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Nagios XI Free,Guide for the Windows Sysadmin

Getting Started with Nagios XI Free is Extremely Easy!

Please Note: This guide is intended for testing and evaluation only.

At MCS, we strongly feel that Nagios XI is the best IT monitoring software available and has been for quite a long time. XI is the more polished, easy to use product over the community Nagios Core software. We have seen some resistance from enterprises that are mostly Microsoft Windows shops. There is no Windows version of Nagios XI available so sysadmins have to use Linux. For some, this may seem daunting. Getting started with Nagios XI Free is actually one of the simplest Linux tasks out there. Starting from nothing, you can start monitoring in only a few steps. This guide is for the Linux and Nagios newbie so we will cover everything.

Nagios XI used to only be supported on RHEL and CentOS but is now fully supported on Oracle Linux, Debian, and Ubuntu. Right now, we like CentOS 7 Minimal as it is stable, completely open source, and tried and true for running Nagios XI.

Starting Out

  1. Download CentOS 7 Minimal (no GUI needed)
  2. Install CentOS 7. Since I am talking about Microsoft shops in this article, I will use Hyper-V. Use a Gen1 VM any don’t use dynamic memory. If you are using VMware you can get the OS+Nagios XI ready to go in an OVA. We have even run Nagios XI stably on AWS on a t2.micro instance with a few dozen checks running.
  3. Nagios has been optimized very well over the years. You only need 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, and 8GB Storage. Of course, the more resources you assign the better!
  4. After install, login as root.
  5. Now this is the really slick part. As long as your new CentOS 7 Server has internet access, you only need to run a single command to download and fully install Nagios XI.
curl https://assets.nagios.com/downloads/nagiosxi/install.sh | sh

The amazing engineers from Nagios keep this install.sh script up to date for you. Using this command will always get you the latest stable release of Nagios XI fresh from the factory! Grab a cup of coffee and watch a beautiful waterfall of text scroll down your screen.

Take note of the URL to access Nagios XI:

Nagios XI Installation Complete! 
You can access the Nagios XI web interface by visiting: http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

Once the install script is done, you now have a Nagios XI server of your very own. Just for best practices, you should now update your OS and software. Type:

yum update -y

Several items will update and you should reboot in case one of those updates was for the kernel.

reboot
In a browser, visit http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

If you missed the server address you can always run:

ip addr show

Now, set your nagiosadmin password and login via the web. By default, you will be using a 60 day trial of the Unlimited Enterprise Edition. If you plan to purchase Nagios, MCS can get you a key to extend your trial a little longer. If you want to use Nagios XI free, you don’t need any license at all. Just go to Admin > License Information and select free mode. This will let you monitor up to 7 different hosts with unlimited services.

Adding Hosts to Monitor

Nagios XI will monitor itself (localhost) by default. Adding common checks is easy though. Let’s say we want to keep an eye on our website.

  • Go to Configure > Configuration Wizards
  • Search for Website
  • Enter your url
  • Optionally customize your settings for your checks

In about one minute you are monitoring several critical metrics for a website. It is about as easy to monitor Windows Servers, Linux, networking gear, and just about anything with an IP address. It can actually be really fun and rewarding to finally get a real-time view into what is working and what is not.

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Windows 7 EOL

Windows 7 Support will End Jan, 2020

Microsoft’s desktop workhorse, Windows 7 is EOL (end of life) on January 14th, 2020. This a a big deal for organizations that want to stay secure and compatible with the latest software. Users can either purchase a copy of Windows 10 and perform an in-place-upgrade or look at the age of their PC and consider purchasing a brand new PC. Upgrading from Windows 7 to 10 in-place can be a long process and some applications may stop working or need to be reinstalled.

For a company, if your PCs are running Windows 7 and it is more than 6 years old, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and upgrade to a new PC with Windows 10 Pro. Users may be surprised in the speed and efficiency gained from a modern PC. They boot faster, use less energy, and speed up everyday tasks.

Lot’s of PCs Still Run Windows 7 Today

Windows 7 still has a big share of the market at about 30%. This may seem surprising given that a couple years ago Microsoft offered a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Many people didn’t see a compelling reason to upgrade at the time and declined the offer. Based just on usability, Windows 7 is still a very stable product that offers excellent compatibility. Windows 10 looks more modern but there are not any killer features that would compel most users to make the switch.

