The best IT monitoring tools; remote and local

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When looking for the perfect solution, consider other factors as well!

IT monitoring is a very complex field. If we want to simplify it a bit, we can divide it into the following 3 fields: Classic IT infrastructure monitoring, network performance monitoring, and application performance monitoring.

The first one represents the classic challenges of every sysadmin, it includes the monitoring of standard applications or servers as well as hardware, storage, and other infrastructure elements. Network performance monitoring is aimed at routers, firewalls, or switches and, of course, all data streams that pass through these devices. And the comparatively newer application performance monitoring covers CRM systems or entire websites.

It is in the nature of network performance monitoring that it usually runs on-site. This is because it allows – apparently – easier access to the various monitored devices and the data streams flowing over them. In contrast, application performance monitoring has a tendency to run from the cloud, as the monitored applications themselves are all in the cloud. “Traditional” IT monitoring is in the middle, and there are just as many solid reasons to go with on-premise monitoring as there are to opt for a newer off-premise monitoring solution.

Local or remote, your IT monitoring should fit your needs rather than the other way around.

What exactly is local and remote IT monitoring?

The question of what exactly lies behind the term on- and off-premises IT monitoring is not difficult to answer, but the more details of actual day-to-day practice you want to take into account, the longer the answer becomes. In general, the term on-premises software refers to a licensing and usage model for server-based computer programs. The classic on-premises model is being overtaken in many areas today by the newer cloud computing – also referred to as off-premises.

Off-premises means that the licensee (customer) buys (or often rents) software instead of working with it under his own responsibility in his own data center (on-premises). There is of course, and – here already comes a significant nuance – the possibility for a customer to run purchased or rented software on rented servers of a third-party data center at any time; in this case, the software also doesn’t run on the provider’s hardware.

A significant advantage of an on-premise software solution is that it can be optimized more individually for specific areas of use than it is the case with SaaS (Software as a Service). In contrast, many software users appreciate the fact that off-premises solutions do not require a comprehensive hardware structure of their own and – if they are rented – usually offer attractive, flexible licensing models.

Does remote monitoring necessarily mean less flexibility?

The objection often raised against cloud solutions such as SaaS, that they necessarily result in less flexibility, is not automatically correct. Yes, it is true that – overall – there are fewer opportunities for individualization than with on-premises solutions. The possibilities for customization of SaaS solutions can be realized in many ways and are usually implemented within the services (for example, through various configurations or some third-party modules).

And there are some more arguments that should be taken into account. While with on-premises solutions all risks and burdens are transferred to the customer through the purchase of a solution, with off-premises solutions such as SaaS also the hardware, operation, as well as the maintenance costs are covered by the rental price and usually much less risk is transferred. However, with on-premises solutions, all relevant data is located on the company’s own data center. With off-premises, the data is held on the system of a provider that often does not have its business in the same country, perhaps even not on the same continent. This can often be a data protection dilemma, and it also makes it necessary to draw up individual outsourcing contracts for off-premises solutions.

Keep an eye on the basics, such as SNMP

There are undoubtedly many off-premises solutions available in 2022 that provide solid IT monitoring. Most of these solutions are truly native cloud solutions, while a few – such as PRTG Hosted Monitor – are “hosted on-premises software”, i.e. solutions that were created for the on-premises world and now enable off-premises IT monitoring from the cloud. However, the legacy of these solutions reveals a clear strength, because SNMP-based IT monitoring solutions always thrive on their product maturity. Many vendor MIB files are flawed, which becomes evident only through customer feedback over the years and can then influence the development and customization of solutions. The longer an SNMP-based monitoring is on the market, the more reliable it is. This makes a strong argument against cloud-native solutions and instead for those that have already proven themselves in the on-premises world for years.

In the following, we provide you with 2 good on-premises and 2 good off-premises monitoring solutions, all of which cover the essential areas of comprehensive IT monitoring. Without further ado, let’s get down to business:

Two great on-premises/local IT monitoring solutions

NetCrunch

The Polish company AdRem was founded in 1998 and now has an additional office in New York. AdRem became known with NetCrunch, a very solid IT monitoring solution that can do pretty much everything that ambitious system administrators would expect.  

