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Compare 8 tools for IT monitoring

IT monitoring is a staple in any IT environment. Before deciding what to use, examine all the options available and compare the features, benefits and costs of the top tools.

Choosing the right tools for IT monitoring can be the difference between experiencing system setbacks or success, so create a strategy and take the time to review every available option.

IT monitoring helps organizations understand if the software and hardware in their IT environment is working as expected. This information is next to impossible to collect, track and translate as an organization without creating a strategy. Turn to IT monitoring tools for help.

To decide on a tool, determine what information or metrics need tracking and why. Reasons include monitoring data, strengthening application performance, tracking system health issues and planning for the long term. Start by comparing the features, benefits and costs to determine what software will work best for the organization.

The following IT monitoring tool list is in no particular order.


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.

The tool enables IT administrators to create customizable, detailed dashboards, but provides only a few pre-built options. The software can be deployed on premises or installed as a SaaS application.

Datadog, like Grafana, provides a number of features and charting concepts. Organizations and IT admins must commit as much time as possible to becoming familiar with every aspect of the tool. In addition, organizations must consider the fact that Datadog and Grafana require admins to find a way 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.


Zabbix is an infrastructure monitoring tool that shines in monitoring 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 SaaS application. Zabbix is open source and free to download.


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.

Systems 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 pricing starts at $11 per month for the Digital Experience Monitoring package and goes as high as $69 per month for Full-Stack Monitoring.


Grafana is an open source monitoring system that runs as a web application. It excels as a virtualization tool and provides interactive graphs for admins, though dashboard organization and designs are limited to those available from Grafana Labs and its community.

Grafana can integrate with a number of data sources and visualizes the 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, which makes it difficult to compare multiple data sources simultaneously.

However, Grafana and Datadog are similar in that they both have a steep learning curve for new users. To use them, admins must find a way to distribute configurations made from one machine to many. But DevOps tools such as Salt can help admins avoid maintaining these tools manually.

Grafana is free on GitHub. The Pro version provides additional features, such as 13-month retention of metrics and data source permissions, and starts at $49 per month. An Advanced version is available for custom data usage with pricing upon request.


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

Nagios enables IT admins to catch issues before they become a problem. The system can run both self-initiated active checks and passive checks with external applications. It checks for application, network and server resources, and sends out notifications if systems reach critical levels. This ensures 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 is free and is good for smaller-sized companies. Nagios XI is better for larger companies because it includes additional features, such as detailed graphs, reports and capacity planning. The Standard Edition of Nagios XI starts at $1,995, and the Enterprise Edition starts at $3,495.


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 function for customers. But the tool requires additional coding from client libraries to define and set specific metrics.

It also does not provide long-term storage, so admins must create and maintain a storage reserve.

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

Both Grafana and Prometheus are time-series data tools, so they can integrate together for microservices, container-based systems and applications.


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 both cloud and hybrid environments, and on premises or as a SaaS.

The Infrastructure Monitoring Edition of AppDynamics costs $6 per month, per CPU core, and provides infrastructure monitoring only. The Premium Edition is $60, and the Enterprise Edition is $90.

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 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.

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