Infrastructure monitoring gives you insight into the overall health of your project. By collecting and analyzing data coming from IT infrastructure, systems, and processes, you can prevent incidents, evaluate performance, better optimize and scale, or find a root cause of everything that's happening within your system.
The world is becoming more digital every day. This puts a lot of stress on service providers since the performance of their infrastructure is mission-critical for countless clients or end-users. Even small misconfiguration errors or DNS outages can cut people from communicating with the outside world, source of income, or cause other issues.
Infrastructure monitoring ensures that we prevent these major outages, or in the worst-case scenarios reduce the time necessary for a resolution to a minimum.
Benefits of Infrastructure monitoring
Having a good infrastructure monitoring solution allows:
- Project performance optimization
- Enhancement of the user experience
- Capacity to ingest data from a wide array of sources and handle it during both planned and unplanned traffic overloads
- Monitoring of detecting and reporting outages, bad resource management, and performance decrease trends over time
- Using collected data to determine the root cause
- Proactive monitoring, which helps to prevent issues before they occur
What to monitor with Infrastructure monitoring?
- Hardware. Collect and analyze data from sensors, such as battery life, CPU and Memory usage, Disk space, fan speed, or user-defined custom sensors.
- Network. Make sure that your internal network is performing as it is supposed to. IT infrastructure monitors often offer network monitoring solutions useful not only for performance evaluation but also security.
- Applications. Tracking application performance and user behavior is essential for good infrastructure monitoring.
Best Practices in Infrastructure Monitoring
- Organize your notifications and alerts. Infrastructure generates enormous amounts of data each day, and not all logs are essential for monitoring. By attributing importance to specific types of notifications, setting thresholds and custom rules, you will receive notifications and alerts in a logical manner, which will be beneficial in incident resolution.
- Monitor Baseline Metrics and KPIs. No matter how accurate, your thresholds and alerts are not permanent because your system changes over time due to both internal and external factors. A systemic review of these values will ensure consistent and accurate results.
- Pick your partner wisely. The market is saturated with professional and progressive monitoring solutions, and in order to survive, each needs to stand out a bit in their respective fields. You can use this to your advantage, study and compare each solution closely and pick the one that will suit you the most. If they offer a free solution or a trial period, don't hesitate and go for it.
- Make sure your teams get the right data. Infrastructure monitoring can produce a lot of operationally valuable data. However, not every team can work with the same data equally. Customize data visualization and dashboards for each team individually.
10 Best Infrastructure Monitoring Tools in 2023
We went over the basics of Infrastructure Monitoring. Now it's time to take a look at the Best Infrastructure Monitoring tools in 2023.
1. Better Stack
Better Stack is a modern Infrastructure Monitoring platform offering a broad spectrum of monitoring tools. Its main focus lies on Infrastructure monitoring and Incident management, and proper downtime communication with Public Status Pages. Each HTTP or ping-based incident is verified from multiple geolocations to guarantee the authenticity of the alert and integration into the most popular platforms, alongside unlimited phone calls, ensure that you will be the first one to know about any incident.
Better Stack covers the monitoring of key infrastructure aspects such as Website Uptime, Networks, Applications, and Cloud. Every incident is reported with a second by second incident timeline and filtered by a smart incident merging tool to save time and let you focus on the root-cause analysis. Better Stack, also offers Logtail a modern and effective log management tool. These two tools, working in tandem pres ent an unparalleled full-stack monitoring solution scalable from start-ups all the way to Enterprise solutions.
Basic Better Stack package is available for free, with 90 seconds checking period, 10 monitors, free e-mail alerts, and integration into Slack and MS Teams. Paid subscriptions start with the Freelancer package for $24/month, offering Push notifications for iOS and Android, Post-mortems, Uptime monitoring tools, and a 30 seconds check frequency. The Small Team solution, starting at $64/month, includes 100 monitors, on-call scheduling, and more than 200+ integrations, alongside enhanced uptime monitoring and incident management tools. If you are looking for a solution for multiple teams, reach out for the Business Package or book a demo with one of the engineers and ask for a custom quote.
Main benefits of Better Stack:
- Better Stack offers a combination of Incident Management, Infrastructure Monitoring, and Status Pages
- Can work in tandem with Better Stack Logs for a full-stack monitoring platform
- Reasonable Pricing model
Dynatrace offers an all-in-one platform for full-stack monitoring. It offers out-of-the-box insights into your infrastructure. Advanced observability is available at scale for all infrastructure and is fully automatic. Dynatrace collects data from the cloud, hybrid, containers, VMs, network, servers, storage, and many more.
