As your business grows, so will the number of components in your infrastructure, making manual monitoring impossible without the proper tools. Be it performance metrics, availability status, or application component logs, you need a tool that provides end-to-end visibility into the health of your infrastructure.
To help you get started, we’ll compare some of the best infrastructure monitoring tools and software, both open source and paid, available today.
1. Sematext Monitoring
Sematext Monitoring is a full-stack IT infrastructure monitoring software that provides real-time visibility into on-premises and cloud deployments. It also allows you to see the health status of your infrastructure by monitoring applications, servers, containers, processes, inventory, events, databases, and more. You can use it for container infrastructure monitoring to gain visibility into containerized applications running in Docker or orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, and Nomad.
Sematext Monitoring can undertake automated discovery. The Sematext Agent observes your environments for services that can be onboarded to the tool itself, making the onboarding process easier. This tool offers comprehensive anomaly detection and integration with external notification services for infrastructure alerting, such as PagerDuty, Opsgenie, Splunk On-Call (formerly VictorOps), and webhooks. Additionally, it gives you a consolidated reports view that combines alerts and logs in a single pane so you can easily see the status of your environment.
- 100+ integrations for popular application stacks, such as Apache Cassandra, MySQL, Apache Spark, MongoDB, and more
- Quick onboarding through the lightweight and open-source Sematext Agent
- Monitors logs and events and correlates them to provide insights into infrastructure health
- Collects server inventory and monitors for deviations, discrepancies, and obsolete packages
- Process monitoring for visibility into performance bottlenecks
- Limited transaction tracing support
- No full-featured profiler
Sematext offers a 14-day free trial. There are three pricing tiers: Basic (free infrastructure monitoring of up to three hosts), Standard ($0.007 per container host/hour), and Pro ($0.011 per container host/hour).
2. The Elastic Stack
The Elastic Stack (ELK Stack) monitoring solution combines the capabilities of three open-source projects: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Elasticsearch is responsible for search and analytics, while Logstash helps inject and transform data from different sources before sending it to Elasticsearch. Kibana enables visualization through charts and graphs based on data analyzed by Elasticsearch. These capabilities can be used for metrics collected from multiple sources in your infrastructure and for delivering insights into your environment’s health.
The integration for infrastructure monitoring is enabled through the Metricbeat module, which correlates metrics from various sources, such as servers, Docker containers, Kubernetes, and many more. The module creates index patterns in Kibana that help with visualization of infrastructure status. You can also set up alerts for index/metrics-based thresholds and send notifications through email, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or other third-party integrations.
- Ability to host ELK on-premises or use a hosted solution
- Ability to view CPU/memory utilization and process-level statistics in Kibana dashboard
- Real-time customization, analysis, and visualization of data to deliver in-depth insights
- Analyzes telemetry data from distributed infrastructures in real time
- Libraries for multiple scripting and programming languages
- Complex and multi-step deployment
- Complex infrastructure configuration needed to ensure resiliency, high availability, and data usability
ELK is open source and free to download and use. However, you do have to pay for maintaining the infrastructure (i.e., compute), storage, and network bandwidth required to operate the ELK components, which can be expensive.
Created by former Google employees, Prometheus is a popular open-source infrastructure monitoring tool, originally intended to monitor heavily containerized environments. It works on time-series-based data. The services it monitors should expose an HTTP metrics endpoint that is periodically polled by Prometheus. Various metrics and the current value of those metrics should be accessible over this endpoint. In certain cases, you can’t change the containerized service to send the metrics required for Prometheus. When that happens, the Prometheus exporter can be bundled with the container service as a sidecar pod container to collect the metrics.
Prometheus uses a single node-based configuration and does not require distributed storage in the architecture. It also uses Prometheus Query Language (PromQL) for querying and aggregating monitoring data in real time. The Alertmanager generates and sends out alerts based on configured alerting rules.
