Agent vs Agentless Monitoring Demystified

agent-based monitoring
3 min

Want to know what your IT assets are doing when you’re not looking? It should be no surprise that implementing a sound network monitoring strategy is essential. The real question is, Agent vs Agentless Monitoring, which is better for your business?

What are monitoring agents, and why are they often a superior solution to your network observability problems? Keep reading for the breakdown.

Agent vs Agentless Monitoring:

What is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring tools let system administrators and IT professionals track how well computer systems and networks work. By revealing various aspects of system performance, they can identify issues early on and prevent them from becoming bigger problems.

For example, imagine you noticed that your database was consistently slow during peak hours. You might want to investigate whether there was an issue with your query optimization or indexing strategy, or even how you connected your devices. Learn more about what is network monitoring.

Agent vs Agentless Monitoring – Driving Crucial Insights

Network monitor can also provide valuable insights into system usage and performance trends. For instance, if you were running a public-facing retail app, it could be handy to know the average load time of a landing page. Similarly, a company that depended on a private business portal might find it useful to know the average number of queries a mission-critical database received per second.

Agent vs Agentless Monitoring – The Broader Perspective

Monitoring tools are most impactful when used alongside other tools, such as logging and profiling apps. By themselves, monitors can provide valuable insights into system usage and performance; however, they’re only sometimes able to pinpoint the root cause of a problem. When combined with comprehensive dashboards and wrapper applications, these tools can paint a complete picture of what’s going on under the hood of your applications and IT systems.

Agent vs Agentless Monitoring Demystified

The key difference between agent-based and agentless monitoring is that with agent-based monitoring, you install an agent program onto each server you want to monitor. No such installation is required with agentless monitoring, but it isn’t suitable for every use case. 

Why Agent Monitoring Beats the Agentless Option

There are several reasons why agent-based monitoring may prove superior to agentless monitoring. Here are just five: 

1. It’s more comprehensive

Users install agents directly onto servers, they can collect more data than agentless solutions can accommodate. This includes data about process performance, memory usage, disk activity, and more. 

You can also configure agents to collect specific data that might be important for your organization. Agentless monitoring tools generally limit you to the data you can collect remotely using standard networking protocols, like SNMP or HTTP.

2. It’s less resource intensive

One common complaint about agentless monitoring solutions is that they can burden servers heavily because they need to communicate constantly with the central management console. This overhead can negatively impact performance, particularly if you monitor several servers simultaneously. 

Agent-based monitoring, on the other hand, makes this a non-issue. Since all data collection takes place locally on each server before being transmitted back to the management console, there’s no constant communication overhead. Effective agents may also improve your odds of minimizing network latency by using batching or bulk aggregation strategies for enhanced efficiency.

3. It provides better security

Since agents run locally on each server, they aren’t as susceptible to outside attacks as agentless solutions, which typically rely heavily on remote access protocols like SSH. Additionally, most reputable vendors offer some form of encryption for data transmissions between agents and management consoles, further enhancing security. 

4. It offers greater flexibility

In some cases, the devices you want to monitor, such as routers, switches, and the like, might not support the protocols used by your preferred agentless monitoring framework. In these situations, installing an agent is the best workaround because it lets you maintain observability without much overhead – or needing to switch your entire monitoring strategy just to accommodate a specific hardware maker or device!

5. It usually costs less

Because agents are installed locally on each monitored device, you don’t need to buy and deploy separate physical appliances just for monitoring. This saves money upfront and helps your budget in the long run. Maintaining simpler network architectures is generally easier and more cost-effective, so why settle for monitoring strategies that saddle you unneeded complexity?

Get Started With Agent Monitoring the Smart Way 

Your monitoring practices do more than just reveal crucial insights into what your network is up to. They also impact the quality of your metrics, determining whether you can reliably depend on the feedback you collect. Picking the right oversight solution for your situation is just as important as investing in monitoring in the first place.

Want an easy way to get started with agent-powered monitoring? Look no further than Domotz. Our award-winning remote network management software makes it simple and affordable to monitor setups of any size – and get the job done cost-effectively – so get your free trial today.

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