Zenoss Core is the open source version of the commercial Zenoss product and for the purpose of this review I’m running it from a preconfigured CentOS virtual machine I had downloaded from them to run on my Windows desktop. The main system however is only available to Linux and Mac users if you wish to create a ‘real’ instance of the software.
The ZenOSS login screen.
Setting up and logging onto the web based GUI for the first time was a doddle with a step-by-step wizard to hold your hand in creating a user account and telling ZenOSS to automatically discover any network devices it can find. Once completed you are then taken you to the main dashboard screen. This screen is configurable and once you get rid of the annoying Google Maps ‘portal’ with Its message telling you that you need a Google Maps API key to use it (and let’s face it, if you have a single site LAN to manage then the last thing you will require is a map of the entire planet) you can place other portals within it giving you the information you actually require. Unfortunately it didn’t quite give me the kind of information I would have wanted in many of these.
Monitoring a port on the office switch.
Once the automatic device discovery was complete, I once more had to manually add a few devices and was more than a bit dismayed to find that Netgear had no pre-defined entry as other hardware/software manufacturers had and so had to create one myself.
I also noted that the local network ‘map’ was not very configurable and it laid out all of the devices in a circle around a central network cloud which then would not allow me to lay them out in any kind of logical order. There is also an extensive library of ‘zenpacks’, plugins to cater for specific hardware, applications and operating systems, to expand the functionality of the system.
The ZenOSS network maps are quite basic.
All in all, ZenOSS Core contained all of the features I would expect to see in a well-developed network monitoring package, although it just didn’t have the kind of user friendly ‘flow’ and intuitiveness I would have liked to have seen in such a higher end open-source project and playing ‘hunt the feature’ every few minutes leads me to think it needs a tad more work to get the layout and work-flow right. It’s a good, fully featured and well written piece of software; just don’t expect to be able to use it without referring to the user guide or the ‘How-to’ videos which can be found on their homepage on a regular basis.
- Lots of configuration options
- Instructional videos on their web site
- Takes some learning and you still have to deal with Linux via a shell at times
- Lots of configuration to do
- Not all devices supported in default/initial configuration.
Operating systems: Linux, Mac
Download from: www.zenoss.org
Download VM: www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/155743