- Uses numeric time-series data, which is ideal for dynamic, service-oriented, and microservices-based architectures
- Standalone service with no dependency on external network or storage
- Doesn’t need extensive infrastructure to operate
- Well integrated for Kubernetes infrastructure monitoring
- Grafana integration for visualization
- No native long-term storage or automated scaling, which may be required in large enterprise environments
- Needs integration with external dashboards, like Grafana, for visualization (involves additional configuration overhead)
Prometheus is completely open source and can be downloaded for free as Docker images or precompiled binaries. All components are licensed under Apache License Version 2.0 and are available on GitHub.
Zabbix is one of the most popular open-source infrastructure monitoring tools on the market. It’s a versatile solution that offers multiple monitoring options: network, server, cloud, application, and databases, to name a few. Zabbix provides extensive visualization capabilities that give you insight into infrastructure health. You can leverage the tool’s notification and remediation capabilities to identify and address issues in real time.
Zabbix supports multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.) and gathers important metrics like CPU, memory, and network usage. You can use its out-of-the-box templates for the automated discovery of components to be monitored, with the flexibility to develop custom templates if required. You can set up Zabbix to generate alerts based on defined triggers and deliver them through e-mail, SMS, script alerts, webhooks, and more.
- Lightweight agent with a small footprint, centrally managed from the Zabbix server
- Broad support for all relevant infrastructure components
- Open source with strong community and commercial support
- Easy integration with external applications via Zabbix API
- Single-pane visibility into infrastructure through configurable dashboards, graphs, and reports
- Complex initial deployment and configuration
- No hosted SaaS solution
Zabbix is open-source, so you can download and use it for free. If needed, you can purchase technical-support plans, consulting services, upgrade/template-building support, and more.
5. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM)
SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor (SAM) provides in-depth monitoring of your IT infrastructure, both on-premises and in the cloud. It offers out-of-the-box support for more than 1,200 applications and systems, as well as several more community-contributed templates for integration. The tool allows you to monitor infrastructure components through WMI, SNMP, Powershell, REST API, and more.
SAM has predefined OS monitoring configurations for Windows and Linux, which enables faster onboarding and performance monitoring. And you don’t need multiple IT monitoring solutions. SAM monitors performance, hard-drive status, fan status, power supply, and temperature for server hardware from different vendors (Dell, HP, IBM, etc.)—all from within a single console. The same goes for alerting and reporting. Also, the Real-Time Process Explorer (RTPE) helps administrators use the web console to view data for both monitored and unmonitored processes for WMI and SNMP—without having to log into the servers.
- Continuous server monitoring and cross-stack monitoring data correlation
- Capacity charts and forecasts that aid with long-term capacity planning
- Monitors overall server and application performance, uptime, and hardware issues
- Monitors performance metrics, such as CPU, memory, and uptime for Docker containers
- Visualization of data in easy-to-use dashboards
- Overlapping capabilities with other SolarWinds tools
- Complex configuration due to multiple modules
SAM offers a fully functional free trial for 30 days. There are also subscription and perpetual licensing options: Prices start at $1,622 and $2,995 for up to 10 nodes, respectively.
6. N-able RMM
N-able RMM delivers the capabilities that managed service providers need to gain visibility into the diverse IT environments of the clients they manage: remote monitoring, management, patching, automation, and more. It can be easily scaled to monitor thousands of infrastructure components and helps with proactive identification and remediation of issues with self-healing capabilities.
N-able RMM uses the N-central probe technology to enroll and add devices to be monitored. It provides a quick view of every customer’s environment with technology mapping, which is beneficial to managed service providers supporting multiple customers. This tool has more than 100 prewritten automated tasks, as well as templates to create new tasks that help fasttrack monitoring and remediation activities. Best-practices monitoring and alerting are configured automatically, but you can enable granular controls if needed.
- Easy onboarding for new customers
- Insights and visibility based on data collected from resources
- Automated monitoring templates and scripting to fasttrack monitoring
- Works as both a hosted or on-premises solution
- Extensible monitoring architecture through API integration
- Tailored for MSPs with limited features
- Not suited for large enterprises with diverse workloads
There is a free trial for MSPs, but you need to contact the sales team to get a price quote for production usage.
