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Our network has several sites, each with a Mac server (most of which are running Leopard Server), Airport Extremes, Cisco switches, printers, lots of Mac clients, and then a back-end server room with things such as a firewall, a VOIP system, mail server, web server, etc.

I really would like to be monitoring our system. As I haven't a lot of time to dedicate to the task, I'd like to be able to do it incrementally (ie. monitor servers at a couple of locations, and then airports at a couple of locations, and then servers at a few more locations, and so on, as I have time to set it up.) It is worth noting that some of the devices (notably the Airport Extremes) get their addresses via DHCP.

I've tried a few of the monitoring systems. Some don't compile cleanly on the Mac. Others, once you get them installed, have things built-in to monitor Linux and Windows servers, but nothing for Mac servers (and, one assumes, nothing for Airports).

[Yes, I know that Server Admin provides some monitoring features, but I dare say it is limited.]

Can anyone recommend some software for monitoring a Mac-centric environment? Are there any guides for, after you've deployed a typical system, what you need to do to make it monitor a Mac environment? Am I out to lunch thinking that I can build things up as I have time, or do I need to spend an entire week learning about monitoring and creating custom profiles or even hacking on software to get something to work? If there is a for-pay solution, what did you think of it, and how can I convince management to spring for it?

Thanks!


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3 Answers

Disclaimer: I'm the Zenoss Community Manager

Zenoss will monitor your mix of devices, services and servers no problem. It can monitor everything you've described and there is an installer available for OS X and we have a lot of OS X users (including most of our developers and QA). Plus it's free and open source and there's a very large and active community of users. I personally monitor several Leopard and Snow Leopard boxes and Airport Extremes and Expresses, so I know those work just great. There's lots of documentation and training available on http://zenoss.org.

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I actually just installed Zenoss (and was impressed with the installer). It didn't find a thing when I scanned the network (and I thought I had the right SNMP settings for the Airports, and had the right SSH settings for our client Macs). I wanted to add a server manually, but it didn't seem that /Servers/Linux was quite right, I couldn't find the /Devices/.../Darwin. In short, I wasn't able to start with it really quickly. I have poked around the site. Is there a handy guide for using it for Mac admins? [I need more time to look into it, I know; I just haven't got much to spare.] –  Clinton Blackmore Oct 31 '09 at 0:40
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We've been using a combination of Nagios (google this, since I can't post more than one link due to reputation issues, I guess) and Lithium. Lithium's got a new version coming out next week and it looks really promising. After it arrives, we'll consider again getting rid of our Nagios implmenetation (which has been running on a G5 XServe for many years now).

Lithium's a lot easier to get up and running and the new version has a lot of flexibility for configuring new devices. There's also a companion iPhone app for Lithium starting with the latest version.

Nagios is free and open source and can be difficult to configure, but has a lot of users out there.

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Intermapper works well on Macs. It's a bit network centric (switchports and uplinks) rather than service centric, so getting it to monitor e-mail servers and web servers can be more cumbersome. That being said, it's pretty simple to configure and get working.

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