While more applications are moving to the cloud, the need for a local server goes away. But as an IT Pro, you still want to monitor your IT infrastructure. This is where a cloud based monitoring solution comes in. You only need to install a small agent on a simple pc to monitor the whole network. No need for a server with an expensive Windows licenses anymore. The advantage of a cloud based server monitoring solution is that you always can check the status of your servers and network from your mobile phone. You also don’t have to spend time any more on updating your network monitoring solution.
I have monitored my network for the past 15 years with an on-premise solution from PRTG. When we moved into our new main office I placed a 55-inch tv with a Grafana dashboard linked to PRTG for a nice network status overview. But as we are scaling down on our servers in the data center, I wanted to see if those Cloud Based Network Monitoring solutions can take over our local PRTG solution.
On-premise vs Cloud Based Server Monitoring tools
So the first thing we want to know if there are any restrictions or limitations with a hosted monitoring solution. All available cloud based monitoring solutions are working with an agent or remote probe, so there is no difference in what you can monitor. Even with the hosted PRTG solution you still can create custom sensors (like PowerShell or VBScript).
Number of Sensors
The number of sensors you can monitor is one of the big, maybe the only, real difference. The cloud based monitoring solutions range between the 1000 and 5000 sensors, where with an on-premise solution you can monitor an unlimited amount of sensors. The only limit with on-premise is the size of your cluster.
One of the drawbacks of cloud based network monitoring solutions is the security. The data of your IT infrastructure is stored in the cloud, which could be a security risk. If there is a breach at the hostings provider’s system, your data can be compromised. But the security of cloud applications is most of the time pretty good or even better then you can do your self in a small business environment.
If you need remote access to your monitoring system, and you probably should, then the cloud based monitoring solution is ready to go. Most of them come with an app and are available from the internet so you can check you IT Infrastructure at any moment. Where for an on-premise solution you need to make the necessary changes to your network to allow access from the outside. (which could lead in to a security risk if you don’t set it up properly)
Cloud based server monitoring tools can be set-upped in minutes. You only need to install a small agent and the auto discovery will do the rest of the work. Where with an on-premise solution you need to deploy a new Windows server, install the software, make the necessary firewall changes and keep everything up-to-date.
Cloud based server monitoring solutions
So I found three promising cloud based network monitoring solutions that are worth to take a look at.
The first we are looking into is PRTG Cloud. They offer to monitor up to 5000 sensors and support one of the most extensive amounts of sensors available. What I love about PRTG is the ability to create maps to visualize your network with live status information. The plans start at $ 149,- per month for 500 sensors (a sensor is a CPU, network interface, hard disk etc) So monitoring the vitals of one server will take up to 5 sensors at least (ping, CPU, mem, disk, pagefile)
When you signup for at My PRTG an environment will be set up for you in minutes. You get a nice dashboard to manage your subscriptions and a personal domain to access your network monitor. After you log in, you see a PRTG interface as we are used to with the on-premise version. Which is great if you have been using PRTG before like I have.
To monitor your network you will need to download a remote probe and install it on a computer that runs 24/7. Also, you need to open up the firewall for a two-way TCP communication on a specific port. After you installed and connected the remote probe to the cloud environment you can be starting adding the devices you want to monitor.
PRTG comes with an autodiscovery feature that is very good. Just enter the IP address of your router / firewall / server, make sure you add the credentials for the right protocol (ssh, domain account, SNMP etc) to the device or group and it will find all available sensors that you can think of.
You can find more information about PRTG and PRTG Cloud here
If you are on a tight budget, Uptrends Infra has a plan for you. They offer monthly plans in small steps, starting at 30 sensors for $ 23,- up to a max of 1000 sensors for $ 392,-. The infra part of Uptrends is able to monitor all the popular server versions and network appliances.
I created a trial to see how easy it’s to install the agent and monitor a domain controller. You cloud environment is up and running within a minute, which is great. You can download the agent that you need to install on a Windows device to start monitoring your network. There is no need to open up any firewall ports, the agent will connect to the cloud server without any issues.
I had some difficulties to start monitoring a simple Windows server, you need to add the credentials first to your agent (infrastructure > agents > right side “add credentials”). It connected with the server, but somehow it can’t find the right performance counter for the network card. So I am not really convinced yet. I don’t like spending hours setting up each sensor, debugging every server. (Tried two server, one can’t connect at all)
The dashboard is ok, but not fancy either. Just a simple and clean overview:
Anturis looked promising when you check the website. They have a lot of plans available so you don’t pay to much if you only need to monitor a few servers. But after I register for the trial and started monitoring one of the servers I noticed that you need to install the agent on every server that you want to monitor. Pretty labour intensive and if we look at the other solutions, something that should not be necessary.
Monitoring of SNMP devices is also possible, you need to install an agent on a computer or server and connected through that agent to the network device. Anturis lacks a good autodiscovery feature, so you need to find the right Object ID to monitor your self.
Also on the Dashboard part is room for improvement, you can create a hierarchical view of the network, but it only shows the device overall status.
Cloud based server monitoring compared
|PRTG Cloud||Uptrends Infra||Anturis|
|Price starting at||$ 149||$ 23||$ 10|
|Price for 1000 sensors||$ 249||$ 392||$650|
|Support||Yes||Yes - by email||Yes|
|Notifications included||Push through the app||250 SMS alert on signup||Yes - credits same as amount of sensors per month|
|More info||More info||More info|
see also: PRTG #1 Monitoring tool on Reddit and Spiceworks (review 2018)