Tag Archives: community

Zabbix Conference Latam: living real connections

Post Syndicated from Fernanda Moraes original https://blog.zabbix.com/zabbix-conference-latam-living-real-connections/27474/

It’s official! Registrations for Zabbix Conference Latam 2024 are now open.

Of all the events that our Zabbix team in Latin America organizes and participates in (over 50 in 2023 alone), we’re confident that this is the most impressive.

The 2024 conference is the third one organized directly by Zabbix since the beginning of our operations in Latin America. It has become a key reference point for topics related to data monitoring and Zabbix.

When our team participated in the last edition of Zabbix Summit, a global Zabbix event, I remember a partner asking me what was so special about an event like Zabbix Conference Latam. The answer is easy – the strength and vitality of the Latin American community!

A few days ago, I read an excerpt from a book by Brazilian sociologist Muniz Sodré, where he addressed the concept of “community.” Etymologically, the word “community” originates from the Latin “communitas,” composed of two radicals: “cum” (together with) and “munus” (obligation to the Other).

In essence, the sense of community is related to a collective dimension that allows us to be with and be together. There is a bond, something that makes us stay together. A point of similarity amidst differences, if you will.

Indeed, it’s not a very didactic concept, precisely because it needs to be lived – and felt. It is the strength of a community that produces possibilities and changes. And this is extremely present in open-source communities like the one we have at Zabbix.

The union of totally different people around a common point (Zabbix) is impressive – and captivating.

One of the greatest advantages of participating in a community like the one we’ve built at Zabbix is the fact that there is a direct relationship with collaborative culture. This makes users feel like protagonists and active subjects in the product’s development.

In communities like this, a collaborative strength exists among members, along with an open and genuine spirit of sharing and support. And that’s exactly what we experience at an event like Zabbix Conference Latam.

Every year, Zabbix warmly welcomes users, partners, clients, and enthusiasts. We receive fans who are excited to check out news about the tool, meet friends again, share knowledge, interact with experts, and even chat with Zabbix Founder and CEO Alexei Vladishev.

We hear amazing stories about how people came to know the tool, developed incredible projects, and transformed businesses – and how many other members also started their own businesses with Zabbix.

Zabbix Conference Latam is a space where there are real connections, dialogue, and (very) happy (re)encounters. In other words, it’s an experience that every member of the Zabbix Community should have.

Checking out news straight from the manufacturer

The event provides technical immersion through lectures, real-life case presentations, and technical workshops with the Zabbix team, official partners, clients, and experts in the field over both days of the event (June 7 and 8, 2024).

In other words, you can expect plenty of knowledge directly from the source – Alexei Vladishev, Founder and CEO of Zabbix! For those who use Zabbix or are interested in using it, you won’t want to miss the chance to participate, either through lectures or workshops.

Expanding networking

We plan to welcome over 250 participants, including technical leaders, analysts, infrastructure architects, engineers, and other professionals. It’s a great opportunity to meet colleagues in the field and make professional contacts.

Understanding a bit more about business

The open-source movement democratizes the use of technology, allowing companies of different sizes and segments to have freedom of use for powerful tools like Zabbix. At the Conference, we provide a space for discussion on open-source and business-related topics.

In 2024, we will feature the second edition of the Open Source and Business panel, where we will bring together leaders and companies to share views and perspectives on the relationship between the open-source theme and business development.

Get ready for lots of inspiration!

Talking to our official business partners and visiting sponsor booths at the event while enjoying a nice cup of coffee is a fascinating experience.

These interactions teach us a little more about their experiences and their relationship with Zabbix. From brand connections and integrations, simple implementations, or even extremely complex and creative projects, it’s possible to understand the real power of Zabbix and how it can positively impact different businesses.

A room full of opportunities

The speakers at Zabbix Conference Latam include our team of experts, official business partners, clients, and our community.

Among technical immersions and updated topics on functionalities, roadmaps, and all Zabbix news, community members can submit presentations and, if approved, participate in the event as speakers.

This allows them to share insights, discoveries, projects, and use cases in different industries, inspiring everyone with creative ways to solve real problems with Zabbix.

Living the Zabbix Conference Latam is a beautiful experience that allows us to understand the meaning and real strength of a community. Participating is also actively contributing to the growth and strengthening of the tool.

It truly is one of the best ways to evangelize Zabbix, and we look forward to gathering our community again in June 2024!

About Zabbix Conference Latam 2024

Zabbix Conference Latam 2024 is the largest Zabbix and monitoring event in Latin America. It takes place in São Paulo on June 7 and 8.

Interested parties can purchase tickets at the lowest price of the season, starting at R$999.00.

You can check out package information on the official event website.

The post Zabbix Conference Latam: living real connections appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

5 Common Network Monitoring Mistakes (And How Zabbix Can Help You Avoid Them)

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/5-common-network-monitoring-mistakes-and-how-zabbix-can-help-you-avoid-them/27394/

Being the world’s most trusted open-source monitoring solution means that businesses of every size and description turn to us for their network monitoring needs. This gives us an inside look at how easy it is for them to suffer disruptive network failures, which usually happen thanks to relatively simple miscalculations.

Network monitoring mistakes are easy to make but often challenging and time-consuming to fix, so we’ve put together a list of five of the most common mistakes that we see users make. We’ve also shown how Zabbix’s built-in features can help prevent them when combined with our experience and expertise.

Network monitoring mistake 1: Playing defense with security threats

As technology evolves, security threats grow and mutate much faster than before. A cybersecurity team that takes a purely reactive approach to the latest round of digital threats will constantly be playing catch-up, unable to challenge network vulnerabilities and putting their entire network at risk.

Zabbix is designed to help enterprises go beyond the traditional network monitoring strategy of reacting to performance and security problems as they occur. Zabbix can, for example, trace failed logins (which are often possible hacking attempts) as well as unexpected successful logins.

If an anomaly is discovered, Zabbix uses multiple messaging channels to notify the responsible individuals in your organization about the different kinds of events occurring in your environment This allows you to discover potential threats before they happen and react to them before they become a problem.

