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5 Best Open Source Network Monitoring Tools with Pros & Cons

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Networks have gone through a steady evolution in the past few decades from being flat to much more complex designs. Newer technologies have been thrown into the mix like mobile devices, VPN, IoT, and cloud etc. However, one thing has remained the same; the need for good open source network monitoring tools.

Why Use Open Source Network Monitoring Tools?

Monitoring lets you know the state of the network elements and the connections so you can understand and fix any issues that may cause problems. Open source network monitoring tools allow you to detect failing network components like frozen servers, failed switches and failed routers etc. We are going to list some of the best open source network monitoring tools out there so you can manage your IT infrastructure efficiently.

1. OpenNMS

OpenNMS Network Monitoring Tool Screenshot

OpenNMS is one of the open source network monitoring tools that offers a lot of flexibility. It provides service monitoring, event management and performance monitoring for enterprise-level businesses. You can build a network monitoring solution for any infrastructure and collect system data using WMI, XML, HTTP, JSON, JMX, NRPE, JDBC etc.

One of the main advantages of OpenNMS is its innovative user interface. You can view the reports in a dashboard or a chart. Even though it is designed for Linux, you can still use it on Windows, Solaris, and Mac. OpenNMS also supports both IPv4 and IPv6 over ICMP along with event notifications via email, SMS etc. You can monitor device temperatures and power supply as well. If you’re looking for open source network monitoring tools with amazing UI and compatibility, OpenNMS is the one for you.

2. Cacti

Cacti Open Source Networking Monitoring Tool Screenshot

Cacti is one of the open source network monitoring tools that connect to RRDTool and generate easy to understand graphs and charts of network data. You can install Cacti on both Linux and Windows. Cacti also allows unlimited graph items for each graph and is capable of using CDEF or sources inside Cacti. This tool is usually used to show network data over time like CPU load or bandwidth usage.

Cacti supports RRD files that have two or more data sources and it is able to fetch and use any RRD file that is stored locally. Other features include graphs, data source, and host templates, custom data-gathering scripts and user-based management and security. Cacti requires Apache, IIS, or MySQL that support PHP. If time-based network graphs are what you need, then Cacti is one of the best open source network monitoring tools out there.

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3. Nagios: Open Source Monitoring Tools

Screenshot of Nagios to Monitor Network

Nagios is one of the industry leaders in open source network monitoring tools. It provides monitoring solutions to both small and enterprise level networks. Nagios is also extremely diverse and can monitor almost all types of components like a web server, website, network protocols, operating systems etc. Moreover, it consumes very little server resources due to its high-performance Core 4 monitoring engine.

Nagios has a ton of plugins available that let you integrate with all kinds of third-party software. Furthermore, it can also monitor Middleware such as Tomcat, URL, Apache, JBoss, WebLogic, and WebSphere etc. It gives you a central view of your entire IT infrastructure and has multi-user access as well as selective access. Currently, Nagios has a huge active community of over a million users. So, if you’re looking for versatile and diverse open source network monitoring tools, take a look at Nagios.

4. Zabbix

Networking Monitoring Tool Zabbix Screenshot

In an array of open source network monitoring tools, Zabbix is one of those that are used by huge companies because of its enterprise-level software. Some users include DELL, ICANN and Orange etc. It is capable of monitoring everything including the performance of servers, network equipment, web applications, and database management.

It has a wide array of operating system support and therefore you can install it on Linux, Windows, Mac, Solaris, AIX, and FreeBSD etc. Zabbix also supports VM monitoring that allows VMWare. It allows automation using scripts in various language and is capable of integration with other system management tools such as bcfg2, Chef and cfengine etc. It can also monitor JAVA applications directly. So, in a nutshell, i­f you’re looking for open source network monitoring tools for a large organization, Zabbix is a great choice.

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5. Paessler PRTG

Screenshot of PRTG Open Source  Networking Monitoring Tool

Paessler PRTG is an all-round network monitoring solution that allows centralized monitoring i.e. letting you monitor all areas of the network. It has a built-in notification system that notifies you before a problem arises. It also has a mobile app for OTG (on-the-go) monitoring of devices in data centers. You can monitor for services other than networks like hardware, cloud, and performance. It also supports multiple languages. The free version has support for 100 sensors. So, if you want all-in-one open source network monitoring tools that also allow monitoring on the fly, then Paessler PRTG might suit you.


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