On the flip side, the list of supported devices and operating systems is necessarily limited. Where Cacti allows for a shocking amount of customization and specific data gathering and graphing functions that can support just about every possible network-connected device, Observium opts to hit the major devices and operating systems -- and does them well.
I ran into some bugs in Observium, and the fact that there's no stable release, just the Subversion nightly builds, seems a bit adventurous for a network monitoring package. Aside from that, it's worth a try, requiring little more than your normal LAMP stack and maybe an hour to get it set up and configured. Even if it can't take the place of a large Cacti or Ganglia implementation, it can provide plenty of benefit alongside other tools. For smaller shops, it may be all you really need. It's open source and easily installed -- what's the worst that happens, anyway?
The other point here is to not allow your network monitoring and trending packages stagnate. Changing, upgrading, and occasionally migrating these tools is a thankless task at best, yet it should be considered critical to the corporate IT welfare. Nobody really enjoys poring over Nagios configurations that have grown unwieldy over the years, but tightening up those systems, reducing clutter, and mothballing elderly information will only help in the long run.
Sometimes we need to take our medicine. If along the way you happen to look around and find a few new projects that can help with the ever-daunting task of network health maintenance, all the better.
This story, "Keeping up with your network requires consistent care and feeding," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.