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I'd like to have the ability to log and record various resources: CPU, memory, disk IOPS, etc of a machine so I can test its capabilities.

The purpose of this software is to test my own applications and memory usage of them.

I mainly use Ubuntu, but I also admin servers with Centos4/5 as well.

I am also interested to know what large providers use for the job.

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If you need to monitor machines that area attached to a network, take a look at this post. It's very, very good.

But, if you intend to monitor a standalone machine (as you said), you could use SAR. It's a tool to collect and report system activity. This post and this post can help you to understand the big picture. This post is also very good.

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Most monitoring systems are designed for exactly that - measuring the behaviour of a live system over a long period of time. There are lots of tools available for doing this - Bob's answer here gives links to some of the stuff available.

However there are a couple of problems with this.

First these are not really setup for testing purposes - you're going to have to think about how you reconcile these metrics with your testing.

Secondly, while the standard system metrics can give a good pointer to how performance is constrained - they don't actually measure transactional performance. The important thing is to deliver the data the user requests promptly - not to keep the CPU usage below some arbitrary value - so you need to think about how you measure actual end-to-end performance.

The other thing to bear in mind, is that application tuning is a very empirical art - you're going to have to colelct and visualize a lot of data - most of the monitoring tools aren't really very good for this.

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You can use cacti to log CPU usage, Memory usages, and disk read/write cycles and test your app for example with ab(or in other way) ..then analize cacti graphs

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Nimsoft, amongst other things.

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