Network monitoring mistake 2: Getting left behind when technology evolves

Networking technologies continually evolve, so monitoring technologies need to evolve with them, offering even better visibility. By failing to make use of new monitoring technologies as they’re released, companies leave themselves wide open to network problems. Employees get comfortable with tools and solutions and are often reluctant to change or upgrade, but not doing so puts your network at risk.

At Zabbix, we offer our users a quality product and a variety of support options. Every six months we release a new stable version, and each new Zabbix software release is subject to a standard life cycle and expiry date. Our life cycle specifics also help make content for all new version releases more predictable and manageable.

If you’re already using Zabbix (and we hope that you are), taking advantage of our upgrade solution is the perfect way to make sure you don’t fall behind the curve when it comes to monitoring technology. We work side by side with your team and adapt to your environment so that your upgrade gets taken care of with no disruption and in line with our best practices.

Network monitoring mistake 3: Not having the right performance data and insights

Every enterprise or business will have different network performance requirements, which in turn will require examining different performance metrics and having different performance expectations and baselines. The key is being able to separate the signal (useful performance data and insights) from the noise (everything else) so that you can properly judge your network’s behavior and take appropriate action.

Zabbix’s web UI provides multiple ways of presenting a visual overview of your IT environment. Widget-based multi-page dashboards display information in an easy-to-digest format, so even laymen can see what’s happening with the network at a glance.

Flexible graphs can display regular and aggregate data, and all display options allow you to filter and display only the data you need, at any level of granularity you may require. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to prioritize useful insights over all others.

Network monitoring mistake 4: Ignoring network logs

Modern networking devices generate logs that contain vital information. Network management teams can use this information to provide higher security, improved efficiency, and less downtime. Not collecting and using these logs is ignoring free information that you could use to run your network better.

Zabbix makes log monitoring easy by allowing you to collect, filter, and analyze log entries. Monitoring firewall logs with Zabbix, for example, allows you to identify things like unusual traffic patterns, blocked connections, and denied access logs. With more advanced or “smart” firewalls, you can read logs and create intrusion alerts in Zabbix.

When it comes to Windows logs, you can track the success or failure of user logins and monitor IP addresses to see whether login attempts are coming from a trusted network or not. VPN connections (source IP, multiple failed connection attempts, etc.) are also a snap to monitor with Zabbix. It’s all part of our “single pane of glass” philosophy that allows SNMP traps, logs, and other sources to all be monitored with a single tool.

Network monitoring mistake 5: Failing to plan for network growth

Simply focusing on how your network is performing now doesn’t cut it – you also need to prepare yourself for what your network might become. Any planned changes to your network need to be considered when planning out your monitoring strategies. That means projecting what the state of your network will be and considering how additions to your network might affect performance.

Zabbix is designed to be scalable to any infrastructure – our customers use it to monitor anything from smart homes to multi-tenant global business environments. And when it’s time to expand your network, you can gain an extra layer of scalability by deploying Zabbix Proxies, which allow you to collect millions of metrics from hundreds of thousands of devices, services, and applications.

Conclusion

Monitoring a modern network is a challenging task, and Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time) is never far from the mind of any network management professional. However, in our experience, network management teams can avoid the most common network monitoring mistakes by following the advice we’ve outlined in this post.

If you want to see for yourself how Zabbix can help you monitor your network as efficiently as possible and avoid common network monitoring mistakes, get in touch with us.

The post 5 Common Network Monitoring Mistakes (And How Zabbix Can Help You Avoid Them) appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

HPC Monitoring: Transitioning from Nagios and Ganglia to Zabbix 6

Post Syndicated from Mark Vilensky original https://blog.zabbix.com/hpc-monitoring-transitioning-from-nagios-and-ganglia-to-zabbix-6/27313/

My name is Mark Vilensky, and I’m currently the Scientific Computing Manager at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. I’ve been working in High-Performance Computing (HPC) for the past 15 years.

Our base is at the Chemistry Faculty at the Weizmann Institute, where our HPC activities follow a traditional path — extensive number crunching, classical calculations, and a repertoire that includes handling differential equations. Over the years, we’ve embraced a spectrum of technologies, even working with actual supercomputers like the SGI Altix.

Our setup

As of now, our system boasts nearly 600 compute nodes, collectively wielding about 25,000 cores. The interconnect is Infiniband, and for management, provisioning, and monitoring, we rely on Ethernet. Our storage infrastructure is IBM GPFS on DDN hardware, and job submissions are facilitated through PBS Professional.

We use VMware for the system management. Surprisingly, the team managing this extensive system comprises only three individuals. The hardware landscape features HPE, Dell, and Lenovo servers.

The path to Zabbix

Recent challenges have surfaced in the monitoring domain, prompting considerations for an upgrade to Red Hat 8 or a comparable distribution. Our existing monitoring framework involved Nagios and Ganglia, but they had some severe limitations — Nagios’ lack of scalability and Ganglia’s Python 2 compatibility issues have become apparent.

Exploring alternatives led us to Zabbix, a platform not commonly encountered in supercomputing conferences but embraced by the community. Fortunately, we found a great YouTube channel by Dmitry Lambert that not only gives some recipes for doing things but also provides an overview required for planning, sizing, and avowing future troubles.

Our Zabbix setup resides in a modest VM, sporting 16 CPUs, 32 GB RAM, and three Ethernet interfaces, all operating within the Rocky 8.7 environment. The database relies on PostgreSQL 14 and Timescale DB2 version 2.8, with slight adjustments to the default configurations for history and trend settings.

Getting the job done

The stability of our Zabbix system has been noteworthy, showcasing its ability to automate tasks, particularly in scenarios where nodes are taken offline, prompting Zabbix to initiate maintenance cycles automatically. Beyond conventional monitoring, we’ve tapped into Zabbix’s capabilities for external scripts, querying the PBS server and GPFS server, and even managing specific hardware anomalies.

The Zabbix dashboard has emerged as a comprehensive tool, offering a differentiated approach through host groups. These groups categorize our hosts, differentiating between CPU compute nodes, GPU compute nodes, and infrastructure nodes, allowing tailored alerts based on node types.

