For a more comprehensive list of monitoring tools and their features, check out this Wikipedia page.
As the question states, what are the most commonly used tools used for this task and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
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ServersAlive is a relatively cheap, simple tool for all sorts of polling, including TCP services, Windows services, your own custom scripts, whatever. The response from the developer on his mailing list is rapid and personal.
I used it at a previous job for service monitoring and it was reliable, customisable and cheap.
MSP Center (the former OpManager) is really frustrating to use and I can't recommend it. The interface is entirely web-based which means zero feedback and an arbitrarily limited set of choices any time you want to do something. Their website seems full of tips and documentation, but it's a bit like Outlook - it promises a whole bunch of power but is hamstrung by some developer's limited imagination.
If you're looking for a zero-config solution for your helpdesk, well maybe, but it's not any sort of power tool. If you have time to tune your monitoring to meet your needs then there are other solutions that would reward your efforts more.
Currently using Groundworks Open Source Community Edition 5.3 - although support has fallen by the wayside on that version now. May upgrade to GWOS 6 or perhaps jump ship to Zabbix or similar Open Source system. I tend to favour those based on Nagios, but wouldn't go for vanilla Nagios due to the nightmare of managing all those interdependent config files.
Groundworks' WMI Monitoring plugins for NRPE work pretty well. Nagios triggers a WMI service check on a windows box using NRPE, which then does the WMI querying of your other windows boxes. This gets around the requirement to have NRPE agents on your windows boxes, and also the nightmare of trying to get Nagios running on *Nix to authenticate on Windows.
Another nice option is to set up SNMP on your windows boxes as part of your base build. There are some options out there to expose WMI checks via SNMP (SNMPTools) (although you need to install this on each Windows box, making it not agentless).
There are a number of Windows tools which can monitor Windows logs and send an SNMP trap when certain events occur.
We're using AlertGrid, it's ideal for web apps. Unlike millions of typical dotcom monitors it does not monitor performance (response time etc.) from outside, but it lets you trace the execution of your code and all your custom metrics/statistics by sending events from inside of your app. Once you start sending events from your app to AlertGrid, everything is configurable using nice visual editor (100% web) and non-technical people can easily create their own alerting rules. Email, SMS, phone and webhook alerts are available.
It has a plugin for simple server monitoring (windows), which installs as a service, runs in background and emits events about cpu usage, % free RAM, and processes runing. Takes half a minute to set up, and it works! The only caveat is that the machine must have an internet connection.
We started using Server monitoring Bijk.com - http://www.bijk.com before several weegs ago.
And we are happy for simple installation and very easy GUI and maintanence - mail & SMS alerts for free is good for us.
It works as service 24/7 and monitors all devices in the network by periodc polling each device within lan. Also Ican set up the program's response to particular events for example device or service on/off. Program can display a message, play a sound, run external programs, write a record to log, send SMS, restart/shut down a service or a computer and so on.
OPManager (Ports, HTTP Get Requests, ICMP, SNMP (Disk/Memory/CPU)) (personal favourite!) http://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/
OpManager is an award winning network monitoring software that helps administrators discover, map, monitor and manage complete IT infrastructure.
Cacti (SNMP Graphing, Traffic, Disk Usage, CPU Utilisation etc) (http://www.cacti.net)
About Cacti. Cacti is a complete network graphing solution designed to harness the power of RRDTool's data storage and graphing functionality.
PRTG (Paessler, no longer available unfortunately)
SmokePing: (packet loss & latency) http://oss.oetiker.ch/smokeping/
EventLog Analyzer is a web based, real time, agent less, event log and application log monitoring and management software. The eventlog analyser software collects, analyzes, reports, and archives, Event Log from distributed Windows hosts, SysLog from distributed Unix hosts, Routers, Switches, and other SysLog devices, Application logs from IIS Web server, IIS FTP server, MS SQL server, Oracle database server, DHCP Windows and DHCP Linux servers. The eventlog analyzer application generates graphs and reports that help in analyzing system problems with minimal impact on network performance.
Try Ground work.It uses Nagios. So it has all features of nagios and you can edit monitorings graphically through a webinterface which is not possible by nagios alone. https://kb.groundworkopensource.com/display/SUPPORT/Home
Please check Verax NMS. Advantages: