6 reasons to call Nobius 4/6
In this 4th blog on 6 reasons to call Nobius, I’ll describe why Nobius is unique and how that provides value to you with Zabbix.
Nobius knows it’s simply the most powerful license-free software you can adopt.
The last blogs introduced Nobius, our relationship with Zabbix, explained the value of the key new major features of this version, and showed you cloud aspects both for hosted Zabbix and cloud monitoring using Zabbix.
Read them here Nobius blogs
The blog image I’ve used shows you all of the 6 reasons to call Nobius.
But you don’t HAVE to wait until all 6 have been posted to call us, we’re always ready to discuss your issues, requirements, timing, budget, and objectives. Any time.
Firstly, Nobius is unique because we’re the 1st Zabbix Certified Partner in the UK
I discussed this in further detail in blog #1 that you can read here
The 2nd aspect concerns our work to remove risk from deployments.
To do that we developed reference architectures.
These are developed and tested configurations for deployment of Zabbix.
Nobius reference architectures remove the complexity and effort behind building the underlying architecture for Zabbix.
Zabbix is a highly flexible solution even when it comes to deciding how to set it up.
It will run as an appliance (not recommended for production) on a single server with the front end, Zabbix server and database all on the same virtual machine or physical host.
You can also setup a highly available solution with multiple load-balanced front end servers, clustered Zabbix servers and highly available database configuration. This is made even easier now with Zabbix version 6. You can read why that is in blog 2/6 here
What about data encryption? TLS? Cloud vs on-premise differences? Which is the most appropriate for you?
Well Nobius have done the hard work already – we’ll save you time and effort in building your environment.
Especially useful in cloud deployments, they definately reduce the risks and shorten deployment times.
Our customers have been surprised to see how quickly we have them running and this largely due to our investment to create these proven architectures. We’ve developed them for several cloud providers, AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP infrastructures.
Cameras and Surveillance
The 3rd aspect concerns our work to extend Zabbix, firstly to cover non-IT Domains.
Practically all organisations have CCTV cameras. Even small shops have them. Do you?
I learned a LOT about them during a major project with a customer last year.
- They are really quite intelligent peripherals.
- As devices to control business issues, their importance is growing.
- Vendors products differ widely.
- You can rarely depend on standard methods to manage them remotely, each vendor has their own software for this.
- The ecosystem around them is changing fast
Is your business is based on services around cameras?
Whatever your link to them, they are really useful, becoming cheaper yet more powerful all the time.
Nobius can help you monitor them all.
Cameras surveillance systems
Cameras are usually connected either directly to a network. Initially encoders and recorders were needed, vendor specific device managers combined these into one unit called DVR/NVR to centralise at least camera video streams. These devices are vendor specific. They are used to visualize streams from multiple sources, centralise the camera configurations, update their firmware etc.
Cameras and SNMP
Vendors will invariably indicate that their devices support SNMP.
They don’t all support later SNMP versions 2 and 3 needed because v1 is does not provide security.
Remember that in the USA at least these network connected devices are regarded as points of entry on local area and sometimes corporate networks. So security is a key concern, but can be managed.
It’s easy to be fooled by what they mean when they say they do support SNMP because frequently they just allow monitoring of the health of that device, camera or DVR/NVR.
They are equipped with an SNMP agent that must be activated and configured (community name, trap destination). That means you’ll have to connect and configure all devices, not always an easy task. Once you’re connected you be able to see what the SNMP agent provides, there’s more work is ahead.
For all the vendor devices we worked on, the agents provided responses to an snmpwalk command, some after a lot of research. A typical response might be as shown here. As you can see, this data provided is quite generic and of limited use.
SNMP agents will respond with object ID ( OIDs ) that differ across model types and firmware versions.
The vendor specific enterprise SNMP MIBS can often be impossible to locate.
Those we did find, were often 10-15 years old, and had clearly been superseded given the information flowing from the agent in the device.
Still an old SNMP MIB is better than none you might say. Well not so fast.
As we found the agent often does NOT respond to OIDs modelled in the SNMP MIB file.
It is clear the vendor wants you to use his proprietary management system, the DVR/NVR i.e. remote monitoring is NOT their priority.
The more different vendor’s devices you use, the more that can become complicated.
You’d also be right in thinking the MIBS for those are not freely available or out of date.
Checkmate. In this case SNMP becomes close to useless.
Other integration methods
Deeper research can unearth other integration methods that some vendors have developed.
They typically require use of RCP commands, HTTP and API mechanisms which is fine.
However, documentation for those is gold. If you are not an authorised vendor approved partner, integrator, developer or in other words have paid a fee, then there’s little made available to you, and in many cases even to end user customers!!
It takes a great deal of patience, research, proof of concepts before you get anywhere.
Breakthroughs lead to interesting results. In one case a device provided over 400 OIDs, way more than needed in most cases.
That data proved to be rich with status, configuration and inventory data being provided.