Alerting and visualization

Our alerting strategy involves receiving email alerts only for significant disasters, a conscious effort to avoid alert fatigue. The presentation emphasizes the nuanced differences in monitoring compute nodes versus infrastructure nodes, focusing on availability and potential job performance issues for the former and services, memory, and memory leaks for the latter.

The power of visual representations is underscored, with the utilization of heat maps offering quick insights into the cluster’s performance.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, our journey with Zabbix has not only delivered stability and automation but has also provided invaluable insights for optimizing resource utilization. I’d like to express my special appreciation for Andrei Vasilev, a member of our team whose efforts have been instrumental in making the transition to Zabbix.

The post HPC Monitoring: Transitioning from Nagios and Ganglia to Zabbix 6 appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

Celebrating the community: Sahibjot

Post Syndicated from Sophie Ashford original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/celebrating-the-community-sahibjot/

In our series of community stories, we celebrate some of the wonderful things young people and educators around the world are achieving through the power of technology. 

A young person sits in a classroom.

In our latest story, we’re heading to Vivek High School in Mohali, India, to meet Sahibjot, a 14-year-old coding enthusiast who has taken his hobby to the next level thanks to mentorship, Code Club, and the exciting opportunity to take part in the Coolest Projects 2023 global online showcase.

Introducing Sahibjot

When he was younger, Sahibjot loved playing video games. His interest in gaming led him to discover the world of game development, and he was inspired to find out more and try it out himself. He began to learn to code in his spare time, using tutorials to help him develop his skills.

A young person sits at a table outside and uses a laptop.

Keen to share the joy he had experienced from gaming, Sahibjot set himself the challenge of creating a game for his cousin. This project cemented his enthusiasm for coding and developing games of his own.

“I always felt that I have played so many games in my life, why not make one and others will enjoy the same experience that I had as a child.

For my cousin, I made a personal game for him, and he played it and he liked it very much, so once he played it, I felt that, yes, this is what I want to do with my life.” – Sahibjot

Mentorship and collaboration

While continuing to hone his computing skills at home, Sahibjot heard that his school had started a Code Club. After initially feeling nervous about joining, his enthusiasm was bolstered by the club mentor, Rajan, talking about artificial intelligence and other interesting topics during the session, and he soon settled in. 

A group of students and a teacher at computers in a classroom.

At Code Club, with support and encouragement from Rajan, Sahibjot continued to develop and grow his coding skills. Alongside his technical skills, he also learned about teamwork and working collaboratively. He embraced the opportunity to help his peers, sharing his knowledge with others and becoming a mentor for younger club members. 

Three students chat outside a school building.

“Last year, we joined this coding club together and we became friends. He’s a very friendly person. Whenever we need him, he just quickly helps us. He helps us to troubleshoot, find any bugs, or even fix our codes.” – Akshat, fellow Code Club member

A global opportunity

The next step for Sahibjot came when Rajan introduced him and his fellow Code Club members to Coolest Projects. Coolest Projects is a celebration of young digital creators and the amazing things they make with technology. It offers participants the opportunity to share their tech creations in a global, online showcase, and local in-person events celebrating young creators are also held in several countries.

A group of students in a classroom being guided through their computing projects by a teacher.

Sahibjot was eager to take part and showcase what he had made. He submitted a Python project, a ping-pong game, to the online showcase, and was very excited to then see his creation receive a special shout-out during the Coolest Projects global livestream event. He was delighted to share this achievement with his friends and family, and he felt proud to be representing his school and his country on a global stage.

“I told everyone around me that there was going to be a livestream and I possibly might be featured in that, so that was really exciting. I learned a lot about just not representing my school and myself as an individual, I learned about representing my whole nation.” — Sahibjot

Sahibjot’s passion for computing has helped shape his aspirations and ambitions. Looking to the future, he hopes to use his technology skills to benefit others and make an impact.

“Using code and technology and all of the things like that, I aspire to make effort to do something with the world, like help out people with technology.” — Sahibjot

Inspire young creators like Sahibjot

To find out how you and young creators you know can get involved in Coolest Projects, visit coolestprojects.org. If the young people in your community are just starting out on their computing journey, visit our projects site for free, fun beginner coding projects.

For more information to help you set up a Code Club in your school, visit codeclub.org.

Join us in celebrating Sahibjot’s inspiring journey by sharing his story on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The post Celebrating the community: Sahibjot appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

2023 in Review: A Bigger, Bolder, and Better Zabbix

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/2023-in-review-a-bigger-bolder-and-better-zabbix/27272/

It hardly seems possible, but somehow 2023 is already in the rearview mirror. It’s been quite a ride, full of dynamic growth, popular events, new releases, and exciting additions to our global community. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the highlights!

Spreading the word

We radically expanded our slate of events this year in an attempt to spread the good word about the world’s finest open-source monitoring solution and meet our vibrant community. Our efforts took the form of:

• 31 meetings (in locations ranging from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul to Paris)
• 3 forums (in Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Mexico City)
• 16 meetups (online and in multiple locations around the globe)
• 5 conferences (in Germany, Benelux, China, Japan, and Latin America)
• Countless exhibitions, trade fairs, and expos from Las Vegas to Tokyo and all points in between

Oh, and one blowout Zabbix Summit in Riga in October!

