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Agent-based vs. agentless monitoring—which one is best today? The agent vs. agentless question is not exactly new. You may have decided years ago which to use and for what, but considering the speed at which your IT environment is changing, the question is worth revisiting. Here’s a refresher on the agent and agentless monitoring debate, discussing which would best work for you in 2022, and beyond. 

What is an agent in IT monitoring?

One classic approach to monitor the IT equipment, servers, most typically, is to install a small piece of software on the equipment to be monitored. This software is called an agent.

Agent and agentless monitoring: what’s the difference

Agent-based IT monitoring

An agent-based IT monitoring solution will require that you run some code on the system you want monitored, defining the data you want to collect.

It thus implies that you install an agent on all the equipment you want to monitor—for example, all servers. The agent collects the relevant metrics and sends them to the monitoring platform.

Agentless IT monitoring

Agentless monitoring is a means to monitor equipment without having to load a software on them to collect data. Agentless IT monitoring solutions will use either APIs or different protocols such as SNMP, VMI, HTTP, POP, FTP, to remotely access the infrastructure element and collect the desired data, thus no software agent needs to be installed. 

 

 

Agent or agentless, which approach is best?

For decades, the agent-based vs. agentless question was something to be carefully considered, each having their pros and cons. In the physical IT environment of the past, the balance would often tip towards agent-based monitoring. Today, agentless is often the way to go. In 2022 and beyond, diverse, distributed, and always scaling IT environments require the agentless method’s agility and lighter touch. For example, agent-based monitoring is simply not compatible with IaaS and PaaS offers, which are now commonplace. 

Another reason agent-based IT monitoring is losing ground today is that it’s not sustainable considering the explosion of IT assets that need monitoring—ITOps have better things to do with their time. And there are performance concerns too: systems running software agents can be slowed down. 

In a nutshell, agent-based IT monitoring is no longer adapted to the need for holistic IT monitoring across cloud and non-cloud assets.  

Centreon’s approach: agentless with the added flexibility to use agents if needed

In today’s complex IT environments, agentless is what you need to seamlessly collect data across a wide range of IT assets, cloud and non-cloud, using APIs, SNMP traps, etc. But the IT word and your needs being diverse, we also allow you to remotely execute scripts when you need alternative data collection methods. 

Deciding when to use agent vs. agentless

If you’re still considering both agent and agentless options, here’s a super simple rule of thumb to decide which may fit your needs: DevOps tend to use agent and ITOps, agentless. 

Devops

ITOps

DevOps collect data from an Application Performance Monitoring tool for the purpose of developing and maintaining applications.

These tools typically use a software agent to collect all the application metrics and traces to analyze them. 

For DevOps teams, having to install an agent is not a problem since they’re already deploying software, so agent-based for them remains easy and productive.

IT Operations teams seek to monitor 100% of the infrastructure. 

They are not only monitoring servers, but the networking and security infrastructure, the databases, the SANs, the cloud, the legacy all the way to the edge of the network. 

Thus, they want a universal solution that can remotely monitor any type of equipment without having to tinker with it beforehand. So, an agentless IT monitoring solution is the best choice for them.

 

Takeaway—Centreon is an agentless IT monitoring solution 

Centreon being dedicated to IT Operations Teams, its IT monitoring solution is agentless. Centreon connects to all sorts of APIs or uses all sorts of monitoring protocols, such as SNMP or WSMAN, to monitor today’s and tomorrow’s full diversity of equipment, whether in the cloud or not. The key here is to make monitoring as easy and efficient as possible.

On the same topic, watch or share this video: Agentless vs Agent-Based Monitoring

To go further

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  • Visit our resource center: ebooks, guides, reports, customer stories, tutorials, and more to help you in your IT monitoring journey 
  • Contact us for a personalized demo and ask our monitoring experts any questions you may have.