Disclaimer: I recently attended VMworld 2016 – US. My flights were paid for by myself, VMware provided me with a free pass to the conference and various bits of swag, and Tech Field Day picked up my hotel costs. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
What’s a Paessler?
Benjamin Day, Senior Systems Engineer with Paessler took us through some of the background on the company. Founded in 1997 in Nuremberg, Germany, they are 100% owned by founders and employees. The US is their largest market and they tell us that over 70% of Fortune 100 enterprises worldwide use PRTG.
What’s a Sensor?
PRTG is often referred to as “MRTG for Windows”. When I say often, I mean it was mentioned by Paessler yesterday. But they also say it on their website. You can get a product overview from here. You can also check out a demo here.
So what are sensors? PRTG is defined (built and licensed) at the sensor level. Pretty much anything you would monitor is a sensor (you can read more on that here). Note also that it’s one sensor, but not one metric (these are known as channels). Generally speaking you can count on using 5-10 sensors per device. Here’s an image I swiped from the Paessler website that kind of shows what sensors look like.
Licences come in lots of 500, 1000, 2500, 5000, and Unlimited. The good things is that they’re not named, so Christopher doesn’t have to monitor those printers if he really doesn’t want to.
From a notification perspective, there are a bunch of options to get the message out, and you can send things via:
- SMS (through third-party or IP-enabled SMS gateways);
- PRTG-enabled smart devices (there’s a mobile app);
- syslog; and
- SNMP traps.
There are also options for auto remediation, and you can do things via a script (powershell, shell, etc) or, amongst other things, kick off a web action (handy for ticketing systems)
Thresholds and Notifications
There are all sorts of things you can do in terms of actions when you exceed thresholds, including:
- Sending email
- Sending push notifications (to a user or group, and you can customise the message)
You can modify the format – html, text, text with custom content and customise the priority. You can add entry to event logs and send Amazon simple notification service message. You might want to assign a ticket as well.
Note also that PRTG is multi-tenant capable, making it an interesting choice for service providers. There’s also an option to “white box” it with your own logo if you’re into that kind of thing. Note that MSP licensing is done in a different fashion to normal licensing.
My favourite thing (besides what seems like a pretty comprehensive monitoring capability and lightweight deployment requirement) is that every sensor has a QR code. And the PRTG app has a QR code scanner (you see where I’m going with this?). You can print out the device QR codes and they’re come up in PRTG. There’s no longer a requirement to faff about with long labels on hosts. If you’re using per port sensors on your switches, you can put a QR code on the cable.
Paessler have been doing this for almost 20 years now. It strikes me that the product seems easy to deploy and use while being fairly powerful and feature-rich. If you’d like to try PRTG out there’s a free license you can use for both personal and commercial use. This is limited to 100 sensors.
If you can monitor it with SNMP (their preference) or WMI, and are happy to use a Windows platform, then PRTG could be the tool for you. I recommend checking them out.