If you had £5000 to spend on technology what would you get?

I listen to the dot net rocks podcast and they ask this question every show. (If you don’t listen then you should!)

I don’t know what my answer would be as there are so many gadgets and cool things that I like the sound of.

I might get a surface pro 3, it’s a tablet with attachable keyboard that’s more powerful than my current laptop. But at £600 it’s expensive so maybe not. Maybe instead I would install a SSD into my existing laptop to increase disk performance.

I’d like a new car with lots of gadgets built-in. A friend gave me a ride in his new BMW and it’s nice. Bluetooth so I don’t have to have an audio cable to listen to podcasts. Parking sensors so no chance the wife will prang it. Built in satnav etc

google-carWhile we are on the subject of cars eventually I’d like a google self driving car as I think Google is a better driver than me. Think about it I drive to a friends I have a drink I sleep in the back seat as my car drives me home. Once all cars are automated I believe the roads will be much safer.

The last thing I would spend on is an intensive training course on development, I would really like to get further in dev and more training would really help. Specifically something that would help solve my current dev problems. I am sure it is possible for me to learn dev with self-study but that requires a discipline I don’t think I have, I easily eat my time up with my current job, wife and other interests.

I recently had £6500 to spend on improving my employers IT infrastructure. That was really hard. It sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t.

Once I started looking at the problems that I wanted to solve and what hardware I wanted I quickly used it all up and that was before I factored in license and software costs. In the end I just had to order what I wanted and hope that on a future date I could spend on other areas. I got a super powerful server that I could virtualize almost all our existing physical servers with it I needed licences, which left me just enough to get a NAS for file storage.

I love Nagios

Nagios

You may not have heard of Nagios but it has saved my bacon quite a few times.

Nagios is an open source server monitoring application that runs on many linux flavours.

I can’t remember exactly when I first installed nagios but I am guessing it was sometime in 2007/8. My boss gave me a book about it (which I never read) and told me to create a system to monitor the companies servers.

Nagios is not simple to set up. It relies on setting up various Hosts and services. Hosts are usually physical servers that you want to monitor and services are all the services you want to monitor. As this is a linux program all these can be configured by editing the right config file

Nagios is very flexible and can be expanded easily with the use of plugins, if you want to monitor something there is usually a plugin available. If you have a dell server running openmanage software there is even a plugin that allows the temperature of your server to be monitored.

If you want to monitor windows servers the use of nsclient++ is a real advantage. This is a simple client that runs as a service on your windows server. This allows nagios to track memory, cpu, disk space, performance and services, in fact almost everything that you would want to monitor.

Over the years I have kept a close eye on Nagios and added extra checks as new services were added or problems encountered. A few years ago I dabbled with sending alerts out via SMS message and once I got a smart phone found an app to keep track of Nagios 24/7.

But recently I have started wondering if Nagios is the best way to monitor modern servers like 2012 or remote services like Azure. I want something that is easy to expand as your IT infrastructure expands. Something that relies on running on a linux OS requires your IT staff have a knowledge of linux and you keep that server maintained and updated.

My question is: Is Nagios still the best way to monitor my servers?