Definition

Zenoss

Contributor(s): Alex Gillis

Zenoss is a company that develops hybrid IT monitoring analytics software for visibility in cloud, virtual and physical IT environments. Zenoss is also the name of this company's software.

Historically, Zenoss was considered a commercial open source software company, but it has since moved to a continuous delivery hybrid IT monitoring platform. Zenoss offers its monitoring analytics through the following software: open source Zenoss Core, enterprise-level Service Dynamics and the hosted Zenoss as a Service (ZaaS).

How Zenoss products operate

Zenoss products can monitor upward of 8,000 systems, including diverse technology stack components, such as servers, storage, OSes, cloud, converged infrastructure, middleware, hypervisors, networks and databases.

Zenoss is agentless, and it uses a collector tool to gather system data and relay it to a central server via a portal for analysis. For example, a collector on a monitored server stores and sends data through the web portal to Zenoss for processing and analytics of server operating metrics, which are compared to normal ranges. The number of collectors in use can range from just a few to several hundred, depending upon the user and their goals.

ZenPacks are plug-ins that enable users to extend Zenoss' functionality. ZenPacks use standard API protocols, such as Simple Network Management Protocol, Secure Shell and Windows Remote Management (WinRM). With ZenPacks, a user can extend monitoring as Service Dynamics, ZaaS or Core collects configuration information and monitors specific elements, devices, systems and workloads.

Zenoss Core and Service Dynamics are wholly containerized software, so the software is deployed in a Docker image. ZaaS is a hosted SaaS product, so it is not installed by the user.

Zenoss Core

Zenoss Core is an open source monitoring platform for IT infrastructures. Core monitors the availability of network devices, network services and host resource OSes, including Microsoft Windows. Core lacks the range of monitoring abilities in Service Dynamics and ZaaS, offers no support and limits user accounts. Core monitors from 500 to 1,000 services. It is paired with a web interface, which shows availability, configurations, performance and events. Management options include events and automatic discovery notifications through an alerting system.

Some Core users rely on it to test the Zenoss UI and capabilities before paying for Service Dynamics or a ZaaS subscription. With limitations in scalability, Core has a low number of possible collectors. Because Core has fewer features and less flexibility than Service Dynamics and ZaaS, it is less often used for full IT infrastructure monitoring. For example, Core is a suitable choice if a user needs to monitor the connections between network services at a small scale. More commonly, users deploy Core as a way to create ZenPacks.

Zenoss Service Dynamics and Zenoss as a Service

Zenoss Service Dynamics and ZaaS have the same monitoring capabilities, but differ in service delivery.

Service Dynamics is Zenoss' on-premises commercial monitoring platform. Service Dynamics monitors most areas of IT infrastructure, including in dynamic environments. Service Dynamics also monitors Microsoft Azure and AWS public cloud services, and it provides analytics and root cause analysis for cloud and virtual and unified communications. ZenPacks create scalability in Service Dynamics to extend and customize monitoring capabilities.

The SaaS offering ZaaS is Zenoss' fastest-growing product. ZaaS offers the same monitoring abilities as Service Dynamics, but the user is not required to download and install updates or upgrades. Zenoss sells ZaaS on a subscription basis, and it does not require hardware to run the monitoring platform, such as an on-premises server or storage space. ZaaS and Service Dynamics share similar uptimes; however, because ZaaS is managed, it takes less effort to implement and maintain than Service Dynamics.

ZenPacks

Four types of ZenPacks are available: commercial, community, open source and subscription. Commercial ZenPacks are supported by ZaaS and Service Dynamics. Community ZenPacks are user-created and open source, and they tend to focus on specific technologies or functionality extensions for Core, Service Dynamics or ZaaS. Open source ZenPacks are Zenoss-created and support traditional IT technologies, such as server, storage and network monitoring devices. Zenoss also offers ZenPacks to integrate with container management tools, such as Docker. Subscription-based ZenPacks are professional service integration packages that Zenoss maintains.

Hundreds of ZenPacks are available from Zenoss and the tool's users. Some users rely on Core to create ZenPacks to use in Service Dynamics or ZaaS.

Zenoss competitors

Zenoss competitors include Datadog and ScienceLogic, as well as Nagios and Zabbix.

Datadog is a monitoring software service for IT and DevOps teams that works in real time and gives alerts. Datadog also integrates with other services, such as communication platform Slack. Datadog is focused more on application monitoring than the deep infrastructure monitoring for which tools such as Zenoss are known.

ScienceLogic provides a cloud-focused monitoring system that also includes IT management capabilities. This software can manage private, public and multi-cloud, as well as networks, storage, hardware and hypervisors.

Zabbix and Nagios are infrastructure monitoring tools that cover a similar range of IT components -- from networks and servers to the hypervisor and OS -- as Zenoss. IT organizations should consider agent-based and agentless options, extensibility and other factors in the monitoring tool selection process.

This was last updated in May 2018

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