Building a better product

This year we released Zabbix 6.4, which included many important new features:

• Just-in-time (JIT) user provisioning
• Cause and symptom events
• Instant propagation of configuration changes
• Zero-downtime upgrades
• SNMP discovery/bulk data collection speed and performance improvements
• A new menu layout
• The ability to stream metrics and events from Zabbix to external systems over HTTP
• Template versioning
• A development framework for widget creation
• Optional interfaces for server-originated checks
• Streamlined media type configuration for multiple email service providers

Zabbix 6.4 also comes with many new templates for the most popular vendors and cloud providers, including:

• Microsoft Azure MySQL servers
• Microsoft Azure PostgreSQL servers
• Microsoft Azure virtual machines
• Low-level discovery improvements in AWS by HTTP template
• Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager
• Veeam Backup and Replication
• Cisco Nexus 9000 Series
• BMC Control-M
• Cisco Meraki dashboard
• OS processes by Zabbix agent
• Improvements to filesystem discovery in official Zabbix OS templates

Speaking of templates, since the release of Zabbix 6.0, we have developed 38 new integrations, including:

• 16 application templates
• 4 cloud templates
• 2 database templates
• 6 webhooks
• 2 net templates
• 3 SAN templates
• 5 server templates

Maintaining security

In January, we received an ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certificate for information security. The certification stands as proof positive that Zabbix protects all our information within the highest internationally acknowledged security standards and reaffirms our commitment to prioritize information security best practices everywhere within our organization.

February saw us launch a public bug bounty program in partnership with HackerOne, the world’s number one ethical hacker-powered platform. The program’s purpose is to discover potential security vulnerabilities by letting hackers proactively search for and report Zabbix security vulnerabilities and get rewarded for found and validated issues. The program has been a massive success, with 15 reports resolved and $17,800 in bounties being paid out so far.

The power of growth

In 2023 we managed to grow our headcount across every location we operate in, while adding to a growing roster of remote workers from around the world. On March 29, we officially opened a new office in Mexico, joining our offices in Brazil (opened in 2020), the United States (2016), Japan (2012), and Latvia (2005).

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we invited our community of users, partners, and customers to participate in a free and exclusive event dedicated entirely to Zabbix. They were able to learn a little more about the company, ask questions about the plans for the new office, and share knowledge with our team of experts.

Our Integration team also saw significant growth in 2023, which has resulted in a faster rollout of popular templates and integrations as well as higher levels of quality than ever before. The Partners team had a busy year as well, adding 19 new certified partners around the globe and upgrading several others to Premium and Certified Reseller status.

Lending a helping hand

As an open-source company, we champion knowledge sharing and a more open world. It’s why we took part in the career day at the Transport and Telecommunication Institute in Riga, supported the “Youth Has Talent” contest in Latvia organized by the Laiks Jauniešiem association, and sent our Head of Training Kristine Lamberte as a guest speaker to Rezekne Technical School.

Our team in Latin America got in on the action by working with the DEDICATE Foundation to develop the Zabbix Innova Challenge. It’s a free activity that’s designed to promote the development of technological projects that involve young people in Mexico, while boosting the technology community and stimulating the development of creative solutions.

Our goal in showing up at all these events is to encourage young talent, support and invest in local social projects that empower and inspire future generations, share our skills and experience, and showcase some of the amazing career opportunities that Zabbix can offer.

We aim to create a world without interruption, and just as we strive to make the world a better place by building the best monitoring tool possible, we also do what we can to help those around us whose lives have been interrupted by circumstances beyond their control.

In 2023, that involved donating a total of €378,000 to organizations like the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Samaritan International Latvia, The Oncological Patient Support Association “Tree of Life”, the Children’s Foundation of Latvia, the Autism Support Point in Rēzekne, and ziedot.lv.

Getting noticed

The world continued to sit up and take notice of what we’ve been doing in 2023. Brazilian tech journal iMasters started off the year by noting Zabbix LATAM’s incredible 300% growth rate, while another Brazilian journal, Baguete, published an outstanding piece on the opening of the Zabbix office in Mexico.

In May, we were recognized as the top monitoring solution on Peerspot, and July saw us spotlighted in Labs of Latvia, a media platform for tech and innovation, which reported on our global expansion.

October brought with it a wave of favorable press coverage – Zabbix Summit 2023 speaker Dr. Hiroshi Abe had great things to say about us when profiled in El Español, and the same publication also published a well-researched company profile after the Summit.

In addition, Guaratã Almeida, a Zabbix partner and the technology director of the Brazilian city of Maceió, was an enthusiastic4 participant in the Summit, as noted by the city’s website.

Meanwhile, ThinkIT in Japan published an insightful interview with Zabbix Engineers Elina Pulke and Eliza Sekace, plus an inside look at the Summit proceedings.

Belgian website ITdaily followed that up with a post-Summit look at our business model and future plans, while Techzine published a glowing profile of their own as November drew to a close.

The icing on the cake of 2023 was Zabbix being named to the list of the “Top 101 Latvia’s Most Valuable Enterprises in 2023.” It’s a good measure of our significant contribution to Latvia’s economy and a reminder of our increasingly global impact.

Carrying our momentum into 2024

It was a year full of growth and accomplishments, and it was all possible because of our incredible community of customers and contributors! As 2024 approaches, you can look forward to a long list of new upgrades, events, and inspiration. Keep following us on social media, reading our blog, and checking our forum to stay on top of all the latest Zabbix news and events!

The post 2023 in Review: A Bigger, Bolder, and Better Zabbix appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

How GitHub’s Developer Experience team improved innerloop development

Post Syndicated from belaltaher8 original https://github.blog/2024-01-24-how-githubs-developer-experience-team-improved-innerloop-development/


Building confidence in new code before deploying is a crucial part of any good development loop. This is especially challenging when working in a distributed or microservice system with multiple teams operating on different services. This modular team structure gives rise to an important question: how can we provide teams with fast and reliable development cycles when testing and shipping requires them to test inside an ecosystem of other services? Optimizing the solution to this problem greatly improves engineering efficiency and can contribute to more successful outcomes for the organization as a whole.

This problem is one the Developer Experience (DX) team at GitHub grappled with again and again, ultimately delivering a solution we call “Hubber Codespace” (HCS). HCS is a tool that Hubbers (people who work at GitHub) can use to locally stand up the entire distributed GitHub ecosystem in any environment by simply querying an endpoint or adding a couple lines of configuration to their development containers.

In this post, we’ll tell you how we landed on the HCS solution to this common problem over some possible alternatives, and you’ll get a first-hand look at how GitHub’s developer-first mindset helped us deliver the best tool for Hubbers to ship code quickly and safely in our own distributed environment.