Thanks to advanced observability across PaaS and container technologies like AWS, Azure, Kubernetes, or Cloud Foundry, you gain access to process detection and resource utilization, network usage, and performance, log monitoring. Or you can hold your partners accountable and verify their SLAs by third-party data and event monitoring integration. However, Dynatrace's complexity comes with a price, and fully plunging into how it works takes time.
You can get Dynatrace as a full-stack monitoring solution or pick just the Infrastructure monitoring solution. The Full-stack monitoring package starts at $69/month. Infrastructure monitoring starts at $21/month for 8GB per Host.
Main Benefits of Dynatrace
- Automated monitoring, discovery, and dependencies mapping
- Customizable dashboards
- Incident management automatization
Zabbix is a full-stack, Enterprise ready open source monitoring tool licensed under the GNU GPL2 license. It allows you to monitor everything from Network, via Server and Cloud, to Applications and services. Zabbix can run either on-premise or on one of the many supported cloud platforms. Zabbix offers unlimited scalability for any infrastructure, flexible monitoring and visualization tools, and seamless deployment that will take no more than 10 minutes. All of the collected data is handled by widget-based dashboards, which can be customized with a drag and drop.
Zabbix allows you to collect metrics from Network devices, Cloud, containers and virtual machines, Databases, Applications, HTTP(s) endpoints, and many more. Alerting is handled by multiple platforms, including On-Call, Opsgenie, Pagerduty, Slack, MS Teams, Telegram, or Webhooks.
Zabbix offers a full set of education courses and materials with recognized certificates, confirming a certain level of expertise in Zabbix's function. Zabbix is really lightweight, but offers support for almost every aspect of infrastructure aspects and is kept alive and growing by its strong community, but also commercial clients and support.
Zabbix is open-source, so there are no subscription packages. However, you can enroll in one of their courses or purchase advice in the form of technical support or consulting.
Main Benefits of Zabbix:
- An open-source tool, offering an enterprise-ready solution
- A lot of seminars and other forms of education are available
4. Elastic Stack
Elastic or the ELK stack is a synthesis of three open-source tools. E stands for Elasticsearch used to search and filter different kinds of data. L stands for Logstash that serves as the log management and analysis tool, and K for Kibana, which handles data visualization. These tools combined offer a powerful insight into your infrastructure.
Fleek, the Unified Elastic Agent with centralized management, allows you to collect and manage logs from infrastructure sources like AWS, Azure, GCP, Kafka, and Nginx. You can also break down application and infrastructure silos by enriching log entries with metadata for faster root cause detection.
While the ELK is available for free, you still have to pay for means necessary to run ELK like infrastructure, storage, or network, which can get really expensive from a certain point. ELK stack is really a swiss knife when it comes to infrastructure monitoring, and while that's certainly a good thing, its deployment and configuration can get really challenging.
Main Benefits of the ELK Stack:
- Real-time data collection and analysis
- Support for multiple scripting and programming languages
- Option to be hosted either on-premise or on cloud
5. New Relic
New Relic is a complete monitoring tool collecting data from the whole stack. Using New Relic, you can analyze and put into context data from logs, infrastructure, apps, or cloud services in one place. Thanks to real-time information on essential performance metrics, you can always evaluate the overall state and performance of your system, predict and prevent any possible issues. By correlating data and visualizing relationships, you can enrich your root-cause analysis with valuable data.
New Relics offers visibility of your infrastructure on every level within a five-minute setup and zero maintenance. With a proactive approach, you can immediately detect changes in your ecosystem. You can also observe the overall state of your entire system across all your hosts and reduce risks by troubleshooting workflow.
New Relic offers a free subscription package for one full user, 100GB of data ingestion per month, more than 8 days of metrics retention, unlimited querying, and 100 Synthetic Checks. You also get Unlimited free alerts, Proactive Anomaly Detection, and 1k free incident intelligence events per month. Support is handled by a community forum. Premium subscriptions work as an upgrade on top of the Free tier, meaning that you pay only for what you use extra and get access to more features. Pro and Enterprise tiers are also available on-demand.
Main Benefits of New Relic
- Full observability from one dashboard
- Easy on-boarding
6. AppDynamics (Cisco)
AppDynamics is a modern monitoring solution focused on raising effectiveness and modernization. The product is available either as an on-premise deployment or as a SaaS. Thanks to its full-stack background, Appdynamics collects, compares, and analyzes data from the entire infrastructure and helps to find the root cause much faster.
