Networking

Review: Zenoss network monitoring tool

Zenoss Open Source Edition is for any network admin who needs a one-stop-shop-tool for monitoring all devices on a network.

If you are a network (or systems) administrator, you know how crucial it is to have the right tools for the job. One of the toughest tools to really nail down is a network monitoring tool. Although there are plenty of such tools out there, they range from the over-priced to the under-featured. Where do you look for any sort of middle ground where features don't lose out to price?

Zenoss is an outstanding, enterprise-ready network monitoring tool that includes all of the features you are accustomed to finding in a much costlier solution. Many a network administrator would do well to deploy such a tool.

Requirements

Who's it for?

Zenoss Open Source Edition is for any network administrator who needs a one-stop-shop-tool for monitoring all devices on a network without having to empty their IT budget, nor waist a week's worth of work to get it up and running. Zenoss is for any size network, from a small business to a large enterprise.

What problem does it solve?

Zenoss solves the problem of being able to keep a close, constant watch on your network hardware to ensure it is running efficiently and well. And unlike Nagios, Zenoss doesn't require the administrator to edit configuration files in order to set up monitors for devices. Zenoss brings a much simpler Web-based interface from start to finish.

Standout features

  • Outstanding, well thought out interface
  • Auto discovery of devices
  • Enterprise-ready
  • Plugins to extend functionality
  • Skins to enhance look and feel
  • Customize devices
  • Detailed information for devices
  • Power supply and temperature sensors monitored
  • XML import/export
  • Device modeling by network, software, services, application
  • Extensive documentation

What's wrong?

There is one glaring issue with Zenoss and that is the installation. I will warn you, anyone that wants to tackle this task, give yourself plenty of time and make sure you read the documentation carefully. Fortunately there is good documentation. And if you are leery of the command line you will want to hand over the installation of Zenoss to someone who is not, because installing Zenoss has a fairly lengthy command line component to the installation. However, once that is complete, the rest of the installation is all Web-based.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you, or your business, is looking for a free, open source, powerful network monitoring tool you cannot go wrong with Zenoss. Although the installation can be a real challenge (especially for the command-line impared) the payoff is certainly worth the challenge.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Zenoss? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

Read our field-tested reviews of hardware and software in TechRepublic's Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. We explain who would use the product and describe what problem the product is designed to solve. Automatically sign up today!

Read our field-tested reviews of hardware and software in TechRepublic's Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. We explain who would use the product and describe what problem the product is designed to solve. Automatically sign up today!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

6 comments
merlinpr
merlinpr

Jack, what installation method did you use and what distro? The reason I ask is because there are a few installation options, some easier than others. For the easiest install methods look for the stack installers which include all dependencies and is very simple even for someone who is not very comfortable working with CLI. As someone who has been using Zenoss for many years I have experienced first hand the huge improvements done to both the documentation and the installation process. I personally install Zenoss from source and all dependencies manually because I like to have the control over my installation. This is my choice as someone who's used it for a while, but the stack installers do a great job and a lot of people use them.

JimmyStewpot
JimmyStewpot

There are some gaping holes in the system.. for example it doesn't support IPv6 out of the box.. Creating templates where you mix services etc is not so easy, it should be simple to have both of these features out of the box.. yes IPv4 is still the primary protocol.. but lets get real IPv6 is here and its here to say.

fuzzyping
fuzzyping

How is this considered a "review"? How does Zenoss save my business time or money? How does it make my team more effective? How does it help me troubleshoot root cause analysis? How does it help me trend and plan growth? This has to be one of the lamest "reviews" I've ever seen. It reads like a copy/paste of the feature list off the vendor's website.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

TechRepublic has covered many network monitoring tools in the past year or so, which do you use? Which do you like the best? How does Zenoss compare to other tools in your opinion?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The idea behind the Product Spotlight Blog is to give members an overview of a product, to present a starting point for additional research, and to provide a forum where IT pros can discuss the product. The discussion can be very informative because the product is scrutinized by actual users.

Editor's Picks