We are in the data age. Businesses and organizations are more reliant on networks and data than they ever have been before. Almost every transaction is being conducted online. From money transfers, product advertisements, purchases, and also communication. Which is why your company’s network cannot afford to be down.
For every minute that the network is down, then that is money being lost. It’s one more frustrated customer and worse still it’s the perfect way to give your competition an edge over you. And while incidences like this are not totally unavoidable, you can take necessary measures to ensure that they are less frequent or when they do happen they exert minimum damage. I am talking about using the best monitoring tools to ensure that your servers are in optimum condition at all times. Proactive monitoring tools are the best since they can forecast potential issues and bring them to your attention before they can escalate.
Using Built-in Management Systems to Monitor your Servers
Particular servers also come with their own management systems but these may not be the best for two reasons. One is that they are server specific. Which means that in case you want to extend your server infrastructure then you will have to stick with the same vendor. Unfortunately, one vendor may not be able to fulfill all your networking needs.
The second reason is that the third-party software offer a much wider functionality than these default managers. They are also more user-friendly.
We have analysed the list of all potential monitoring tools and in this post, we will be talking at the top five that stood out from the rest. From here you can then make your best pick. But before we highlight them, these are some other ways you can ensure increase your server and application uptime.
Additional Ways to Reduce Server Downtime
- Always back up data. Data backup is not just a way of avoiding data loss. Having a backup on your server-client system can ensure that the site is still functional on the user’s end even when it is failing on the back end. A good way you can achieve this is through virtualization.
- Keep your server’s software and hardware updated. You should make sure that the server OS and applications running on it are on their latest versions. Also, consider upgrading server hardware when there is an increased workload seems to be overpowering the CPU power.
- Double-check configurations. Ensure that the server is correctly configured. One mistake in the configuration settings could cause server failure. The SolarWinds Configuration Manager is a great tool to keep track of your configurations.
So now to the topic at hand. The best software to help you manage your servers and corresponding applications.
1. SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor (SAM)
SolarWinds is one of the most trusted providers of Network Monitoring applications and for good reason. They put together one of the best Network Performance Monitors and have additional software for just about any networking need. The SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is a comprehensive tool that helps you easily manage your servers and applications regardless of whether they are located on-premise, in data centers, remote locations or on the cloud.
The setup process is straightforward and once installed, the tool will automatically discover the components in your environment. In about an hour you should be able to start monitoring. The tool uses both agent and agentless-based technology to collect performance data from the servers, and the applications running on these servers.
It offers support for over 1200 applications including the Active Directory, Java and XenApp. The monitoring templates are already configured right off the box but you can modify them and also create new custom templates.
This tool also has an Appstack dashboard which displays your servers and running applications together with how they connect with other components in your network. This will be important in tracing the root cause of any application issues in the minimum time.
SolarWinds SAM has a system monitor module that keeps track of the physical aspects of your server such as the CPU capacity, memory usage, power supply, temperature, and fan performance. As expected it comes with in-built and customizable alerts that are activated when certain thresholds are exceeded. The reporting capability of this tool is also commendable.
Although pretty impressive as a standalone software, SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor can also be integrated with their Storage Performance Monitor and the Virtualization Manager to improve its functionality. It will provide more insights into issues to do with your virtualization and storage environments.
2. PRTG Network Monitor
PRTG is a full-featured Network Performance Monitor that comes with multiple modules to monitor the various aspect of your network. This means that on top of the Server and Application monitoring you can use it to manage your whole network.
The tool comes with pre-configured trigger conditions to automatically alert you when there are abnormalities in your server or associated applications. You can customize the conditions to only receive alerts for issues that you feel really deserve your attention.
In terms of the physical server, you can use the PRTG Network Performance Monitor to check physical components such as the CPU load, Ram utilization, Bandwidth usage and also hard disk space and performance. It can also be used to monitor your virtual environment including VMware, HyperV and Amazon Cloud Watch (ACW).
