prevent network outages and downtime.
All successful companies invest in network monitoring tools that provide accurate insights into performance, speed, security, and productivity. Open source tools come with additional benefits such as easy customization, lower costs, independence, scalability, and stability. But which open source monitoring tool is best for your organization in 2021?
MetricFire boasts a suite of open source monitoring tools for servers, applications, systems, networks, and other business-critical infrastructure. Easy to configure and implement in your organization, MetricFire offers Prometheus and Graphite solutions for displaying monitoring metrics on highly-functional Grafana dashboards. Discover MetricFire here, book a demo, or sign up for a free trial!
Why is Network Monitoring so important?
Network monitoring is the bedrock of network management, providing enterprises with real-time insights into network elements, performance, productivity, and security. When you monitor networks, you can identify security risks and other anomalies quickly.
You can also prevent irreversible damage to your servers, systems, and infrastructure. Implement network monitoring into your organization and build better networks with low latency and higher speeds. Organizations invest in network monitoring for multiple reasons.
Security is a top priority for most enterprises, and network monitoring identifies cybercrime, insider threats, and unauthorized network access. Companies that provide goods and services to customers also use network monitoring to reduce downtime and outages.
Another benefit of network monitoring is measuring over-used and under-used network elements. This improves network performance with less waste of valuable resources, giving you more bang for your buck. Minor changes to networks have an enormous impact on workflows, slowing down productivity and reducing cybercrime.
Organizations are able to use network monitoring to stay on top of vital elements and fix minor issues before they become problems, keeping the business flowing smoothly. Organizations should facilitate network monitoring regularly to get value.
However, this is extremely time-consuming and typically involves a large, which can be very costly. Network monitoring tools, therefore, prove useful for organizations that lack these resources.
Tools for Network Monitoring
There are two types of network monitoring tools:
- Open source network monitoring tools
- Proprietary network monitoring tools
Proprietary network monitoring tools are available under license. These tools can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. An example of a proprietary network monitoring tool is Orion. Open source networking monitoring tools are copyright-free and available to all organizations, regardless of size.
These tools are customizable, scalable, and robust, providing companies with a low-cost, effective alternative to proprietary software. Open source tools work in the same way as proprietary tools, and there are many of them available on the market.
Organizations use open-source network monitoring to identify network issues, improve network performance, and generate real-time insights into:
- Bandwidth usage
- Network connections
- Network health
- Unauthorized access and cyber security
- Network performance
By implementing an open-source networking tool into your organization, you can identify network problems quickly and prevent downtime and other issues that affect your profits and productivity. So which network monitoring platform should you choose? Here are nine of the best open-source tools for 2021.
Graphite is an open-source FOSS tool that tracks time-series data such as network performance. The platform then displays this data for users on a dashboard, simplifying network management considerably. Though Graphite is one of the most-used open-source tools for network monitoring, the platform has many limitations.
Users are not able to view insights as teams or extract and load data to an external database or data warehouse. Still, Graphite's excellent reporting capabilities help organizations spot network deficiencies quickly.
Pro-tip: Supercharge Graphite with additional features such as team accounts, granular dashboard permissions, AWS integration, Heroku integration, logging tools, and a built-in agent. Click here to learn how Graphite as a Service from MetricFire will transform your business.
Prometheus is an open-source network monitoring tool that alerts users about all kinds of network-related issues such as low latency, memory utilization, and cyber crime. Built at SoundCloud, Prometheus searches for metrics from network tasks and displays them in an easy-to-use dashboard for analysis.
It runs on Windows operating systems and supports a variety of networking infrastructure such as Cisco. Other features include Netflow flow analysis. Network problems range in severity, and Prometheus distinguishes between minor issues and major problems so you won't receive hundreds of notifications. (The platform only alerts you about serious network vulnerabilities.)
Pro-tip: Optimize Prometheus with better scalability, long-term storage, and full support. Discover MetricFire's hosted Prometheus solution for growing enterprises like yours.
Zabbix is a free network monitoring system that checks all kinds of infrastructure, including networks. Thousands of organizations use this platform for performance insights into packet loss, network mode, connections, CPU, memory utilization, and bandwidth.
You can schedule network monitoring and receive instant notifications about problems such as network over-use/under-use. This automation prevents you from having to check networks manually, freeing up resources and team members.
How does Zabbix compare to Prometheus? Find out here.
