Prometheus vs. Zabbix


Free open-source software makes an excellent answer when the budget is limited or if you simply don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Thus, Zabbix and Prometheus can be very attractive choices if you are currently looking for the best open-source network monitoring software on the market. However, even though both Zabbix and Prometheus are free and open-source, these two products have very, very different characteristics. So, before you make your choice, make sure that you understand the differences of Zabbix vs Prometheus by continue reading below!

Installation and Setting Up

First of all, let us see the comparisons between Zabbix vs Prometheus in terms of installation requirements. Generally speaking, you can say that Zabbix is a ‘basic’ monitoring solution for people who need a full-fledged monitoring application that covers a lot of features right out of the box. It is easy, simple, and quick to set up. However, an application that is ready out of the box like Zabbix typically lacks customizability. Hence, it may not cover everything if you have some custom or special requirements.

Unlike SolarWinds that we discussed in Zabbix vs SolarWinds, Prometheus is a free, open-source option. Prometheus is a very flexible platform that collects metrics for custom-built monitoring. It is not exactly ready out of the box because it will require you to install some other tools such as the separate Alert Manager. The configuration requires manual editing of files. However, such design enables more extensive and comprehensive customization that can cover custom/special requirements.

By the way, Zabbix’s core is written in C, whereas the web GUI is written in PHP. Hence, Zabbix often has a smaller footprint. It stores data in a relational database.

Prometheus is written in the Go language. It has its own non-relational database which is embedded into the back-end. Since the database is specially designed for storing monitoring data, its performance is often faster.

Features and Performance

One of the best features of Zabbix is the powerful web GUI. It provides nice visualization, and it is quite powerful. You can use Zabbix to monitor web-based services as well as servers and other types of hardware. In addition, Zabbix also provides several monitoring options. SNMP is optional. You can use dedicated agents instead to collect data from the hosts.

However, Zabbix lacks real-time reporting as well as advanced report templates. Regarding the performance, it is strong and efficient on small and medium-sized networks. It is suitable for up to 10,000 nodes, but you may start to notice little performance degradation at 1,000 nodes.

Prometheus has a basic tool for exploring and visualizing data in simple graphs, and it has a minimal dashboard builder. However, you can pair it with a modern visualization tool like Grafana to enhance the power. As explained above, Prometheus excels in customization. For example, it supports both “pull” and “push” models for checking.

Prometheus’s performance is generally faster and more stable, even when handling a large network. It is often recommended for cloud, SaaS, and OpenStack monitoring.

If you need a simple ‘traditional’ monitoring solution for monitoring hardware and services, Zabbix is the way to go. It is ready out of the box, and the performance is reliable for up to 10,000 nodes. However, if you have some custom/special requirements and you need a lot of customization, Prometheus is the way to go. Prometheus is more recommended for monitoring a very large network, cloud, SaaS, and OpenStack

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