22 December 2009

Zabbix open source monitoring

ZABBIX (visit http://www.zabbix.com) is an open source distributed monitoring solution for enterprise level applications. It is capable of providing detailed networking information as well as polling servers to establish their health.

ZABBIX was created by Alexei Vladishev, and currently is actively developed and
supported by ZABBIX SIA.

It is possible to configure ZABBIX to email alerts to the administrator for just about any event. This means that even if you have several servers to watch you will be able to react quickly to any arising problem.

ZABBIX code is released under the GPL2 license ( General Public License 2 ). It is free to use and requires no licensing fees. The ZABBIX company offers both free and commercial support options.

My company currently has 8 production servers, three of which host mission critical applications and databases. It is possible for one of our operations staff to remotely login to each machine, check the status of the applications, do a trace on the database, check the logs... do you see how time consuming this can be? Of course we're also assuming that the operations staff is willing to do this 24/7!

Today I'll be implementing this open source solution. Lets see how it goes :)


I've now been using Zabbix for some time and have found it to be a generally positive experience. It does a good job of monitoring my servers, is fairly intuitive to set up, and has even landed our company a support contract. One thing that did bother me is that it insists on using a PHP function that the official PHP guide views as not being ready for production (see my later post here). I posted a question on the Zabbix forums and received no feedback from the community.

Oddly the most difficult part of getting Zabbix working was to reconfigure the rules on my firewall. I've inherited a messy set of rules, many of which apply to conditions that have ceased to exist within the company. Integrating new rules into this spaghetti requires concentration.

My next Zabbix challenge will be to implement the SMS send routines with a GSM modem. The documentation suggests that this should be easy as Zabbix natively supports SMS notification. Experience has shown me that very little promised in Linux documentation actually comes true. No doubt there will be a driver incompatibility, some software problem, or some other reason to make Zabbix misbehave.

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