One big (un)-happy environment

To understand the problem we were trying to solve, we have to go back in time. There was a point at which GitHub was just a couple teams and a much simpler product. Back then, having a monorepo in which everyone iterated and built confidence in their changes made sense. Splitting responsibilities up across repositories would have added overhead that bogged down early Hubbers. Fast forward to today, and GitHub has grown into a big organization with hundreds of different teams. Now, the balancing act of evaluating between velocity vs. complexity can look very different.

Let’s consider these complexities a bit further. Different services can have entirely different sets of dependencies and even have dependencies on different versions of the same software (for example, one service requires Ruby 2.2 while another requires Ruby 2.4). In smaller collaborative settings, the engineers can easily reconcile these needs. But this complexity grows exponentially as more teams are introduced. Trying to provide a single environment in which these kinds of disparate services can run and interact in development becomes difficult to do. It can result in ad-hoc “hacks” in development loops like deleting a .ruby-version file depending on which service’s development loop you’re working through. These are the kinds of problems that you encounter when trying to work with a monorepo that contains the codebases for a set of disparate services.

So, we decided to design a new solution. Instead of bringing the developers to the ecosystem, what if we brought the ecosystem to the developers?

Enter HCS

This line of thinking led us to build HCS, a Docker-Compose project that does exactly that. In the post “How we build containerized services at GitHub using GitHub,” we detailed how we build containerized services that power microservices on the GitHub.com platform and many internal tools. Our task now was to take these containers and wire them up such that partner teams could spin up a full GitHub ecosystem on demand. This would allow them to test their changes in an integrated environment. Developers could see how their code behaves when introduced to GitHub’s distributed system, rather than only observing it in the isolated environment of the application being developed before deploying within the full system. In this way, developers could gain confidence that the services they were changing behaved correctly when interacting with their up and downstream dependencies.

When considering how to orchestrate all the required containers, a few solutions came to mind: Docker-Compose, an internal tool called Codespace-Compose that allows us to SSH tunnel between multiple codespaces, and Minikube. Any of these three solutions could solve the ecosystem problem and would have unique tradeoffs. Let’s look at some of those tradeoffs now.

Minikube offers a robust Kubernetes architecture, but we had concerns about the overall user experience. We ultimately decided against it as the issues we identified, such as networking complexity and long cycle times, could bog down development speed.

Codespace-Compose allows us to easily connect teams’ everyday development environments, but we reasoned that, since Codespace-Compose is an internal experiment without any SLA, we’d incur a maintenance cost on our own team by adopting this.

Docker-Compose seemed to fit our needs the best. It didn’t incur any additional maintenance burden since it’s publicly available and actively managed. It offers all the same benefits of Minikube without the long cycle time. Most importantly, using Docker in Docker in a codespace, which allows us to create docker containers on a host which is a docker container itself, is a well-paved path that has lots of prior art. Given all these considerations, we decided on orchestrating our containers using Docker-Compose.

After deciding on Docker-Compose as our orchestrator, the next steps were to figure out the interface. Docker-Compose already supplies end users with commands, but we wanted to optimize the UX around HCS. To do this, we built a user-friendly CLI in Golang with parallel versioning to HCS. This abstracted away all the complexity of using the two together. Simply download a specific release version for HCS, get the same version of the CLI binary, and you’re good to go!

CLI and release automation

Ensuring HCS is useful means ensuring a couple of things. One important goal is ease of use. Docker-Compose already offers an interface for end users, but considering some of the built in commands are long and use predictable options, we decided to wrap it in a custom Golang CLI. This abstracted many of the underlying details away, such as static file locations, formatting options, entrypoint commands, etc. to improve end-user experience. The code below shows this by juxtaposing the Docker-Compose commands with their equivalent HCS CLI command.

The following example compares the commands to start up the integrated environment provided by HCS.

# Start using Docker-Compose

docker compose --project-name hcs \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-actions.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-base.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-bg.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-core.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-volume.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-test.yml \
--file /workspaces/hubber-codespace-dist/docker-compose-hcs-vendor.yml \
--profile full up -d --remove-orphans

# Start using CLI

hcs start

This next example compares how to get a shell to run commands from inside the various containers in GitHub’s distributed ecosystem. This allows developers to modularly interact with and make ephemeral changes to the system.

# Run command from inside a container in the system using Docker-Compose

docker compose --project-name hcs exec bash

# Run from inside a container using CLI

hcs shell

This example compares how to check the status of the containers in the project so end-users can easily see the health of the entire system.

# Status using Docker-Compose

docker compose --project-name hcs ps --format json

# Status using CLI

hcs status

In addition to this easy-to-use and ergonomic CLI, we had to ensure that HCS runs an up-to-date version of the GitHub ecosystem. GitHub is made up of so many different moving pieces that testing new changes on code that’s even a couple days old would not be sufficient to build confidence. When iterating directly on the monorepo, this was a non-issue since folks just fetched the main branch. For HCS, this required us to build automation that cuts releases on a frequent cron schedule. A release of HCS is a software artifact containing the compiled Golang binary for HCS and its CLI that can be pulled using the gh CLI.

The diagram below illustrates how this process works.

This diagram shows the nightly release cycle of HCS. HCS's repository gets SHAs from the monorepo and other service repositories. Then it publishes a release with all the SHAs, the Docker-Compose configs, and the CLI binary.

End-user experience

Using HCS directly in your codespace

We’ve recently made efforts to push all development at GitHub onto GitHub Codespaces. A codespace is a custom development container, or devcontainer, based on a configuration file in a repository. A repository can have multiple codespaces associated with it as long as each has a unique configuration file. On top of the obvious benefits of having a reproducible environment on demand to develop and iterate in, devcontainers offer features. This abstraction allows developers to easily add software to their environments. HCS is also consumable this way. The code block below shows the couple lines needed to bring this entire ecosystem to a partner team’s preferred environment (that is, their codespace).

