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Compare 8 tools for IT monitoring in 2024

Effective monitoring is a cornerstone of any IT environment. Examine the available tool options for IT monitoring and compare their features, benefits and costs.

IT monitoring helps organizations understand if the software and hardware in their environment are working as expected. Without a consistent organizational strategy, collecting, tracking and translating this information is next to impossible. IT monitoring tools can help.

To select the right tool, determine what information or metrics need to be tracked and why. Common reasons include monitoring data, strengthening application performance, tracking system health issues and planning for the long term. Compare the features, benefits and costs of various software options to determine what will work best for the organization.

Run a proof of concept of the tool that will work best. It's important to test new tools on live data to see how they perform. Engineers, security specialists and solution architects should also test the features and UI to ensure the choice meets their requirements.

The following IT monitoring tool list is divided into open source and commercial options. TechTarget Editorial compared these products based on an analysis of IT monitoring tools and trends showing the growth of AI, user reviews on tech blogs and open source community threads, plus information materials from the vendors.

Open source

Arguments for using open source IT monitoring tools include cost effectiveness, customizability and active developer communities. Potential drawbacks include complexity, usability and scaling challenges, and the lack of a dedicated support team.


Grafana is an open source monitoring system that runs as a web application. Grafana supports users through online forums, in-person meetings and a community Slack. The company has also invested in documentation and support content in the form of videos.

Grafana excels as a visualization tool. It offers interactive graphs for admins, but dashboard organization and designs are limited to those available from Grafana Labs and its community. It can integrate with several data sources and visualize metrics for AWS CloudWatch, Azure Monitor, Microsoft SQL Server, InfluxDB and Elasticsearch.

Grafana has an open API but must integrate with other tools -- such as Prometheus, Azure Monitor or MySQL -- to collect data. The tool can also only display data from one data source at a time, making it difficult to compare multiple data sources simultaneously.

Similar to Datadog, Grafana has a steep learning curve for new users. To make the most of the tool, admins must find a way to distribute configurations made from one machine to many. This process can be streamlined using DevOps tools -- such as Salt -- which reduce the need for manual maintenance.

Grafana Labs offers professional training and services for customers with an active Grafana Enterprise subscription. The monitoring system is available for free on GitHub and includes a free tier on Grafana Cloud. The Pro version provides additional features, such as a 13-month retention of metrics and data source permissions, and offers usage-based pricing starting at $55 per user. An Advanced version is also available starting at $299 per month.


Nagios is an open source IT infrastructure monitoring system. It was originally designed to run on Linux but can now run on Unix variants and Windows.

Nagios enables IT admins to catch issues before they become a problem. The system conducts both self-initiated active and passive checks with external applications. It checks for application, network and server resources and sends out notifications if systems reach critical thresholds, ensuring IT admins can address any problems before they grow out of hand. The system can also run agentless and agent-based configurations.

Two popular software tools from Nagios include Nagios Core and Nagios XI. Nagios Core, which is free, is a good option for smaller companies. Nagios XI is better for larger companies thanks to its additional features, such as detailed graphs, reports and capacity planning.

The open source version of Nagios is available for download from Nagios' website. The Standard Edition of Nagios XI starts at $2,495 for 100 nodes, and the Enterprise Edition starts at $4,490 for 100 nodes.


Prometheus is a monitoring and alerting toolkit for microservices, containers and distributed applications. It is a time-series database that can run within Docker or Go applications.

Prometheus is strongest in its metric data collection abilities. It records real-time metrics and works to diagnose problems quickly to ensure proper functionality for customers, but it requires additional coding from client libraries to define and set specific metrics. It does not provide long-term storage, so admins must create and maintain a storage reserve.

Prometheus has yet to incorporate AI natively, but it is well known for being integration-friendly. Its APIs support integration with third-party AI tools, such as Pulumi and

Prometheus is a standalone service; it does not rely on remote services such as network or storage. It is open source and free to download.


Zabbix is an infrastructure monitoring tool that shines when it comes to system flexibility. The tool covers a wide variety of IT components, such as VMs, servers, cloud services and networks. It provides metrics for network, CPU load and disk space consumption.

