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Nagios XI (This is a commercial implementation of Nagios) can graph as well as send alerts based on threshold conditions. I am not able to understand the difference between Nagios and Cacti. Any idea regarding the differences between the two?

I would prefer not duplicating effort.

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I haven't used them in a few years so I'll comment instead of answer. Nagios (to me) was better at monitoring and alerts, while Cacti was better for graphing. Cacti can send alerts too, but Nagios always seemed better suited for the task. Curious what others say. –  TheCleaner Dec 20 '12 at 20:00
    
IMO Cacti is better for graphing network interfaces usage than Nagios. If you have a lot of switches then adding all the network interfaces to Nagios is problematic. I'm using Cacti mostly for graphing network interface usage and Nagios for almost everything else (servers, services, etc.). –  0xFF Dec 26 '12 at 21:39

4 Answers 4

Nagios is a monitoring and alerting system, which has graphing capability (if you pay for it).

Cacti is a graphing system, which does not have alerting capabilities (at least not years ago when I used it last, and there's no mention of it on the Cacti site).

The two are related (and often paired to avoid paying for the commercial Nagios implementation), but they serve different core functions: Nagios (without graphing) looks at the Now (current condition and alarms), Cacti looks at the long-term history.

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If I am willing to pay for it, do you think I can skip cacti? –  Karthik Dec 20 '12 at 20:04
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FYI, there are other packages other than Cacti offering historical graphics for Nagios (free version). –  mdpc Dec 20 '12 at 20:04
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Cacti can send alerts with the thold plugin, but that's all I remember about it. Personally for opensource I liked Zenoss but we pay for WUG and love it. –  TheCleaner Dec 20 '12 at 20:05
    
@Karthik Sure. Given the choice I would prefer an integrated monitoring/graphing suite rather than two separate programs... –  voretaq7 Dec 20 '12 at 20:05
    
@TheCleaner Cool, I wasn't aware that plugin existed. Honestly all I remember about Cacti was hating it and wishing we had something better. (Similarly all I remember about Nagios was HATING it - an all-consuming hatred that made me not care if we could have something better as long as Nagios would stop bothering me) –  voretaq7 Dec 20 '12 at 20:07

Simple: Nagios was built with alerting first. Cacti was built with graphing first.

Both have addons that will enable the functionality of the other, but it boils down to what you want. If you already have a monitoring solution, and just want performance graphs Cacti might make sense. If you want a single unified solution with an emphasis on monitoring, Nagios might make sense.

Cacti can alert based on thresholds using the thold plugin, but Nagios can do so much more (passive checks, handle flapping more gracefully, team-based alerts that are "time of day" aware, etc.) Cacti also relies on SNMP or WMI to gather what it needs. Nagios can do SSH, WMI, SNMP, and it also has agents for Windows that can do some pretty powerful stuff compared to Cacti.

Not bashing Cacti (I've deployed it before), but I prefer alerting to be the focus of my unified alerting/graphing solution.

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Nagios Core is meant to be a simple but powerful monitoring engine. Cacti is more for visual graphing and they work well together. Nagios XI uses Nagios Core as the monitoring and alerting engine. Nagios XI also has visual graphing and trending capabilities. If you have even the smallest budget Nagios XI is the way to go. If you don't have a budget Nagios Core and Cacti are the way to go.

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What it boils down to is Cacti was built before Nagios was great at graphing. But with Nagios XI, there is no need for cacti.

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It would probably be helpful to elaborate on why Nagios is better. I've used both and Nagios is meant for monitoring, notification, and alerting while cacti is really just meant to show performance trends. I've not used Nagios XI but it's not even the same thing as nagios. I understand that it has Nagios at it's core but it's much more than just vanilla nagios. XI is what the OP was asking about not the vanilla Nagios. So your comment isn't even addressing the original question. –  slm Dec 24 '12 at 1:20

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