{
…
  "features": {
    …
    "ghcr.io/devcontainers/features/github-cli:1": {
      "version": "latest"
    },
    //docker-in-docker required for hcs
    "ghcr.io/devcontainers/features/docker-in-docker:2": {},
    // Include the hubber-codespace feature
    "ghcr.io/github/hubber-codespace/hcs:1": {},
    "ghcr.io/devcontainers/features/go:1": {}
    …
  }
}

Now, teams can perform integration testing against the many other services in GitHub’s ecosystem from directly in the codespace where they were doing local development.

Release binary

Even with the push towards codespaces, not every context that requires an ecosystem will be a devcontainer. In light of this, we also gave end users the option to download the release directly from the GitHub API. The commands to do so can be seen below. With a couple simple commands, Hubbers now have everything they need to bring the entire GitHub ecosystem to whatever environment they want.

gh release download --repo github/hubber-codespace  -p hcs -D /tmp/

chmod +x /tmp/hcs

sudo mv /tmp/hcs /usr/local/bin

hcs init

hcs pull

hcs start

Testimonials

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out what our partner teams have had to say about HCS improving their development loop:

“HCS has improved our dev loop for [our service] by making it simple to test [it] against [the rest of GitHub’s ecosystem]. It’s turned what used to be a number of manual steps to clone our repository into the [monorepo environment] into two simple commands in our own codespace. This has made it much easier to validate our changes without having to deploy to a staging environment.”

“Given that we are a service operating outside GitHub but with a heavy reliance on the services running within GitHub, we’ve had to go through a lot of bells and whistles to ensure we can have a smooth development experience. In my four years working on [our service], HCS has been the most seamless experience in going from a blank devbox to breakpointing live running code for our service.”

Conclusion

Solving the ecosystem problem is always a balancing act. Luckily, thanks to GitHub’s push towards containerization, and tooling such as repository automation and publishing/consuming releases through the GitHub CLI, we were adequately equipped to develop a solution with HCS. Hubbers can now leverage a development loop that allows them to deploy with confidence, having tested their changes within GitHub’s complex multi-service system.

The post How GitHub’s Developer Experience team improved innerloop development appeared first on The GitHub Blog.

Working with UK youth and community organisations to tackle the digital divide

Post Syndicated from Tom Hadfield original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/working-with-uk-youth-community-organisations-to-tackle-digital-divide/

At the heart of our work as a charity is the aim to democratise access to digital skills and technologies. Since 2020, we have partnered with over 100 youth and community organisations in the UK to develop programmes that increase opportunities for young people experiencing educational disadvantage to engage and create with digital technology in underserved communities.

Youth organisations attempting to start a coding club can face a range of practical and logistical challenges, from a lack of space, to funding restrictions, and staff shortages. However, the three issues that we hear about most often are a lack of access to hardware, lack of technical expertise among staff, and low confidence to deliver activities on an ongoing basis.

In 2023, we worked to help youth organisations overcome these barriers by designing and delivering a new hybrid training programme, supported by Amazon Future Engineer. With the programme, we aimed to help youth leaders and educators successfully incorporate coding and digital making activities as part of their provision to young people.

“Really useful, I have never used Scratch so going [through] the project made it clear to understand and how I would facilitate this for the children[.]” – Heather Coulthard, Doncaster Children’s University

Participating organisations

We invited 14 organisations from across the UK to participate in the training, based on:

  • The range of frontline services they already provide to young people in underresourced areas (everything from employability skills workshops to literacy classes, food banks, and knife crime awareness schemes)
  • Previous participation in Raspberry Pi Foundation programmes
  • Their commitment to upskill their staff and volunteers and to run sessions with young people on a regular basis following the training

Attendees included a number of previous Learn at Home partners, including Breadline London, Manchester Youth Zone, and Youth Action. They all told us that the additional support they had received from the Foundation and organisations such as The Bloomfield Trust during the coronavirus pandemic had directly inspired them to participate in the training and begin their own coding clubs. 

Online sessions to increase skills and confidence

We started with four online training sessions where we introduced the youth leaders to digital making concepts, programming languages, and recommended activities to run with their young people. This included everything from making their own block-based Scratch games, to running Python programs on our Code Editor and trying out physical computing via our new micro:bit project path.

Alongside digital skills and interactive codealongs, the training also focused on how to be an effective CoderDojo mentor, including classroom management best practice, an explanation of the thinking behind our 3…2…1…Make! project paths, and an overview of culturally relevant pedagogy.

This last part explored how youth leaders can adapt and tailor digital making resources designed for a wide, general audience for their specific groups of young people to aid their understanding, boost their learning outcomes, and increase their sense of belonging within a coding club environment — a common blocker for organisations trying to appeal to marginalised youth.

In-person training to excite and inspire

The training culminated in a day-long, in-person session at our head office in Cambridge, so that youth leaders and educators from each organisation could get hands-on experience. They experimented with physical computing components such as the Raspberry Pi Pico, trained their own artificial intelligence (AI) models using our Experience AI resources, and learned more about how their young people can get involved with Coolest Projects and Astro Pi Mission Zero.

The in-person session also gave everyone the chance to get excited about running digital making activities at their centres: the youth leaders got to ask our team questions, and had the invaluable opportunity to meet each other, share their stories, swap advice, and discuss the challenges they face with their peers.

“Having the in-person immensely improved my skills and knowledge. The instructors were all brilliant and very passionate.” – Awale Elmi, RISE Projects

Continuing support

Finally, thanks to the generous support from Amazon Future Engineer, we were able to equip each participating organisation with Raspberry Pi 400 kits so that the youth leaders can practise and share the skills and knowledge they gained on the course at their centres and the organisations can offer computing activities in-house.

Over the next 12 months, we will continue to work with each of these youth and community organisations, supporting them to establish their coding clubs, and helping to ensure that young people in their communities get a fair and equal opportunity to engage and create with technology, no matter their background or challenges they are facing.

“It was really great. The online courses are excellent and being in-person to get answers to questions really helped. The tinkering was really useful and having people on hand to answer questions [was] massively useful.” – Liam Garnett, Leeds Libraries

For more information about how we can support youth and community organisations in the UK to start their own coding clubs, please send us a message with the subject ‘Partnerships’.

