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Android Quick App: Server Density

Server Density, from Boxed Ice, is just the app all you server administrators out there have been waiting for to take your monitoring out on the road. Sure, you could wait for the boss to call you in the middle of the night because he can't get an e-mail that he absolutely must have at 3:00 AM, but it's so much more impressive to be awake when that call comes in and to tell him that you're already on it. Server Density is a client-server software set designed to take the guess work out of server monitoring.

Let's dive into it more after the break.

After installing an app on each of the servers you want to monitor, another server polls the servers for useful data such as low disk space, connectivity issues, or critical processes that are not running. You are able to customize the alerts per server, and the app will report to your monitoring server when any of the alerts are tripped. You may purchase a license and run your own monitoring server, or you may choose to have Boxed Ice host your monitoring server for you and pay a monthly fee instead. That's not what I'm here to talk about, though. Let's take a look at the app for Android. 

When you first start the app, you are given boxes for username, password, and the URL. The URL is where you will specify your monitoring server for the app to connect to. Once you log in, you are presented with a list of the servers you have set up. Tap one, and you are given some basic system information, such as free and available memory and disk space, network statistics, and how hard the CPU is working.

On the alerts tab, you are able to view the alerts that you have configured. Alerts can be stopped or started here, so once you have acknowledged a particular alert, you can pause the monitoring so your phone stops blowing up in your pocket (or on the restaurant table in front of you). The app can also be configured to receive push alerts from the monitoring server, which is a necessary feature for any critical server monitoring software.

This is something I wish I had at my disposal at previous jobs. It definitely takes the guesswork out of server monitoring, and when combined with the powerful alerts in Android you won't have to worry when you're away from a computer.

  • free app for a pay service. I'll stick to top for my server pulse.
  • Plus you are trusting your server(s) to a third party. Hmm... When I want to know what my servers are doing, I just ssh directly into them.
  • You do have to install the monitoring agent (just like with any internal monitoring service) but it is written in Python, does not require root (it runs as its own user or as any user you choose) and the source code is provided under the FreeBSD OSS license - SSHing is fine once you know there's a problem, but how do you know what the issue is? And if you have lots of servers, it makes it a bit more difficult.
  • Server Density is a paid service, although there is a free trial and a free version if you don't want to pay, although the free version does not include the mobile apps. Top is fine for real time info when you're logged in but you can't monitor top 24/7 ;)
  • Wish somebody would write an app like this that ties into SCOM... With budgets being what they are right now, no way we are going to get the cost per/server to add what is essentially a convenience.....
  • It's a convenience until the alerting and statistics save you from a major outage. Unless you're running on ridiculously cheap VPSs then we've found the cost to be very reasonable.
  • crxssi says: "Plus you are trusting your server(s) to a third party. Hmm..." Hmmm... Which part of "pay a license fee and run it on your own monitoring server" is trusting the servers to a 3rd party? It's certainly an interesting product and reminds me a lot of Nagios.
  • johnsquibb says: "I'll stick to top for my server pulse." Seriously? How does top help you if your httpd stops servicing requests? httpd is still dutifully in top as the process is still in the process table but there's no traffic flowing on port 80. That is just scratching the surface. Hopefully that was just a flippant comment.
  • Neat idea. But realistically, any new hardware at this level comes with hardware level monitoring suites. Dell has it, HP, IBM, etc. They all come free and grab SMTP traps six ways til sunday. So why pay for something that you already bought when you purchased the hardware?
  • i think you meant to say snmp, not smtp. you're welcome!