7. Datadog Infrastructure Monitoring
Datadog Infrastructure Monitoring provides visibility into the performance status of your infrastructure components, both in the cloud and on-premises. Datadog has thousands of out-of-the-box infrastructure metrics that you can use to view the health of your application stack, containers, virtualization platform, and more. The tool uses an open-source agent to support more than 450 integrations, including popular stacks like Kubernetes, Docker, and Apache Kafka.
With Datadog Infrastructure monitoring, you get consolidated dashboards that give you visibility into infrastructure health, with the option to drill down to the status of individual hosts. It provides automated detection of anomalies and an intelligent alerting mechanism.
- Covers all relevant infrastructure monitoring parameters (metrics, logs, security, etc.)
- Customizable integrations with Datadog API
- Unified monitoring experience through its open-source agent for cloud and on-premises
- Visualization of connected infrastructure components through host map feature
- Customizable dashboards for displaying key insights about your infrastructure health
- Complex setup with a significant learning curve for new users
- Doesn’t have many pre-built dashboards
Datadog offers a free 14-day trial. There are three pricing tiers: Free (5 hosts with 1-day metric retention), Pro ($15 per host/month), and Enterprise ($23 per host/month).
8. ManageEngine OpManager
ManageEngine OpManager is a trusted infrastructure monitoring software with support for real-time monitoring of networks, physical and virtual servers, storage devices, and more. With customizable dashboards that have over 200 performance widgets, the platform provides a comprehensive view of overall network performance, in addition to performance monitoring of hosts and VMs in your infrastructure.
You can utilize OpsManager for proactive server monitoring using multiple thresholds (i.e., the performance can be checked at various levels). The tool can also discover all services running on Windows and Linux servers and automatically map availability and response-time monitors to them.
- Deep-dive view of network metrics, latency, packet loss, errors, speed, and more
- Process and system health monitoring through SNMP/WMI/CLI
- Agentless monitoring for VMware and WMI-based monitoring for Hyper-V
- 70+ built-in metrics for VMware and 40+ metrics for Hyper-V
- Fault monitoring and alerting
- Tailored to network monitoring, with minimal support for other infrastructure components
- No hosted version
There is a 30-day free trial and a free version that supports three devices. Paid versions are differentiated by the bundled features: Standard ($245 for 10 devices), Professional ($345 for 10 devices), and Enterprise ($11,545 for 250 devices).
9. PRTG Network Monitor
PRTG Network Monitor is a monitoring tool that gives you extensive infrastructure monitoring capabilities for networks, servers, virtual machines, and applications. It offers both agent-based and agentless monitoring. Agentless monitoring uses technologies like WMI, SNMP, SSH, and NetFlow to collect metrics information.
PRTG offers a built-in dashboard for high-level visibility so you can see alerts, outages, and warnings in the same pane. It also comes with intuitive business process sensors that allow you to monitor IT infrastructure elements involved in a specific business process. Its infrastructure-capacity monitoring feature monitors infrastructure capacity and flags bottlenecks, which can help you with long-term planning.
- Fast and simple setup, with proprietary database
- Option to install locally or use the hosted version
- Built-in map designer to visualize the network and connected components
- Out-of-the-box and customizable reports to surface performance issues
- Customizable alerts delivered via e-mail, SMS, pop-up messages, scripts, etc.
- No installation support for Linux
- Sensor-based licensing that is expensive for large environments
PRTG offers a 30-day free trial. Prices start at $1,750 for 500 sensors. There is also a perpetual on-time payment license with a renewable maintenance plan for product updates and technical support.
Nagios is one of the oldest infrastructure monitoring tools available both as an open-source tool (Nagios Core) and a paid enterprise solution (Nagios XI). Nagios Core is Linux based and is very popular due to its architecture, as the core can be extended through both official and community-developed custom plugins.