The post Working with UK youth and community organisations to tackle the digital divide appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Building a Partner Program: The Zabbix Advantage

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/building-a-partner-program-the-zabbix-advantage/27164/

At Zabbix, our emphasis on high performance, functionality, and reliability has led to the creation of one of the most popular monitoring solutions on the market. It’s so popular, in fact, that we get near-constant requests for Zabbix professional consulting, advice, support, and training from almost every corner of the world.

That’s why we created the Zabbix Partner Program. Our partner program was designed with one goal in mind – to get our services to the widest possible audience of qualified buyers by allowing customers to purchase them through a network of verified Zabbix partners as well as from Zabbix directly.

Our partners create high value for thousands of customers who would not otherwise enjoy access to Zabbix services by providing complete localization in terms of linguistic and cultural compatibility, availability across time zones, in-person access, and flexibility around currencies and payments.

To do that as effectively as possible, we’ve divided our partners into 3 categories:

Resellers. These are companies that promote and resell Zabbix services. Their job is to locate leads, present and promote Zabbix products and services, consult the leads regarding their ideal solutions, and arrange the contracts. At that point, Zabbix steps in and provides the services. Resellers are a great resource for customers who are limited by local regulations when it comes to buying Zabbix services in their local currency or from companies registered in their own country.

Certified Partners. Certified partners can also promote and resell Zabbix services, but they’re also officially authorized to deliver selected Zabbix services and solutions in their local languages. The ease of access and a common language allows certified partners to stay in close contact with customers. They can also sell their own value-adding services alongside Zabbix services.

Premium Partners. A premium partner has the same authorization as certified partners, but premium partner status is reserved for partners with the highest expertise and experience. Premium partners can participate in highly sophisticated Zabbix implementation, integration, and support projects.

Building a winning partner program has taught us a few things about the process, so without further ado, we’d like to share 6 best practices that we adhere to when it comes to cultivating and expanding our network of partners.

Set realistic goals

Years of running a partner program have taught us that success is impossible without clearly defined goals and success metrics. Setting firm, realistic goals for a program is the only way to measure its effectiveness and ROI. After a few quarters, it should be possible to compare performance to goals and see whether changes need to be made.

Accordingly, we make sure that Zabbix executives, sales teams, and partners are aware that getting a new program up and running (or making changes to an existing program) takes time. Expecting instant results is not realistic – we’ve learned that a ramp-up period of a few months is usually reasonable.

Make expectations clear

Nothing kills momentum faster than confusion. That’s why it’s important to make sure that partners have a solid understanding of everything that’s being asked of them. We’ve learned to give partners concise goals and objectives so that everyone is on the same page. We also create annual business plans for all three partnership programs, review them quarterly, and reward success.

Having the same KPIs as partners is also important. When different metrics for success exist, we run the risk of our partners being less enthusiastic about taking actions that will increase the success of Zabbix but may do less for them. In our experience, it’s better to build partnerships around a joint success target so that when partners win, we win.

Support your partners

At Zabbix, supporting our partners means providing outstanding sales, marketing, and technical support, all of which shows that we’re invested in their success as much as our own. Our partnership team helps partners with all presales-related questions, organizes demo calls, manages the deal registration to protect partner deals, patriciates in joint calls with customers, and helps with all possible legal questions and certifications.

Apart from day-to-day pre-sales support, we organize and participate in joint Zabbix marketing events of different formats together with our partners. These meetups, meetings, conferences, and external events organized by other vendors around the globe are designed to spread the word about Zabbix solutions and services while helping our partners generate new leads. During these events, our partners demonstrate their recent use-cases and serve as experts for the rest of the partner network and the wider Zabbix community.

Build Trust

Trust is the foundation of all partnerships, and we find that our partners trust us because we deliver the support and tools they need to be successful. It’s why we work hard to keep our partners updated with product developments and industry trends, and we continuously educate them on how to sell and overcome roadblocks.

We even allow some of our partners to conduct official Zabbix trainings, provided they have a certified trainer available. When an existing partner wants to become a training partner, we discuss their needs and plan their training certification together.

Measure and monitor

Whether launching a new program or scaling up an existing one, measuring the right key performance indicators (KPIs) can mean the difference between growth and chaos. If a business doesn’t know what to measure and optimize for their partner program, they won’t know what to improve if growth stalls out, and you’ll struggle to explain how partnerships contribute value.

It’s impossible to get far on the road to success without measuring progress along the way. That’s why we review goals and metrics with our partners every quarter, assess what’s working well and what’s missing the mark, and adapt and adjust if needed. We’ve learned not to change things up too often, but we’re always open to making tweaks that will amplify success.

Communicate effectively

One of the most important ingredients of any successful partner program is communication. It’s essential to keep partners informed about new products, promotions, and other important updates. That involves knowing the audience and understanding what each partner type and their respective employees are interested in and when.

A cornerstone of the Zabbix Partner Program is our ability to actively listen to our partners’ feedback. Our experience is that getting ahead of issues and concerns strengthens relationships, maintains trust, and guarantees that our partners feel supported and valued.

Conclusion

Becoming a Zabbix Partner is an ideal way to get recognized by potential customers and increase the visibility of your business, while also getting a leg up on your competitors by using technical support according to a professional service-level agreement.

In addition, you can count on discounts on all Zabbix services, the ability to access pre-sale consulting services, and participation in joint marketing events.

To find out more about our partner program and sign up, visit the Zabbix Partners page.

The post Building a Partner Program: The Zabbix Advantage appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

What’s Up, Home? – Monitor your ad blocker with Zabbix

Post Syndicated from Janne Pikkarainen original https://blog.zabbix.com/whats-up-home-monitor-your-ad-blocker-with-zabbix/26912/

Can you monitor your ad blocker with Zabbix? Of course, you can!

API defines it all

My home Asus router is running on Asuswrt-Merlin firmware, and with that, I have AdGuard Home ad blocker.

As AdGuard Home has an API, monitoring it with Zabbix is trivial.

