Finding the best server management software tools for your organization can have a major impact on the success of your business operations. Manually handling all tasks associated with server management and critical applications is time-consuming and costly. However, these tasks must be completed to ensure the health of your network.
This becomes even more complex and tedious when you expand your infrastructure by adding multiple servers to your network. Server management software was designed to streamline the monitoring and management of network health. These products will improve uptime, efficiency and the security of your servers.
How to Choose Server Management Software
- Does it visualize data? The most effective way to analyze data is through a visual representation presented through a graphical user interface (GUI). Having a centralized view of what’s happening in your network across all of your servers makes it easy to understand the health of your network.
- Does it do more than just monitor? There are plenty of server monitoring tools on the market that will regularly check the status of your servers and display that data in some sort of graphical representation. But that’s not enough. A sufficient server management software product will also provide process automation to take some of the tasks off the hands of system administrators. Not only does that include lightweight tasks, but also more critical tasks that must be carried out immediately. The software will ultimately be able to recognize these instances and carry them out quicker than a human.
- Does it generate reports? Analytics are foundational to virtually all modern business processes. A server management tool with built-in analytics capabilities and reporting will provide high visibility into the inner workings of your network. This information will allow you to highlight irregularities or inefficiencies so you can quickly identify the root cause and take action to resolve the issue.
Server Management Software Comparison
Here is a quick-view comparison of the server management software that made our list. For more detailed information on each solution, simply click on the product name in the table.
|LogicMonitor||Datadog||ManageEngine OpManager||Paessler PRTG Network Monitor||Progress WhatsUp Gold||NetCrunch|
|Requires web connectivity||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Available via browser||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No – view only|
Best Server Management Software Solutions
Here is our in-depth look at the best server management software solutions for 2021.
LogicMonitor is a popular hybrid software-as-a-service (SaaS) network monitoring and management platform. It’s tailored specifically to best suit organizations that host the majority of their infrastructure in the cloud but still utilize a hybrid cloud architecture. The interface is hosted and accessed through the cloud but its information collector is deployed directly in the network. LogicMonitor supports both Windows and Linux systems.
Installation is relatively simple as it is an agentless system. After executing a command-line string using either a Bash command or Linux command, the software automatically handles the installation front here. After it’s installed, you can automatically scan your network to recognize all connected devices but also have the option to manually add them individually.
Users often praise its easy-to-use dashboard that comes with a number of pre-built templates that can be further customized to serve your needs. The centralized view can be represented in a hierarchical structure or graphical topology maps. The latter makes for an easy way to identify the root cause of issues.
Alerting is also an important factor for LogicMonitor. Custom alerts can be created and sent out via email and SMS
If virtualization is a big factor in your network, LogicMonitor supports both VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V.
One element that may be a pitfall for some organizations, is that LogicMonitor must have a web connection to operate. This means you could lose availability in the event of an internet outage.
LogicMonitor is quote-only pricing so you’ll have to contact the company for a customized pricing package that fits your business requirements.
Datadog offers a simplified SaaS server management product that is primarily designed to monitor service applications hosted in the cloud. However, it also has the ability to monitor applications hosted on-premise as well. It offers more than 350 integrations with APIs and services and supports a number of network protocols, including TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and SSH (Secure Shell).
The out-of-the-box interface gives a simple and clean view of data, but customizing it to fit your specific needs takes plenty of leg work. But thankfully Datadog includes in-depth Quick Start Guides and helpful pulldowns that walk you through the process step by step.
Datadog takes a different approach to reporting than many other server management software tools. Rather than generating a full report of your entire network, it focuses on making it easy to search for specific metrics by filtering logs based on the time frame, the source of events, priority and type of event.
The vendor offers varying pricing options that make it an attractive option. Starting at $5 per month for their Network Performance tier, best for small to midsized businesses, up to $31 per month for their APM tier designed for enterprise organizations.
Installation for Datadog is nowhere near as simple as LogicMonitor. The initial installation is relatively straightforward as it is a cloud-hosted tool. However, you will then be required to install multiple agents on each host system in your network. If you’re using ESXi or NetFlow, you will be required to take a console-based approach using a terminal.
Because it’s an agent-based system, adding devices can also be time-consuming. It does not offer an automatic device discovery feature, so you will need to download an agent specific to each device or service and use an API key.
If the price is a major concern for your organization and you can get by on a more lightweight suite of features, ManageEngine OpManager is a great option. The standard edition starts at just $245 for a license. However, that price will go up depending on how many devices live on your network.
Part of what makes it more affordable is that it is installed locally rather than as a SaaS package like the previous tools on this list. But even so, the installation is straightforward. You will first have to decide which database to use for storage and selecting a path. The default path is Postgres but for an additional cost, SQL Server is also available. OpManager can then be accessed from a web browser. But because it is hosted locally, you will need to use a VPN to access it remotely.