Of course, the threat of no more security patches is the biggest concern. PCs handling sensitive information would pose a security risk if they remain unpatched. In today’s world of data breaches, using an operating system that is no longer supported is a huge rad flag for blame. The legal liability alone is enough of a reason to start plans now to make the switch.

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Chicago View

Chicago Office Moves to Willis Tower

After a short time in the West Loop the MCS Chicago office has moved into the iconic Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower). The move to the loop will allow our presence in Chicago to grow. We are now staffing up our 84th floor office. Therefore, we are looking for Web Application Developers. Check out our Employment page for more information or to apply for a position. Also, our new mailing address for Chicago is:

MCS
233 S. Wacker Drive, 84th floor
Chicago, IL 60606

Renovation Project

The famous downtown building is currently undergoing a major renovation. The project should be completed by 2020 and will add shopping, restaurants, and green space. In the mean time, construction workers are visible all over the building. However, they are doing a wonderful job of keeping existing tenants operating without interruption.

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SSL Padlock

Why an SSL Certificate is Needed for any Website

In the very early days of the Internet, all sites were accessed with no security or encryption. In 1994 the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) was introduced as a way to securely access a website publicly. Even then, sites would only use this technology if they were accepting credit cards or other sensitive information. Now, it is common for all sites to use https by default. But what does SSL actually do?

SSL primarily accomplishes two goals.

  1. Encryption between your device and the web server
  2. Verification that the site you are visiting is actually the legit one

 

Encryption is obviously important if you are banking online or having a private conversation with someone. It means that even if your Internet line is “tapped” the data would look like garbage without the private key to decrypt it. As technology has progressed, SSL has changed and improved to support more complex encryption that is even harder to crack. This is why your web server needs to renew and re-key SSL certificates fairly regularly. Visiting a site that uses SSL does not give you complete privacy though.

Accessing a website also relies on the use of a DNS query to map the friendly name of the site to an IP address. This lookup is not encrypted and will rely on a DNS server to lookup your query. Typically, this lookup is done by your ISP, like Comcast, AT&T, etc. These companies may not be able to read the specific content of your visit, but they do know what sites you went to.

Green PadlockVerification is the other main goal of SSL. Encrypting your communication will do no good if you are giving it to a fake site. Through different methods, a hacker could setup their own server to pose as a website to collect your data. Mimicking a website is relatively easy to do. What a hacker can’t mimic though is a valid certificate issued by a trusted provider. SSL issuers that are trusted by default in most browsers will almost always verify the owner of a website before a certificate is issued. Hackers can’t easily impersonate a valid certificate from a trusted issuer. If you are visiting a site without a green padlock there is no verification that the site really is the one you wanted to visit. This is how most phishing scams work. Sites impersonate a reputable site and bait users to giving away their information freely.

Because of the relative ease and obvious benefits of SSL, browsers have started to penalize non-SSL sites as not secure. In addition, search engines may also view an insecure site more poorly and hurt their search ranking. We have been implementing https on all new sites we launch for our customers and strongly encourage older sites to adopt this security feature as well.

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Application Developers

We are hiring an Application Developer – Web/PHP

MCS has a position open for an Application Developer – Web/PHP. This is a full time position at our Springfield, IL location. We need someone who is skilled at PHP development with at least 5 years of professional experience. This is an intermediate to advanced position.

Find Out More

Visit our employment page for more information on the position and how to apply. We look forward to adding another member to our team!

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Chicago MCS Office

Chicago Branch Office Opens in West Loop

We are proud to announce that we are opening a branch office in Chicago. Our new office at 550 West Washington in Chicago, IL opens August 1st, 2018. This marks our first branch location and our commitment to growth. We will be able to better serve the Chicago market with our new base there. MCS has served the Chicagoland market via travel and remote support. With a full-time presence in the area, MCS will be able to deliver faster service, and better customer service.

Our New Chicago Space

MCS Chicago Office WorkspaceOur new space includes lots of amenities to make working better for our employees. We have meeting space for up to 20 people, private offices, and a relaxing and inviting common space for quick meetings. In addition, we can take a quick break in a mediation room or enjoy the view on our outdoor patio. Also, this West Loop location is convenient to public transit and downtown. IT Service customers in the area are welcome to stop by and say hello.

Recently, MCS has developed a focus on Nagios consulting and implementation. Most of these projects are performed remotely for enterprise customers in larger markets. We hope to engage with enterprise customers in Chicago on a more personal level. Having a workspace right in the city will allow MCS to collaborate with teams that work in the area. Attention to customer service is what has allowed MCS to grow and thrive over the last 15 years. In addition, we are looking forward to serving the Chicagoland area even better.