Zabbix is a good fit for companies looking for a customizable tool because it provides both automated and personalized dashboard templates. It also supplies an API that enables admins to create new applications, automate tasks and integrate with third-party software. This provides better extensibility and access to Zabbix's monitoring features and data.

IT admins can use Zabbix for agent-based and agentless monitoring. It can run in the cloud or on premises, but has no hosted commercial SaaS application. Zabbix is open source and free to download. While it remains a popular IT monitoring tool, the company has not publicly announced an AI strategy, unlike its competitors.

Commercial tools

The commercial IT monitoring tools market is growing and evolving, with Datadog, Dynatrace and New Relic generally acknowledged as the industry standards.


IT and DevOps teams use Datadog to examine performance metrics and event monitoring for infrastructure, platform, application and cloud services. Datadog uses an API to support more than 450 integrations, such as Kubernetes, AWS, Azure, Chef and Jenkins. It also automates log data tagging and correlations.

Datadog enables IT administrators to create customizable, detailed dashboards, but provides only a few prebuilt options. The software can be deployed on premises or installed as a SaaS application. It uses machine learning to analyze infrastructure and application performance automatically.

Like Grafana, Datadog provides several features and charting concepts. Organizations and IT admins must commit as much time as possible to familiarizing themselves with the tool. In addition, organizations must consider the fact that Datadog and Grafana require admins to distribute configurations among machines.

Datadog is free for up to five hosts and one day of data retention. A Pro account costs $15 per host per month, and an Enterprise account is $23 per host per month.


Dynatrace is a monitoring platform with a focus on infrastructure for cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments. It has customizable dashboards that provide easy and quick data access. Admins can configure the platform to monitor network health, storage, CPU and memory. Dynatrace works with cloud computing services, such as AWS and Azure.

Organizations can host Dynatrace as a SaaS application or deploy it in a hybrid cloud environment. Dynatrace can integrate with and track OpenShift, Docker and Kubernetes. Dynatrace has announced plans to launch Dynatrace AI Observability to track both large AI models and the applications they power.

A Dynatrace platform subscription offers usage-based pricing for monitoring, log management and analytics.


AppDynamics is an infrastructure monitoring tool for servers, storage and network components. With its full-stack observability platform, AppDynamics collects and analyzes data with a set of APIs from open source tools and third-party agentless services.

AppDynamics gives admins a full view of the server components, such as memory, CPU and server disk usage. Once the information is collected, AppDynamics translates it into detailed dashboards. The tool works in cloud and hybrid environments, on premises or as a SaaS application. It uses AI and automation to capture app performance insights in complex environments as part of Cisco's Central Nervous System strategy for monitoring.

The Infrastructure Monitoring Edition of AppDynamics costs $6 per month per CPU core and provides infrastructure monitoring only. The Premium Edition is $33 per month per CPU core, and the Enterprise Edition is $50 per month per CPU core.

New Relic

New Relic is an application performance monitoring tool that collects, analyzes and reports performance metrics to IT admins. The tool provides real-time metrics on CPU, memory, disks and network status. Admins can view the collected data on dashboards the system creates automatically to keep up with tracking insights.

New Relic uses application alerts and reports composed of detailed error analytics. This means admins can know the exact location and specific details of an error. It provides cross-application tracing, so instead of switching between different applications to monitor information, all the information is in one place. New Relic supports Java and external environments. The platform does not provide agent management, however, which might lead to additional costs for some organizations.

New Relic includes AI features through New Relic AI and its AIOps capabilities. These AI features enable ops teams to interact with the tool through AI chat and the NRQL console. It transforms natural language into queries, detects anomalies, analyzes error logs, understands stack traces and uses documentation to clarify platform concepts. The AI assistant enables ops team members to ask questions in plain language to understand and address issues within their systems quickly.

New Relic offers a free version for individuals looking to try the tool. It also provides a Standard package for $0.25 per GB, plus Pro and Enterprise packages with prices provided upon request.

This article was originally written by Emily Foster and later expanded by Will Kelly.

Emily Foster formerly covered AI and machine learning as the associate site editor for TechTarget Enterprise AI.

Will Kelly is a technology writer, content strategist and marketer. He has written extensively about the cloud, DevOps and enterprise mobility for industry publications and corporate clients and worked on teams introducing DevOps and cloud computing into commercial and public sector enterprises.

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