Their intelligent optimization tool allows you to visualize every component of the infrastructure ranging from the server, through databases, to hybrid and cloud-native environments and help you to ensure optimal application performance.
AppDynamics offers a plethora of solutions and tools, which makes it quite hard to grasp. Also, the lack of automation during the set-up process might please only the more experienced users.
Infrastructure monitoring prices depend on the number of CPU Cores used and start at $6/month per CPU core. For complete back-end monitoring, you can try the Premium Edition for $60/month per CPU core or the Enterprise Edition starting at $90/month per CPU core.
Main Benefits of AppDynamics
- Business Observability
- AppDynamics university
Site24x7 is also an all-in-one monitoring tool offering either a full-stack solution or individual features for Website, Infrastructure, APM, or a Monitoring as a Service, remote monitoring tool. On top of that, Site24x7 offers a lot of Free Tools for Network, DevOps, and Site Reliability Engineers, covering tools for Domain, Sysadmins, Developers, Cloud, Content, and many more.
Site24x7 solution features an Automated discovery, Mapping, and Monitoring of network devices. All the data collected are represented in dashboards, giving you a complete overview of your infrastructure's performance and health. Plenty of third-party integrations are available, and if you find you need custom monitoring plugins, you can write your own using Shell, PowerShell, Batch, VB, or Python.
Site24x7 offers both an All-in-one monitoring solution starting at $35/month or just the Infrastructure monitoring package starting at $9/month. In this package, you get access to monitoring of 10 Websites/Servers/Clouds, a 500MB of Logs capacity, Cron, Kubernetes, StatsD Metrics monitoring, and more. You can also customize your subscription with Add-ons, which cover Basic and Advanced Monitor Add-ons, Network Monitoring Interfaces Add-ons, NetFlow analyzer, or Log management.
Main Benefits of Site24x7:
- Full-observability possible
- Automated Discovery and Mapping
Datadog offers a complete visibility solution into infrastructure performance with easy deployment and minimal maintenance. Thanks to more than 450 vendor-backed integrations, you can monitor all your cloud, on-premise servers, container, databases, and more services from one platform. Using anomaly detection and metrics correlation, you can detect root causes of incidents faster. Customizable drag-and-drop dashboards can be created within seconds and allow you to track all the important information at all times.
Datadog's infrastructure monitoring offers a free subscription, including Core collection and visualization features. Support is handled by a discussion group, you get 1-day metric retention and up to 5 hosts. Datadog also guarantees Enterprise-Grade security, Host and Container Maps, Out-of-the-box Dashboards, and product training videos. If you are looking for a more complex solution, you can reach for the Pro(for $15/month) or Enterprise(for $23/month) packages.
Main benefits of Datadog:
- Custom Metrics
- More than 450 vendor-backed integrations are available
Prometheus is available as an open-source project, available under the Apache 2 License on GitHub with more than 40 thousand stars. Prometheus implements a highly dimensional data model identifying time series data by metric name and key/value pairs. You can also benefit from a flexible query language PromQL.
Prometheus is mostly written in Go. It scrapes metrics from instrumented jobs, stores them, and then runs rules over this data, and if needed, generates alerts. Visualization is handled by Grafana.
Prometheus is great for reliable monitoring, but as they put it, you should not go for it if you need 100% accuracy, such as for per-request billing. Its documentation is well-written and open-source, and Prometheus still has a lot of active developers from the community.
Main Benefits of Prometheus:
- Open source license and well-written documentation
- A dynamic community of active developers
Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring offers full-stack observability into your whole infrastructure. It offers real-time insights into both on-site servers and the cloud. You can use it to overview the overall health of your infrastructure by collecting metrics from Applications, servers, containers, processes, events, databases, and more.
Sematext allows you to observe containerized applications running in Docker or platforms like K8s, Docker Swarm, or Nomad. You can benefit from its automated discovery features and anomaly detection for alerting. Integrations with incident management tools such as PagerDuty, Opsgenie, Splunk On-Call, and Webhooks are possible.
You can try Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring in a 14-day free trial. From there you can choose one of their premium pricing tiers, including one free for up to three hosts, or Standard and Pro, starting at around $0.007/container host per hour.
Main Benefits of Sematext:
- Automated Discovery and Sematext Agent
- 100+ integrations for the most popular stacks.
In this article, we went through the basics of Infrastructure monitoring, its significance, benefits, and best practices. Then we went through the best tools for Infrastructure monitoring in 2023. The most rational next step seems to be to dig deeper, pick your favorites and find out which tool suits your needs the most.
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