We welcome all of our customers to come by the new space. We are proud of our new office and invite anyone to stop by for a coffee and a tour. Just let us know and we will welcome you for a visit.

Our Chicago Address:

MCS
550 West Washington Blvd. Suite 201
Chicago, IL 60661

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Nagios Free

3 Options for Using Nagios Free of Charge

When you hear Nagios, most people think of their award-winning monitoring software and that is the subject of this article. Nagios is open source software, but there are more options to use Nagios free of charge.

1. Nagios Core – Open Source

Nagios Core, available at nagios.org, is freely available to download, use, and modify. It’s called Core because it uses the same engine that is under the hood of their commercial product, Nagios XI, available at nagios.com. More on that later though. The open source version offers 100’s of free add-ons and the ability to monitor just about anything with an IP address. The core edition has no limitation on the number of monitored devices. Core has been used from everything form monitoring a garden all the way up to looking after the High-End Computing Capability over at NASA. Core’s open nature allows for lots of tinkering and complete control to modify it to suit your needs.

With a ton of control and openness there is also a learning curve. Managing Nagios Core can be difficult for lots of monitored nodes. We used the Core edition in our data center before switching to XI. Managing monitored hosts also meant manually editing 100’s of config files. Many Linux sysadmins may love this approach but we found it too cumbersome. Also, installing Core will mean compiling from source code and will take some time to setup.

Download Nagios Core

2. Nagios XI – Use the Commercial Version of Nagios Free

XI is the commercial version of the already great Core version. The main advantages to Nagios XI are Web Configuration and built in Performance Graphing. Also, you get SNMP Trap Support, easy Configuration Wizards, and a Database Backend. The UI is also just much more polished and integrated than the core. The main disadvantage to using Nagios XI free is that you are limited to 7 total nodes, or hosts. You can monitor more than you may think with 7 hosts though. A host is typically anything with an IP address. Under that, you can monitor unlimited services attached to that host. Theoretically, you could monitor 10,000 individual service checks under one host.

The good news is that the free version can even be used for commercial purposes. Let’s say you have a data center and use Nagios Core to monitor your infrastructure. If the data center goes dark, so does your core server and you wouldn’t be notified. Spend an hour and about $10 a month and you can spin up Nagios XI for free in Amazon AWS. It’s super easy and a cheap insurance policy for when everything else fails. For small projects, this is the best way to run Nagios free.

Download Nagios XI

3. Run a Free Trial

Nagios is very generous with their free trials. They offer 60 days free for most of their products. If you are serious about using their software and may move to their paid version there is a strong possibility that a rep here at MCS can get your trial extended. Contact us to let us know what your specific situation is. Nagios XI runs as a trial by default so use the download link above for this option too. If you have less than 7 hosts it takes about 10 seconds to convert a trial to the free edition that won’t expire.

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VEEAM Silver Cloud Service Provider

Veeam Silver Partner – Cloud & Service Provider

MCS is now a Silver level Veeam Cloud & Service Provider (CSP). We have been a Veeam partner for several years. In addition, we use their software and recommend it consistently to our customers. The Cloud & Service Provider program is designed for cloud providers like MCS. We offer Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) powered by the incredible features VEEAM can offer.

Backups vs Replication

Everyone knows backups are essential for any organization. Having data backups is great but using that data in a disaster is better. Also, replication is the key to a fast recovery when the worst happens. A VM that has been replicated is ready to go at a moment’s notice. In addition, a replicated server is easier to fail-back when the main site is back online. Getting up and running fast is the most important part of any DR plan.

Why Use Veeam and MCS?

Veeam is an outstanding company and their products keep getting better. Over the years, features and reliability keep improving. In addition, their support is the best in the industry. Using features like WAN Acceleration, Deduplication, and Virtual Labs, MCS can be sure data is ready when needed. We replicate data over long distances for even large servers. Plus, our data center stores your data securely and safely.  Using Veeam we can go way beyond just backups. Replicated servers can be ready to go in our data center within minutes. Space is available in our business continuation center. Using this space during a disaster can be the difference between success and failure.

As a cloud partner, MCS takes care of managing and setting up your DR plan. Disaster Recovery specialists actively monitor and manage the replication process. This means there are less errors, and better data integrity. Your data is critical for your success. Partner with MCS and let a professional take care of your precious data.

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