The web browser interface can seem intimidating at first with at least 9 tabs showing out-of-the-box. But overall it has a simplistic design that can be customized with a drag-and-drop feature.
Organizations that rely heavily on virtualization would make good use of ManageEngine OpManager. It supports heavy hitters, such as VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, and enables and disables monitoring of each individual VM with a single click.
Configuring alerts manually on OpManager can be a bit complex, but fortunately, it comes with a number of pre-configured alerts that can be broken down into several types, including web alarms, trap alarms and standard event and syslog alarms.
One downfall for OpManager is that it doesn’t come with a default reporting feature. This can only be installed as an add-on called the ManageEngine Applications Manager Plug-In. But the add-on is worth the trouble, as it offers reports on trend analysis as well as capacity planning for servers.
Unfortunately, reports are not the only feature that requires an add-on for OpManager. Important features such as patch management and even traffic analysis also require their own plug-ins. So depending on your specific needs, this could increase the price.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor has long been a popular server management software solution. Its age has made it a feature-rich platform with extended device support, but this also means it is installed on-premise and is not offered as a cloud-based system. While it is primarily designed for experienced and knowledgeable system administrators and IT teams, it still remains a user-friendly tool.
It also has a unique, and expensive, perpetual licensing model that is based on the number of sensors in your network. It starts at $1,750 for 500 sensors. For enterprise organizations that require a license that includes an unlimited number of sensors, the price tag is a whopping $15,500. There is also an additional cost for support, so this is clearly an option tailored for the enterprise.
Installation is a heavy undertaking that requires a Microsoft Windows Server machine with at least two CPU cores and 3 GB of RAM, as well as 250 GB of storage space. While it can be installed on a virtual machine, to get the best monitoring results, it’s recommended you install it on physical hardware. And considering the price, you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck here. Enterprise organizations with multiple locations will need to further install PRTG Remote Probes, each requiring one dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM.
Even though Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is hosted locally, the interface is web-based, feature-rich and user-friendly. Its network maps shine amongst the competition, which provides a detailed, yet high-level overview of your network’s performance.
As far as agentless server management options go, PRTG Network Monitor makes it surprisingly simple to discover and add devices. It offers an auto-discover feature to populate all of the devices on your network or you can manually add single devices, which only requires you to supply an IP address and the type of device.
Progress WhatsUp Gold
Progress WhatsUp Gold is another popular option that’s been on the market for some time. Its per-device licensing plan is straightforward at first, which starts at $2,740 for 25 devices. But from there, pricing can be more complex depending on your business needs. So if you’ll need more than 25 devices, you will need to contact Progress for a custom quote.
WhatsUp Gold is limited solely to Windows-based systems and can only be installed locally. But installation is a breeze, only requiring you to select installation paths and providing access to your network.
Its ease of use doesn’t stop at installation. Users love the attractive and user-friendly interface. Simplified down to just three tabs, most critical IT tasks can be carried out just through your browser.
- Discover: The discover tab, as its name suggests is used to automatically discover the devices connected to your network.
- Network: The network tab allows you to manage and monitor these devices.
- Analyze: The analyze tab is where you will view and pull reports of your network’s performance.
Configuring alerts with WhatsUp Gold is as easy as assigning policies based on three statuses – down, maintenance or up. However, if you’re looking for highly-customizable alerts, then this is not the best option for you. It also doesn’t provide support for customized reports, but they provide in-depth analysis of the most relevant data and can be exported as Microsoft Excel or Adobe Acrobat files.
WhatsUp Gold is very extensible with a large suite of plug-ins available to add on. But unfortunately, you will have to pay for most of the plug-ins.
NetCrunch is a high-performance server management software solution that aims to streamline day-to-day management tasks. Yearly licensing starts at $1,450 solely for SNMP-based devices. For the full suite of features, the yearly price rises to $7,460.
Similar to PRTG Network Monitor, Netcrunch has specific installation requirements. You will need a Windows 10 system with two CPU cores and 3 GB of RAM, along with 5 GB of storage. But because it’s a native Windows application, the installation process is quick and easy. Following installation, NetCrunch will automatically begin a scan for available networks and then for connected devices. Then you’re ready to go.
The NetCrunch interface is a key differentiator. It’s simple-to-use yet robust enough to support all of the functionality required for enterprise-level server management. However, it is one of the few popular server management tools out there that doesn’t offer access to the interface via a web browser beyond view-only capabilities. It can’t only be utilized full on-premises. This also means you will need a VPN to accomplish anything remotely.
The reporting is flexible, as you have the option to customize your own reports or view pre-built configurations. They can also be scheduled to ensure you have regular reports of network activity and don’t have to worry about pulling reports yourself.