blade server Buy server hardware with these key functions in mind

Essential components and tools of server monitoring

Server monitoring requires a list of the right tools to use and infrastructure components to watch. A workflow with these concepts ensures uptime and helps usage predictions.

Server management is an essential part of data center operations. Choosing the right tool for the job and which components to monitor is also essential.

How you address server monitoring changes depending on what you need to keep track of, the type of infrastructure and the environment type. To determine which monitoring tools to choose, you also must consider the dynamic nature of the data center and the workload it must carry. An off-the-shelf option may work well in some situations, while you may need a customized tool in others.

Explore key server components and several of the top tools you can use.

Server components to monitor

Tracking physical and software service components can help troubleshoot errors and predict potential changes in processing requirements.

From a software or service perspective, monitor the CPU, RAM and hard drives. High usage of these often indicates an error with connected components, like when a resource-intensive process is located on a server not designed for it. Storage I/O bottlenecks can occur when multiple users, applications or services access the same storage location.

From a hardware and physical standpoint, errors with storage area networks can happen with the physical connections to the devices. Connection cabling, host bus adapters and switches can fail, which leads to outages.

The data center environment can also cause errors if temperatures get too hot and if there are water leaks or power outages. Performance can degrade or stop completely if the HVAC system fails, an internal server component fails or a software error, such as a firmware bug, causes operational roadblocks.

Essential server monitoring tools

Many server monitoring tools are available as standalone products or as part of larger infrastructure monitoring software. Here is a look at five monitoring tools and software to consider.

1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is software that provides monitoring, optimization and diagnostic tools in a web-based hub for enterprise-level companies or large data centers. With this software, you can quickly identify which server resources are at capacity in real time, use historical reporting to track trends and forecast resource purchasing. SAM enables companies to monitor on-premises, cloud or hybrid app environments and infrastructure.

Main features include the following:

  • Comprehensive monitoring for Microsoft Azure and AWS applications; systems; hypervisors; and IaaS, PaaS and SaaS products, including container monitoring and API polling.
  • More than 1,200 out-of-the-box monitoring templates and customizable templates for your environment.
  • DIY deployment by customers that can start monitoring in approximately an hour.

Licensing for all SolarWinds products is on a perpetual or subscription basis based on the product. For SAM, licensing is either node-based or component-based. Node tier licenses range from 10 to over 5,000 nodes. Component-based licensing counts the number of components, nodes, volumes and assignment component monitors to determine a price. Each component monitor consumes one license, and the license types come in various sizes. The smallest is for 150 components, and the largest is unlimited.

SolarWinds SAM offers a 30-day free trial period.

2. Nagios XI

Nagios XI is an extended interface of the open source Nagios monitoring software. It's highly customizable through its core platform and third-party add-ons. The Nagios XI dashboards offer forecasting and trending data to ensure proactive maintenance and troubleshooting of servers, which are accessible in a web interface.

Main features include the following:

  • Scalable core monitoring software.
  • Automated capacity planning visualizations.
  • Bulk server management tools like Bulk Host Import, Mass Acknowledgement and Auto-Discovery.

Nagios XI has two editions for enterprise customers: Standard and Enterprise. The Standard edition pricing starts at $1,995, and Enterprise starts at $3,495 for 100-node plans. Enterprise edition customers must also purchase an annual maintenance and support plan, ranging from $1,869 for 100-node subscriptions to $17,634.75 for unlimited node subscriptions.

Nagios XI offers a 30-day free trial period.

3. Paessler PRTG

From SMBs looking to monitor a handful of servers to large enterprises and data center owners, PRTG is software that can handle on-premises and cloud-based server monitoring.

Main features include the following:

  • Monitoring of hardware, software, traffic, services, LAN, WAN and servers.
  • Easy deployment and network discovery through an automated tool.
  • Customizable network visualizations and alerts.
  • Centralized platform to monitor any network size through a web interface and mobile app.

PRTG comes in several editions and pricing tiers. PRTG Network Monitor is for small and midsize infrastructures with up to 1,000 devices and services, with pricing ranging from $1,899 to $16,899 per server license. PRTG Enterprise Monitor is for infrastructure environments with thousands of devices and services. Pricing starts at $17,599 to monitor 20,000 sensors annually.

Paessler PRTG offers a 30-day free trial period.

4. Datadog Infrastructure Monitoring

Server monitoring is included in Datadog's Infrastructure Monitoring software. It offers turnkey integrations for your entire tech stack, from on-premises to cloud servers and SaaS and cloud apps to databases. It centralizes server monitoring so teams can visualize traffic flow across their networks and get customized alerts for critical issues.

Main features include the following:

  • More than 650 integrations, including AI and machine learning tools, cloud apps, containers, IoT and network nodes.
  • End-to-end application monitoring and troubleshooting.
  • Automated log collection for easy searchability and visualization.
  • Dashboards that summarize UX, which helps align your tech stack with business impact.

Datadog offers four options for its infrastructure management tool. Pricing ranges from $15 to $34 a host per month. Datadog offers volume discounts for more than 500 hosts a month through its sales team.

Datadog offers a free trial for all four of its pricing tiers.

5. Splunk Observability Cloud

Splunk Observability Cloud offers real-time monitoring and alerting, directed troubleshooting and centralized enterprise controls for large environments. You can use this software in hybrid environments that combine cloud and on-premises infrastructures.

Main features include the following:

  • More than 250 cloud service integrations and pre-built dashboards.
  • Tracking for custom metrics across both IT and business KPIs.
  • Instant and advanced Kubernetes container monitoring.
  • Adaptive alert conditions to reduce alert storms.

Infrastructure monitoring subscriptions start at $15 per host per month. You can also purchase application and infrastructure monitoring for $60 per host per month and end-to-end monitoring for $75 per host per month.

Splunk Observability Cloud offers a 14-day free trial.

Editor's note: This list was compiled based on individual research of infrastructure monitoring software platforms for information about subscription tier offerings and services.

Julia Borgini is a freelance technical copywriter and content marketing strategist who helps B2B technology companies publish valuable content.

Next Steps

Common server issues and their effects on operations

Buy server hardware with these key functions in mind

How should I choose a new server hardware configuration?

Dig Deeper on Data center ops, monitoring and management

Cloud Computing
and ESG