This tool features a customizable intuitive UI that gives you an overview of every server and corresponding components. It also has an excellent reporting tool that includes graphs and other visual analytics to provide a better understanding of the health status of the components being monitored.
To bring more flexibility in management, Paessler has made the UI web-based so that you can access it even using your mobile phone. Supported devices include iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android and Windows phones.
PRTG has a free version that limits usage to just 100 sensors. Sensors refer to every factor that is monitored by the tool. This may be a good option for a small organization but the bigger organizations with multiple servers are better off with the premium software. But before you can make the decision to purchase, PRTG allows you to test the full features of the software for 30 days.
Nagios is also a full-featured Network Monitoring tool that will be great for monitoring servers and applications for a number of reasons. It uses both agent and agentless monitoring and includes over 3500 add-ons from the Nagios Community to help collect more performance data from the devices being monitored.
Nagios is available as both an open source software, Nagios Core and also an enterprise software, Nagios XI. The product of choice will largely depend on a number of factors. Here are some few pointers.
Open source software usually require a very long time to configure into your system because none of the usual configurations has been done for you. This also means that you will need to have scripting skills to set up the software. On the upside, it is completely free.
The Enterprise version, on the other hand, holds your hand in almost every step of the monitoring process. All you need is to follow given guides and click on the appropriate options on the user interface. In return, you will have to purchase it.
But in terms of functionality, everything you can achieve with the Enterprise version can be achieved with the open-source edition. It will just take more time and effort. Both tools include capacity planning capabilities to help you determine when there is a need to upgrade the hardware. You will also be alerted on any issues with your server based on set conditions. On top of the email and SMS notifications, Nagios can be configured to send instant messages via the various internet messengers.
The user dashboard provides you with complete visibility to your network where you can access every important monitoring information necessary to make management decisions. The GUI design and layout can be customized to suit the user.
This tool can be used to monitor servers running on almost all Operating Systems including Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris, AIX, and MacOs.
4. Logic Monitor
Logic Monitor is another great tool for monitoring servers both on-premise and on the cloud. It can also be used in the monitoring of virtual machines, storage resources, applications, and websites.
The server analysis reports are a great way of predicting problems before they can escalate. They will also be essential in planning for potential hardware upgrade if the need arises.
This software, unlike all the others in our list, is based on the cloud. This means that it can be accessed from any device as long as it has internet connection making it a more effective monitoring tool. It also greatly reduces the load on the CPU since it does not involve installation of a collector program in your network.
Also, it does not take up any of your storage resources since the performance data is stored in its cloud. This data is encrypted before being transmitted to the Logic Monitor cloud servers to ensure that they are not accessed by hackers.
Logic Monitor has an application stack interface where it gives you all the monitoring data for the servers, applications, and other networks. This makes fast and easy to trace the root cause of the various issues detected with the components being monitored.
Logic Monitor can be used in monitoring the physical aspects of the servers and also the virtualizations created by Vmware, HyperV and Citrix XenServer. It is compatible with components running on Windows, Linux, AIX, and Solaris servers.
5. WhatsUp Gold Network Monitor
WhatsUp Gold is an awesome IT infrastructure management tool that will be excellent for monitoring servers and network devices. It performs automatic detection of the various components which means you will have the easiest time setting it up.
The various aspects monitored by this tool include CPU usage, Memory usage, storage usage, and disk volume. It can be used to monitor the on-premise servers, remote servers and cloud services like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Although it’s great for virtualization monitoring this is a functionality best implemented with the addition of the WhatsUp Gold Virtualization Monitor.
Also, for the most effective application Monitoring, you may have to install the Application Performance Monitor add-on. It will give you more insights on database management systems such as the SQL server, and web server software.
This tool can only Run on the Windows server system but it can be used to monitor Linux and Unix servers.
As expected from any respectable server monitoring tool, the WhatsUp Gold server monitor has an alert feature to notify you of various issues in your server and applications. You can customize the preset threshold to avoid false alerts.