Is the hype around data monitoring solutions justified?

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Data monitoring across a chain of computers

The tech world is no stranger to new trends, concepts, and shifting tides. Among the many major overhauls in tech over the past years, it is hard to ignore what’s happening in the data monitoring space. Today, as companies make use of infinite data, data monitoring has become more important than ever before. Ever since organizations have become cognizant of the need for data monitoring, a plethora of opportunities have opened up in this field. 

That being said, there is an ongoing debate about whether open-source monitoring is more workable than paid data monitoring. While larger companies do not think twice before investing in paid data monitoring solutions, smaller companies tread cautiously on this front. 

Today, the information technology (IT) sector has opened its doors for open source or community-based software development professionals. There is an influx of open source developers as the need for transparency and accountability in data monitoring is at its peak. 

Whether the open source community or established companies are driving innovation is a topic for another day. Today, we are more concerned about how the data monitoring sector is staying afloat with the burgeoning amount of data across enterprises.

Scalability is a top priority in the monitoring sphere. But what level of scalability are we talking about here? Is it possible for service providers to cope?

If you are looking for answers to these questions, this blog is written just for you. Without further ado, let’s begin. 

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What is open source monitoring?

A long string of Software code

As the name suggests, open source monitoring essentially means keeping a stern watch over the data shared on a particular server and tracking data logs to ensure a high level of security

The various tools used to perform these activities are known as open source monitoring solutions.

Is infinite scalability workable for existing open-source data monitoring solutions?

At present, calls for an ‘infinitely scalable’ open source monitoring solution are becoming louder. There are several doubts over whether the current set of monitoring solutions can cope with the “web scale universe” we are currently working on in the cloud computing space. 

Many analysts and commentators in this field have stated that the shortcomings in the current solutions have paved the way for many new players to enter the market. The new breed is focused on two points; one, scalability, and two, sustainability. 

Many startups in the U.S. are trying to break into the open-source monitoring sector. Let’s look at one such startup. 

VictoriaMetrics, a startup based out of San Francisco offers a bunch of solutions with scalability as the core theme of all their offerings. Ukrainian entrepreneurs found the startup in 2018 who have previously offered their trade at Lyft, Cloudfare, and Google. The company announced that it has reached 50 million downloads in 2022. So, what is the catch here and why is VictoriaMetrics doing so well?

Roman Khavronenko, CEO of VictoriaMetrics said that the company primarily focuses on simplicity, performance, and reliability. This approach enables them to achieve high availability and scalability. He further said that the company uses very few moving parts and no extra [software code] dependencies to make their solution easy to use. One of the main reasons they created this solution was to get rid of the complexities in other solutions and make monitoring more accessible. 

Understanding software scaling

Software code running on desktop

There are a few ways businesses can scale their monitoring solutions. Let’s dive deeper to understand the intricacies of data monitoring. 

We’ll start with classic vertical scaling, often called ‘scaling’. Essentially, it refers to increasing resources on a single server to increase bandwidth and handle the additional load. We can achieve this by improving the RAM, or the storage capacity, or by a more powerful CPU. This is one of the most reliable and effective short-term solutions and several monitoring solutions will be adept at scaling across single nodes. 

That said, this is not a long-term solution and is not workable if you are looking for infinite scalability. This is where you will need ‘horizontal scaling’ or ‘sharding’. Sharding is a crucial technique to distribute a single dataset across different databases, which can be saved across multiple machines. 

This approach allows larger datasets to be sliced into smaller pieces and stored across different nodes, amplifying the storage capacity of the entire system and ensuring scalability. Since horizontal scaling enables limitless scalability to handle large volumes of data, the adoption of this open-source monitoring infrastructure will increase in the future. 

Multi-layer architecture is the best and most effective way to scale data monitoring. Let’s understand how sharding works. Sharing essentially distributes data across several smaller compute instances, which store a small part of the database. We call each component is known as a shard. When you have five shards, there are five compute instances, holding around 1/5th of the entire database. 

Software developers can improve the volume of information that each shard can manage because of multilayer architecture. This enables a company to provide each individual shard access to additional, smaller databases. As a result, you now have the original database plus five smaller databases instead of one large database split across five shards, sacrificing additional space or adding any shards.

Reasons to consider open-source monitoring solutions

We now have a basic idea of what open source monitoring is and how multi-layer architecture facilitates scalability. Now, let’s look at the benefits offered by an open-source monitoring solution. 

1. Features galore at low-costs

One of the most notable advantages of open-source monitoring solutions is their wide range of features. Besides, these solutions are less expensive than typical proprietary software solutions. Although proprietary solutions are reliable, they may not offer all the features you are looking for. Perhaps, even if a solution offered everything you required, the pricing was too steep and out of your budget. 

Open-source monitoring addresses both problems. It offers customized monitoring solutions that are safe, reliable, and budget-friendly. Besides, open-source offers access to every feature you need for as long as you want. Since the customized solution is developed only for you, you get to decide which feature you need and for how long you need it. 

2. Feel secure with open source

High security with open source applications

You may think, “A customized solution tailored for me and that too at a reasonable price? Something does not seem right here.” You may have doubts regarding the security aspects of these tools. The good news is that open-source solutions are safe and very dependable. 

According to Nahla from toolbox.com, bugs are typically discovered and fixed immediately, and most developers in the open-source community actively contribute to building safer applications.

You should be at ease with the solution you’re deploying and it’s potential for growth inside your company. Sometimes a feature you are using with your proprietary software works perfectly, and then your supplier informs you that to continue using the functionality, you must purchase a new “premium” subscription. 

As mentioned in the previous point, open source solutions provide access to every feature you need for as long as you need. 

3. Open-source is scalable and offers a long-term fix

The aim of almost all businesses if not all is to expand, grow, and move in the upward direction. The goal is to cater to more customers and clients. 

Most of the content in this article highlights how open-source monitoring solutions are equipped for a company’s growth. Such solutions are a perfect fit for smaller companies that interact with few clients and are just blooming. 

The additional benefit is that you will not have to fret about upgrading to a more advanced version of the proprietary software or switching to a product from a larger company to fulfill your new requirements as your company expands. 

With open source, you can continue to use your current tools while working with a skilled developer to add new features as you require them, including those that are not currently available anywhere else.

Popular open-source monitoring solutions

Here are a few popular open-source monitoring solutions you can choose from for your business. 

  • Prometheus
  • Zabbix
  • Riemann
  • Sensu
  • Nagios
  • Cacti
  • LibreNMS
  • Pandora FMS
  • Observium Community

Final thoughts

As companies continue to look for affordable, safe, and scalable solutions, open-source monitoring solutions have made a strong case for themselves. These solutions are not only budget-friendly but customizable as per the user’s requirements. 

The number of open-source developers continues to grow worldwide. As a community, these professionals are putting their best foot forward toward developing affordable data monitoring solutions for many companies. The demand for these applications will continue to soar in the upcoming years as companies continue to work with large volumes of data. 

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Feature Image Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image 1 Source: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Image 2 Source: Photo by Fotis Fotopoulos on Unsplash

Image 3 Source: Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash

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Karandeep is a technical content writer based out of Pune, a city in India that is also known as the Oxford of the East. His journey with writing started in 2014 when he decided to try his luck in a gaming startup as a Content Developer. Since then, he has written on a wide range of topics within the gaming and the tech space. Apart from his love for gaming, Karandeep is keeping tabs on the hottest trends in the tech industry. After completing his Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) from Symbiosis International University, Pune, he worked as an intern in an NGO that focused on urban development.
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