Tuesday Mar 03, 2009

Nagging Nagios Feelings

So I've been doing some configuration and testing with Nagios and have been having this nagging feeling that it is going to lead to some pretty major issues in the future. Monitoring is a "need-to-have" in the HPC world, and the leaders in this pack so far are Nagios and Ganglia. While we've been including Ganglia in the stack, we've never really aided in the configuration in lieu of taking care of other tasks. For the next release, it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and pause and see if Ganglia is the right choice, or if perhaps Nagios can provide some more options.

My biggest issue, right now, is a question of scalability of Nagios. This is primarily drawn out when you look at just how Nagios is configured. To define a cluster, you must create a host entry for each host within the cluster; while this is easy enough and scriptable it really draws out the question "are you thinking about 1000, or 10000, or even more nodes?" Yes, this is only the configuration file, but it also progresses into the monitoring solution itself. Nagios uses a polling method to check every service on every node. In the case of 10K nodes, how long will it take for the same node to be checked twice; or three times; how long will it take before we find out that it's down?

Perhaps I just don't understand the configuration options available to me (which is why I'm writing, hoping someone tells me I'm stupid). Perhaps there are other ways to approach this with Nagios (e.g., use scalable units that each only monitor a subset of nodes). Any thoughts out there?

(This has been cross-posted on our mailing list here.)

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