Nagios Core (formerly Nagios) is one of the most popular open-source infrastructure monitoring tools, with enhanced monitoring capabilities for networks, systems, and servers. The self-described "industry standard in IT infrastructure monitoring," Nagios schedules and automates monitoring tasks for better network performance.
Easy to configure, Nagios alerts you to network performance and security issues so you can take swift action and prevent further problems. You can also manage networks from a simple dashboard that provides real-time analytics about crashed servers, slow applications, and more.
Nagios offers additional capabilities with plugins and extensions through the Nagios Exchange.
Learn how Nagios compares to Graphite here.
Monitorix is a network monitoring solution for the Linux ecosystem that shows network-related information as basic graphs for further analysis. As a free solution, Monitorix has limitations, but the platform is effective at detecting failures, long response times, and network security issues.
Monitorix describes itself as "lightweight." Users might notice the platform doesn't have many of the advanced network monitoring features or performance capabilities of Zabbix and Nagios.
Icinga (now available as Icinga 2) is an open-source monitoring application for network-related issues with lots of alerting and metrics. It checks network resource availability, outages, security vulnerabilities, and other network problems and generates metrics on an easy-to-use API. Other features include SNMP monitoring, auto-discovery, and tracking tools for your entire IT infrastructure.
This platform proves a useful addition to your tech stack, but it lacks some features of more comprehensive network monitoring tools like Graphite and Prometheus. Still, its functionality and usability make it a perfect choice for smaller organizations or beginners.
Cacti is a web-based RRDTool-based graphing solution and networking monitoring platform that generates accurate network metrics for your organization. Features include unlimited graph items, graph data manipulation, customizable data gathering scripts, SNMP support, and auto-padding for graphs.
The front end is able to handle multiple users, allowing each their own graph sets. This makes it an ideal choice for web hosting providers, because it allows them to display bandwidth statistics for their customers.
If you're new to network monitoring, you might find Cacti has quite a difficult learning curve. But, because this is an open-source solution, it won't cost you anything to try Cacti with your network devices.
LibreNMS is an auto-discovering PHP and MySQL-based platform for network monitoring. Although web-based, the tool is mobile-friendly, so you can monitor networks when you're away from the office. And, best of all, you don't need a large monitoring team.
LibreNMS supports many network hardware and operating systems, such as Linux, Cisco, Foundry and Juniper. It is equipped with horizontal scaling capabilities that expand with your network of choice. Other features include custom alerting and notifications via Slack and email.
Observium is network monitoring software that supports Cisco, Windows, Dell, HP, VMware, and other network types and devices. With a simple user interface, add-ons, and lots of alerting features, you can optimize network infrastructure and network performance.
Adding devices to Observium is easy. However, if you do run into any problems, there are a lot of help and troubleshooting resources to help you sort it all out.
Other Network Monitoring Software (Honorable Mentions)
- Pandora FMS: Lots of scalability and scope.
- Ping Monitor: Effectively identifies network infrastructure problems.
- OpenNMS: Enterprise-grade network monitoring.
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor: Loads of network performance features such as system health monitoring, bandwidth accounting, virtual system monitoring, server monitoring, and more.
- PRTG Network Monitor: Self-described as an "all-in-one network monitoring solution," PRTG Network Monitor has various network performance features.
How to Choose Open Source Network Monitoring Tools
Organizations don't need to consider price when choosing an open-source network monitoring solution. However, they should realize these platforms typically offer fewer features and capabilities than paid-for software. (A lack of customer support and fewer team accounts, for example.)
Still, open-source monitoring tools come with benefits that paid-for software can't provide, such as copyright-free licenses, no contracts, transparency, and compatibility with other platforms. Using MetricFire's suite of tools provides your organization with the best of both worlds.
Network monitoring is more important than ever for network management. Identifying threats that limit network performance increases productivity, security, and performance in your organization. All network monitoring tools spot network-related inconsistencies, bottlenecks, and failures, but open-source tools provide additional benefits.
These perks include copyright-free licenses, greater flexibility, vendor independence, and the ability to monitor your infrastructure for free. The tools on this list identify security risks, latency problems, slow performance, CPU issues, downtime, over usage/under usage, and much more. Choose a platform that best serves your business requirements.
How MetricFire Can Help!
MetricFire offers hosted open-source solutions that optimize Prometheus and Graphite, two of the most popular network monitoring tools on the market. Investing in MetricFire solutions such as hosted Graphite, hosted Prometheus, and beautiful Grafana data visualizations lets you supercharge your existing network monitoring strategies.