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Nagios XI: Is It Right for You?

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David Josephsen takes a close look at Nagios XI in this chapter from his book. Learn if it might be a good fit for you.

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This chapter is from the book

In 2009, Nagios Enterprises, the corporation formed by Nagios creator Ethan Galstad, launched Nagios XI, a commercial version of Nagios. XI truly is an amazing accomplishment. You need to know next to nothing to use it, and yet the first eight chapters of this book are prerequisite to your understanding it. But now that you have a good handle on how Nagios and the various add-ons surrounding it work, we can finally examine XI and see if it might be a good fit for you.

What Is It?

After the release of 3.0, Nagios was, it seemed, in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. Sysadmins who knew and loved it were happy to see it continue in the way it always had, but its popularity had risen to the point that a different and more populous group of potential end users had taken notice, and with them, Nagios wasn’t comparing favorably with newer, prettier, and less flexible commercial competitors.

This new breed of user was quite vocal and had a few very specific gripes. First they found Nagios’s configuration syntax unwieldy, to say nothing of the intolerable notion of (gasp) editing text files by hand. Second, they found the Nagios web interface, with its C-based CGI and lack of integrated time-series data, unforgivably old-fashioned. Finally they had no idea what to make of the fact that there was no database back-end. Jiminy Christmas—wrist watches and garbage disposals run MySQL these days! How was one to take seriously a monitoring system that didn’t?

For this considerable subset of users, Nagios’s price tag didn’t make up for its abhorrent lack of bling, and answers to the effect that all these things could be rectified with add-ons fell on deaf Bluetooth earpieces. Add-on options were birds in the bush, and they would rather pay for a bird in the hand than go beating around the bush themselves for free.

XI might best be called the perfect compromise between maintaining the power and flexibility of Nagios and providing a turnkey monitoring system that more than satiates the desires of the PHP proletariat. But that description sells it short; XI is much more than just a shiny interface; it represents a huge amount of custom development and integration work. Further, there is real functionality in XI that simply can’t be found in Nagios Core. But neither can it be called a new monitoring system in its own right, because in very important ways, it remains Nagios and retains all the flexibility and power that I’ve described in the previous chapters. Everything I’ve written up to now about the underlying architecture, plug-ins, scalability, and even advanced visualization, is applicable to Nagios XI.

It’ll be easier to just show you.

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