You can use Nagios for centralized monitoring of applications, system metrics, operating systems, and other infrastructure components. Its extensive reporting capabilities, such as availability reports and historical reports that can be extended using third-party addons, is another highlight. Nagios offers a multi-tenant architecture with a user-specific view configuration, helps you detect outages quickly, and alerts you via e-mail or SMS when something goes wrong.
- Extensible architecture through plugins
- Highly available deployment for continuous infrastructure monitoring
- Single-pane visibility of IT infrastructure status through web interface
- Automated remediation capabilities through event handlers
- Open-source software with full access to source code
- Some features not available in the free open-source version
- Need multiple add-ons for full suite of capabilities
Nagios Core is free. There are two versions of Nagios XI: Standard (starting at $1,995 per 100 nodes) and Enterprise (starting at $3,495).
11. WhatsUp Gold
WhatsUp Gold is a network monitoring solution that can be extended through modules to monitor infrastructure components and applications for full-stack monitoring. It provides extensive monitoring capabilities for your virtual infrastructure hosted on VMware or Hyper-V. WhatsUp Gold gives you information on CPU, memory, disk, and network utilization of hosts and guests from the same interface.
This tool monitors the bandwidth consumption of your application components, as well as network performance. Syslog and Windows Logs, which can give you valuable insights into the state of your infrastructure, can also be integrated and monitored. Additionally, you can use WhatsUp Gold for availability and performance monitoring to gain visibility into infrastructure health.
- Robust set of extensible plugins
- Automated inventory reporting for servers
- Monitors performance of servers and can track live migrations
- Threshold-based alerts via e-mail, SMS, or Slack
- Custom dashboards to monitor infrastructure health
- Installation supported only on Windows environment
- Not available as a hosted service
WhatsUp Gold offers a 14-day free trial and a pricing model based on the devices and applications in the system.
12. New Relic
New Relic is a full-stack monitoring tool that gives you visibility into the performance of your infrastructure components with rich dashboard capabilities. Rather than needing to switch context between different applications, New Relic allows you to monitor information from logs, infrastructure, applications, serverless functions, and more—all from a single tool. You can leverage New Relic to get real-time health information on key host metrics like CPU, memory, disks, and network status.
New Relic’s insights feature ensures that you can easily track and query infrastructure monitoring data. Dashboards are created automatically with new infrastructure integrations, fast-tracking the insights from these integrations.
- Ability to debug service-side performance issues from the tool interface
- Real user and synthetics monitoring
- Consistency for infrastructure monitoring across hybrid platforms
- End-to-end visibility through distributed tracing
- Can use out-of-the-box alerts policies or create custom alerts with anomaly detection
- Complex and inconsistent UI
- Agent management not done by the platform, leading to additional overhead
New Relic offers a free tier and additional paid tiers: Standard, Pro, and Enterprise. The paid tiers are based on data ingested per month, number of users, and number of incidents per month.
Dynatrace provides a comprehensive monitoring platform that can cover your infrastructure across cloud, on premises, and hybrid environments. This includes VMs, storage, network, servers, Kubernetes clusters, and host machines, to name a few. The monitoring data is collected using a single agent deployed per host, which can monitor servers, applications, services, databases, and more. You can customize the agent to do physical/virtual infrastructure-focused monitoring by enabling the infrastructure monitoring mode.
The Dynatrace stack can be deployed in your own hybrid cloud or you can use the hosted SaaS service. And you can configure Dynatrace to monitor CPU, memory, storage, NIC metrics, host processes, network health, and the VMware virtualization platform.
- Customizable dashboards for quick and focused data visualization
- Extensible architecture using OneAgent SDK for custom monitoring
- Integrations to monitor Docker, Kubernetes, and OpenShift
- Automated discovery and dependency mapping
- Easy agent management from the tool’s UI
- Significant learning curve due to the tool’s complexity
- Comparatively high cost
Dynatrace offers a 15-day free trial. The price of infrastructure starts at $21/ month for hosts with 8 GB memory.
AppDynamics provides a comprehensive infrastructure monitoring solution that covers server, storage, and network components in both cloud-native and hybrid environments. You can deploy it on-premises or consume it as a SaaS service. With AppDynamics, you can avoid downtime by tagging user experience and business outcomes (the tool’s real focus) to events collected from your infrastructure.