Status is great for detecting incidents of course. Events sometimes sent as traps can be useful for raising alerts when devices tampering is happening, or when someone throws a coat over the device.
Inventory is invaluable for several aspects. Checking camera firmware, model types and serial number is possible once you reach this point.
Configuration data such as camera date/time, is useful because if it’s wrong, then finding specific images at a timestamp won’t work well. Most people need that capability when issues occur such as burglaries, fires and other incidents.
In some cases Zabbix can take action to reset the time or reprogram how its synchronises time, removing the issue.
We finalised integrations with varying success with devices from these vendors using Zabbix.
HikVision and Dahua are sensitive vendors these days and are disallowed on several European markets being banned Chinese vendors.
The others are all popular, but there are many other vendors on the market now.
So much so, that VMS systems have become more and more popular as they support multivendor devices, so no need for multiple types of DVR/NVRs which they can replace.
They come with drivers to communicate with and administer in some cases hundreds of diverse camera vendors.
Milestone sticks out as one supplier of VMS systems that do this well. It is software that runs on Windows, but is highly modular, which means you’ll need a fairly decent configuration to run it.
We interfaced to Milestone to extract reports of many different incidents, camera up/down, as well as local information about each camera. However it is very expensive software.
This is an interesting domain as more complex and interesting devices are arriving, and the industry is fast changing. VMS as SaaS, or VSaaS, is emerging too, that uses cloud-based VMS services to manage site-based cameras. Interested? Nobius can assist you if this is an important part of your environment.
For a while now there’s been a lot of buzz around IoT, the internet of things.
It’s all about connected devices.
When something is connected to the internet we can monitor it, However we only should when it provides useful context.
Nobius has experience integrating with sensors and systems that exploit them, and its becoming more diverse all the time.
For example did you know that units such as HVAC (heating and ventilation), pumps, fans, valves, door access, alarms frequently have IoT sensors.
There are complete Building Management Systems (BMS) that can manage all of those and more.
Zabbix centralises Monitoring
What we’ve found is that monitoring those systems, sometimes right down to the sensor is easily within the capabilities of a Zabbix based monitoring system.
You’d do that because again anything that could impact business and users is likely to hurt one day if you don’t. BMS may well be connected to a subcontractor site surveillance specialist, and maybe that’s good enough. But when there are multiple sites such as in schools, colleges, hospitals, airports, motorways, camp sites, centralising such information can be vital.
In one case we were involved in Wind Farm and Energy management. SCADA controllers are typically used to capture all the monitoring data from the turbines and solar systems, and that’s fine too.
Zabbix with IoT
Zabbix natively supports with MQTT and MODBUS. Centralising monitoring means you can easily provide specialists, technicians, subcontractors with the right information before they’re dispatched or even when they are onsite using mobile access to Zabbix. That can be a game changer, saving time and money.
It may also make the difference in proactively keeping business up to scratch.
It can make the difference to make customers happy, rather than just banking on their business
Nobius extends Zabbix based monitoring beyond IT devices, and our IoT architectures make those extensions easier.
See our IoT Flyer for more details .
ITSM with SolvIT
We’re also ITIL certified so we know a great deal about IT processes and the services needed to keep the business running and satisfied. The next aspect concerns help desk integration. The objective is monitoring feeds IT processes and only the right tickets are opended.
Yet we know that help desk software can quickly increase the IT bill. It led us to create SolvIT.
It’s a new solution that integrates license-free Zabbix based monitoring with low-cost help desk software InvictaDesk from Invicta Software.
It’s a perfect lightweight solution for IT operations teams, and doesn’t carry all the heavyweight features those larger systems often do.
It manages incidents, creating tickets and offers bi-directional ticket handling so only the right tickets are dealt with. If an IT operator or an automated task solves an issue, then the ticket is automatically closed.
If a service agent or subcontractor schedules changes to fix the issue and closes the ticket, the event is closed in Zabbix.
It’s a simple but very effective way of ensuring no issues go unheeded, alerting your subcontractors with fresh tickets loaded with monitoring data, and keeping tabs on where issues have occurred over time for better planning.
Ask us about SolvIT and see our flyer.
How Nobius can help
If you’re already using older versions, that another one of the 6 reasons to call Nobius.
Contact us to help you migrate, and see our Punch Pubs & Co case study – Nobius v2-1 to read how we migrated that customer to Zabbix
If you’re not then it doesn’t take much to start using this most powerful, license-free software.
It’s enterprise grade software meaning its stable, reliable, has scalability, high performance with distributed monitoring, and its secure.
It’s also integrated with practically all popular software you may use for ITSM, collaboration, containers, automation, help desk and so much more. See them here https://pos.li/2kn251
These are but a few innovations we’ve worked to develop. We’re always exploring ideas, and customers’ own issues inspire us to carry on doing that.
Yes Zabbix 6 is an amazing software package, incredible license free value, and now Nobius provides you with amazing hosted services that get you up and running fast and will suit your budget
Explore what’s new in Zabbix 6.0 LTS
Reach out to info@Nobius.co.uk