NetCrunch is a comprehensive network monitoring software for monitoring the classic factors such as traffic, topology, systems, devices, as well as various services. Once you are familiar with the general functionality of the solution, NetCrunch’s policy- and template-based configuration makes managing thousands of nodes fairly easy. It automatically generates layer-2 maps and manages monitoring dependencies. NetCrunch supports Windows – but not Mac – and unfortunately it doesn’t provide mobile apps (you have to resort to a mobile html interface). However, there is full SNMP support with more than 8,700 MIBs and an integrated MIB compiler. The interface of NetCrunch is clean and nice to look at, but some could feel that especially the web interface has only a limited functionality.

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is the well-known, tried and tested on-premise monitoring solution from Paessler.

System administrators need to keep an eye on a growing number of devices, applications and various tools to make sure everything in their IT network is running smoothly. Even though there are – as shown above – many areas in IT, PRTG Network Monitor provides everything you would need to monitor all of them. This solution can be used in all conceivable industries and areas, whether industrial, service, or commercial. PRTG Network Monitor gives you a permanent overview of your network, all systems, and applications and sends alerts and notifications directly to your cell phone in case of a failure. There are no add-ons or additional plugins required, also hidden costs are not an issue. The installation and initial configuration takes minutes thanks to automatic detection with hundreds of ready-to-use, pre-configured sensors. Data is collected via standard protocols such as ICMP, SNMP, WMI, HTTPS, OPC, or OPC UA.

For sysadmins looking for an on-premise IT monitoring solution that can do pretty much anything, PRTG Network Monitor is the best choice. You get an intuitive monitoring tool that is easy to use (and there’s also no real in-depth scripting knowledge required).

Two great off-premises/remote IT monitoring solutions

LogicMonitor

A highly interesting cloud-based monitoring solution on the market is LogicMonitor. This software does not inherently focus on classical IT monitoring, but it has a considerable feature set and focuses on advanced analysis of the collected data.

This sophisticated analysis contains some complex tools, which the normal system administrator has to get used to. In addition, LogicMonitor is probably a bit more expensive than other solutions on the market. However, if you look past these two points, you get a kick-ass solution here that is truly cloud native. Unlike some others – including the solution about to follow – LogicMonitor is not a “hosted on-premises solution”, but was instead specifically designed for the cloud.

LogicMonitor currently comes in two flavors: Pro and Enterprise. Pro gives you full access to LogicMonitor’s cloud-based infrastructure monitoring platform. Get started with automated deployment and configuration, intelligent alerting, customizable dashboards, and over 2000 pre-built integrations. Building on everything Plus includes, Enterprise gives you access to a full-suite of AI-based monitoring capabilities including root cause analysis, dynamic thresholds, forecasting, and more.  

Paessler PRTG Hosted Monitor

We introduced Paessler PRTG Network Monitor above, which is the proven and established IT monitoring solution from Paessler. PRTG Hosted Monitor launched a few years ago under the name PRTG hosted by Paessler and is now enjoying growing popularity as a standalone product. It is of course a SaaS, but backed by Paessler’s 25 years of monitoring knowledge. A level of expertise that few SaaS providers bring to the table.

Monitoring as a service
Download the trail version here

Paessler advertises that a PRTG Hosted Monitor instance is up and running in a very short amount of time compared to any in-house implementation. There’s no need to order dedicated hardware, or look for a machine with spare capacity. PRTG Hosted Monitor is agentless, and you can start monitoring from your browser right away. A very nice detail: PRTG Hosted Monitor is hosted by Paessler on reliable AWS servers in the region of your choice. Just as his older brother, PRTG Hosted Monitor provides one of the best user experiences you can find on the market. If you’re looking for a user-friendly interface as well as a simple licensing structure, you should test PRTG Hosted Monitor with its free 10 days trial.

Oh, and here’s where one of the greatest strengths of off-premises solutions really comes into play: PRTG Hosted Monitor is billed monthly or annually, simply based on the number of sensors that you need.

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