This tool’s full-stack monitoring capabilities help correlate application performance issues with low-level infrastructure bottlenecks, thereby accelerating root-cause analysis and remediation. The server monitoring feature gives you an enhanced logical view of the server landscape, from the data center hierarchy, to racks and CPU, to memory, network, and server disk usage. Storage monitoring supports NetApp storage solutions and can help tie down performance bottlenecks to database and storage anomalies.
- Intelligent workload optimizer to finetune performance proactively
- Coverage and correlation of all infrastructure component metrics for visibility
- Detailed server monitoring dashboards and metrics
- Health rules and policies for anomaly detection and auto-remediation
- Out-of-the-box integration with incident management and alerting systems like ServiceNow, PagerDuty, and Jira
- No automation for agent installation and configuration
- Complex configuration and a lot of effort required to separate information from noise
AppDynamics offers a free 15-day trial. The infrastructure monitoring edition, which includes foundational infrastructure diagnostics, starts at $6/month per CPU core.
15. Site24x7 Infrastructure Monitoring
Site24x7 is a cloud-hosted monitoring solution capable of monitoring infrastructure components like servers, networks, containers, and virtualization platforms. Whether hosted on-premises or in the cloud, it requires an agent to be installed on the server being monitored. Site 24×7 can collect all relevant metrics from Windows and Linux servers and deliver the information in a single console. This includes critical Windows performance metrics such as CPU/memory/disk usage, services, and processes health, as well as Linux server metrics like load average and thread and handle count of processes.
The data collected by the agent is displayed in dashboards with views covering network information, application activity, and server metrics in order to give you live insights on infrastructure health. You can use Site24x7 to monitor the performance of Docker hosts and Kubernetes clusters. In addition to the tool’s out-of-the box monitoring capabilities, you can write custom monitoring plugins using Shell, PowerShell, Batch, VB, Python, and more.
- Capable of monitoring 60+ performance metrics for servers
- Real-time monitoring and analysis of Windows and Linux services and processes
- Automated discovery, mapping, and monitoring of network devices
- Monitors availability and performance of services like DNS, FTP, and SMTP
- 100+ plugin integrations for applications like MySQL and Apache
- Complex to set up and configure due to the range of options available
- Server monitoring limited to a few technologies
Site 24×7 offers a free 30-day trial. Infrastructure monitoring prices start at $8/month for up to 10 servers, with the option to purchase additional monitoring addons.
What Is the Best IT Monitoring Tool for You?
Your infrastructure monitoring tool must provide a bird’s-eye view of your IT environment’s health status, including performance, availability bandwidth, utilization, and security. It should be able to generate infrastructure alerts based on the monitored metrics and create reports that deliver insights, irrespective of how or where the application is hosted. Some solutions are specialized for specific aspects of this (e.g., performance metrics), while others provide full-spectrum monitoring with options for customization.
In any case, when choosing an IT monitoring software, the complexity of set up is a deciding factor. Some tools come with out-of-the box integration with your infrastructure components, while others require more effort to configure.
You may be tempted to develop your own monitoring tools to avoid vendor lock-in and get more flexibility. However, in the long run, this will add to the complexity of maintaining your code base and will require additional effort each time you want to add new features. When it comes to build vs. buy, it’s always best to consider the relevant monitoring metrics and then buy an established monitoring tool to avoid additional complexities.
If you want an inkling of what such a tool can do for you, check out Sematext Monitoring, our infrastructure monitoring tool that provides full-stack visibility for your IT environment. There’s a 14-day free trial available for you to try all its functionalities.
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Ehab has extensive experience in software engineering and technical leadership roles for over ten years. His main interests involve large-scale back-end development, microservices architecture, cloud infrastructures/DevOps, distributed systems, data engineering, technical writing, and people management. Ehab holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Bonn, Germany and he is currently leading the R&D team at Alma Health (UAE-based healthcare startup).