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Data-driven businesses need the latest monitoring metrics for a multi-dimensional perspective of their servers, networks, applications, and other infrastructure capabilities. Without the latest data, these organizations can't optimize security and performance protocols.
Zabbix touts itself as a "mature" and "effortless" open-source solution for network and application monitoring at the enterprise level, boasting "millions of metrics." But how does this platform stack up against other open-source solutions?
In this 2020 review of Zabbix, we list the pros, cons, and features of this monitoring tool and compare it to the various solutions from MetricFire.
MetricFire is a monitoring platform built on open-source monitoring technology including Graphite and Grafana. You can build Grafana dashboards based on your hosted Prometheus and Graphite data stores directly in the app. Check out our free trial, or sign up for a demo and talk to the team directly.
What is Zabbix?
Zabbix is open-source software for monitoring various IT components —networks, servers, cloud, virtual machines, you name it. Although the company offers a suite of services, it's most famous for its monitoring metrics, which comprise CPU load, disk space consumption, network utilization, and more. Basically, it provides metrics for almost the entire IT infrastructure stack.
Zabbix collects all these metrics from multiple sources:
- Web monitoring
- User service monitoring
- The multi-platform Zabbix agent
- SNMP/IPMI agents
- Other custom methods
Zabbix has been around for nearly 20 years, with an initial release in April 2001, and the most recent release in May 2020.
But it's not the only open-source monitoring solution out there. MetricFire has two separate products that help businesses collect, process, and analyze valuable data for monitoring purposes: Prometheus and Graphite.
- Prometheus: Open-source monitoring built on a "time series" — a sequence of data points indexed/graphed in chronological order. Users can facilitate queries, create graphs, set up time alerts, and receive and store data.
- Graphite: Push-based open-source software that supports monitoring tasks for networks, services, applications, and other infrastructure. It gathers data from various sources, and users can see data visualizations on stunning Grafana dashboards. (Grafana dashboards come with both Prometheus and Graphite products.)
Zabbix Features: How Do They Compare to MetricFire?
Zabbix has a native web interface, which presents data visuals from IT environments in a simple, accessible way. Users can view graphs, network maps, dashboards, reports, and even slideshows on a single pane of glass, so there are no switching tabs or screens. However, Zabbix products do not offer Grafana for visualization capabilities.
MetricFire's feature-rich Grafana dashboards let users see powerful visuals just the way they like. Users can personalize graphs and zoom into visualizations with a click of a mouse. There are all kinds of data sets to customize, including server delays and rebuild times. Plus, the multi-dimensional data model identifies metrics via names/tags.
You might worry about data security when using an open-source tool like Zabbix, but there's nothing to fear. There's powerful encryption between Zabbix components and various authentication methods such as Active Directory and Open LDAP.
On MetricFire, you get the flexibility of an open-source tool and the security benefits of a SaaS tool. Open-source Prometheus has a retention period of 15 days, which is beneficial if you don't want to keep data for too long. If you prefer, Hosted Prometheus lets you store data for up to 2 years in a secure, stable environment.
Zabbix API provides custom integration with multiple solutions, which optimizes tasks such as automation, graphing, ticketing, and configuration management.
MetricFire also has various integrations, with support for logging tools, Heroku, AWS, and much more. This way, you can execute and customize integrations with different APIs.
Zabbix User Support
Zabbix offers five user support tiers, and customers need to subscribe to one of these tiers to reach out to the company (even if it's just a phone call). Users at lower pricing tiers receive limited support and no certified expert training. A primary account manager is only assigned to customers at higher tiers. Zabbix doesn't publish prices for its support packages, so it's difficult to make comparisons with other open-source tools.
MetricFire provides the same level of support for all users, regardless of the product. This means all users can email, phone, or video call (via appear.in) a member of the team for free. Phone/email support is available 24 hours a day.
Is Zabbix Cheaper Than MetricFire?
Zabbix is free to use but comes with limitations. As previously mentioned, there are no visualization capabilities, but this might not bother small businesses that don't need in-depth monitoring and analysis.
MetricFire, on the other hand, offers visualizations through Grafana, and its open-source Prometheus and Graphite services are free to use. As there are no charges for support, this works out cheaper in the long run. Users who want greater monitoring capabilities and long-term storage can invest in Prometheus-as-a-Service, which includes Hosted Prometheus, Hosted Graphite, and Grafana. Prices start at $99 per month. You can also try free monitoring for 14 days.
Zabbix Customer Reviews
Zabbix currently holds a 4.2/5 rating on the software review website G2 (based on 114 reviews).
"There are different views about Zabbix which vary from person to person and from industry to industry," says one data analyst who works for a large enterprise. "The best part of Zabbix is the customization of alerts as per our needs/requirements."
"The interface is quite intuitive and simple, which allows for easy interaction when reviewing and controlling the generated alerts and, of course, its quick resolution," says another user. "Zabbix allows deep customization of conditions and alerts, giving you the ability to perform nearly any scripted action in a variety of scenarios."
However, there are things customers don't like. "Not a modern, user-friendly UI," says one DevOps engineer. "It could be much better."
"The problem is the interface, which in this new version is no longer very successful," says a mechanical engineer.
MetricFire has fewer customer reviews than Zabbix on G2 but holds the same score overall for its Hosted Graphic solution.
"We use Graphite to log Wi-Fi data from our customers to help track disconnections and potential issues within their network," says one user, who works for a mid-market company.
"Hosted Graphite is quite easy to use and highly secure," says another user. "I like how they offer the trial version for you to evaluate if you benefit from this solution. In terms of setting it up, it is quite easy, with few registration details. The pricing is extremely flexible."
Overall, this user says Hosted Graphite is a "fantastic platform."
Zabbix certainly benefits small businesses that need a simple monitoring solution. However, MetricFire offers greater insights with time-series data and visualizations, making it a better choice for growing and medium-sized businesses. Although Zabbix and MetricFire (open-source Prometheus and Graphite, to be exact) are both free, only MetricFire offers free customer support. Prospective customers should weigh up the costs and performance capabilities of both solutions.