Zabbix to the rescue!

Hello Anthony here, from infrastructure ( & England)

Well it’s with great relief that I’ve been allowed to write this in English so welcome to my first, and AFAIK Asial’s first English-language blog.

The big news here in infrastructure is that we’re getting towards the end of a rollout of the Zabbix network management system. This has been quite a long and protracted process as well as a steep learning curve for me. But first let me give you a bit of background.

Well as you might expect Asial has dozens of servers. Some of them, like the mail server or the main website are pretty high profile. Others, located in dark and far-flung corners of the organisation are much less obvious, but the fact is they’re all important for someone. Our problem is how to keep an eye on them all, make sure they’re working properly, have advance warning if they’re about to go wrong and immediate notification if they do.

Most of this information is available in the log files of course but who wants to spend all day trawling through those? Enter Zabbix. First of all you build your Zabbix server, then you install the Zabbix agent on all your other servers. The agent runs in the background collecting information about processor load, free disk space, running services and so on, and periodically sends this info back to your Zabbix server. And not just servers either, Zabbix can collect just about any information you want from just about any network device you can think of. Printers, routers, disk arrays – no problem.

The basic installation was pretty straightforward and the basic templates are enough to get you started but with all this information gathering potential, configuration has taken a while. In fact I expect to be tweaking this for a good while yet.

Anyway the good news is that it works, better than I ever thought. I can get an up to the minute overview of the server status any time, as well as detailed information on specific servers, times of spikes in load, long—term historical trends and goodness knows what else. And an email or text message if anything goes horribly wrong. Blimey, this is great stuff.

So how much does Zabbix cost and where can I get it? Well thanks to the hard work of Alexei Vladishev and the Open Source community, nothing, it’s free! You can download it from here

What did we do before Zabbix? I don’t remember but it wasn’t as pretty as this.

Thanks for reading and hope to have more for you next month