Communicate with the API

Communicating with AdGuard Home API is easy: pass it Authorisation: Basic XXXXXXXXXXXX header, where XXXXXXXXXX is just a Base64 hash of your AdGuard username and password. You can generate that Base64 snippet with for example

echo -n "myuser:mypassword" | base64

Next, in Zabbix, create a new HTTP Agent type item, and point it to your AdGuard Home instance.

Create some items

You’ll get the info back as JSON, so next you can create some dependent items and start monitoring. I only added

  • Total number of DNS requests
  • Blocked # of DNS requests
  • Redirects to safe search
  • Parental advisory stuff
  • Average request processing time

For the dependent items, you’ll then just do some JSONPath processing.

Add triggers

Next, I added a few triggers to alert me if AdGuard starts to run slower than usual.

Add service

Finally, I added AdGuard as a new business service, so I’ll get an SLA for it.

And that’s it! From now on I’ll know more about how well my home router ad-blocker is working. (Well, it also has a Skynet firewall which probably filters stuff before AdGuard Home, but that’s another story….)

This post was originally published on the author’s page.

The post What’s Up, Home? – Monitor your ad blocker with Zabbix appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

Coolest Projects is back in 2024

Post Syndicated from Helen Gardner original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/coolest-projects-2024-dates/

Big news for young tech creators: Coolest Projects will return in 2024. The world’s leading showcase for young creators of digital tech will be open for registration in the online gallery, and we want young people worldwide to showcase their tech projects.

In 2024, we are hosting the Coolest Projects online showcase and livestream celebration for all young creators around the world, and also in-person events in the UK and Ireland for young creators who live there.

A girl presenting a digital making project

Key dates for Coolest Projects 2024

All young tech creators can take part — for free — in the Coolest Projects online showcase:

  • Registration opens: 14 February 2024
  • Registration closes: 22 May 2024
  • Celebratory livestream with announcement of the judges’ favourite projects: 26 June 2024
A young person using Raspberry Pi hardware and learning resources to do digital making

How does Coolest Projects work?

Coolest Projects is an opportunity for young tech creators to share what they have made with the world. Young people register their tech creations to show them the Coolest Projects online showcase gallery. Alongside mentors, parents, friends, and family members in their local and global communities, they can explore the gallery and celebrate what they and their peers have made.

Who can take part?

  • Coolest Projects is open to all tech creators up to age 18
  • Tech creators of all experience levels are encouraged to participate
  • Creators can take part individually or in teams of up to five
  • Creators can live in any place in the world
  • Participation is free
A boy participating in Coolest Projects shows off his tech project together with an adult.

What kinds of tech projects can be part of Coolest Projects?

  • All projects are welcome, whether they are beginner, advanced, or something in between
  • Projects can be registered in six categories: Scratch, games, web, mobile apps, hardware, and advanced programming
  • We love to see works in progress, so projects don’t need to be completed to be registered
  • Creators can choose any topic for their project, for example community, environment, health, fun, art, education, or identity
A group of young women present a robot buggy they have built.

What happens after registration?

  • The online gallery is open for young tech creators to explore to see what their peers all over the world have made
  • Judges evaluate projects based on their coolness, complexity, design, usability, and presentation, and give feedback to creators about their projects
  • Judges pick some of their favourite projects to highlight, and every participant gets a unique certificate and some fun digital swag
  • Participants and the whole global Coolest Projects community celebrates young tech creators’ ingenuity on our livestream on 26 June
Four young coders show off their tech project for Coolest Projects.

How can young people get started with their projects?

If your kids want to learn about creating with technology, check out our free guided coding project paths. These paths are designed to support all young people to learn how to make their own tech projects and develop their coding skills. For example:

  • For young people who are completely new to coding, our Introduction to Scratch path is a great place to start
  • If young people would like to create their own website, for example to share information about a cause they care about, they can follow our Intro to web path
  • The Introduction to Unity path is perfect for more experienced creators who are keen to build interactive 3D world

Young creators can take a look at the Coolest Projects 2023 online showcase gallery for inspiration if they are not sure what they want to make. You can also watch the story of Zaahra and Eesa, siblings who participated in Coolest Projects 2020.

Coolest Projects in-person events: Ireland and the UK

If you are a young creator in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, or the UK, then Coolest Projects is also coming to you in person in 2024. Participants will be able to meet other young tech creators, connect to their community, and celebrate each other’s creations. Young people are encouraged to take part in both the Coolest Projects global online showcase and their local in-person event.

Coolest Projects Ireland

  • Registration opens: 31 January 2024
  • Registration closes: 20 March 2024
  • Event day: 13 April 2024
The exhibition hall at Coolest Projects Ireland 2023.
Coolest Projects Ireland 2023

Coolest Projects Ireland will take place at DCU St Patrick’s College Campus, Drumcondra in Dublin. It’s open to young creators in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and their families and friends are invited to come along to celebrate them and see all the incredible projects on show. Participants can apply for partial bursaries for the costs of attending the event.

Coolest Projects UK

Very soon we will announce the date and venue for Coolest Projects UK for all young creators in the UK. Sign up for email updates to be the first to hear about it. We will also share full details of each in-person event on the Coolest Projects website when registration opens.

A young person creating a project at a laptop. An adult is sat next to them.

If you live in another country…

If there’s not an in-person Coolest Projects event near you, you can still join in the fun: the Coolest Projects online showcase is open to any young creator aged up to 18, from anywhere in the world. We also work with brilliant partner organisations around the world to bring Coolest Projects events to their countries and communities. Sign up to the Coolest Projects newsletter to be the first to know about any in-person event in your country.

What’s next?

Coolest Projects registration opens soon in 2024, and young creators can start thinking of ideas and working on their projects now. Or if young people have already made something they are really proud of, they can showcase that creation once registration is open.

Coolest Projects logo.

Sign up for email updates to always get the latest news about all things Coolest Projects, from event updates to the fun swag coming for 2024.

The post Coolest Projects is back in 2024 appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Celebrating the community: St Joseph’s Secondary School

Post Syndicated from Sophie Ashford original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/celebrating-the-community-st-josephs/

In our series of community stories, we celebrate some of the amazing young people and educators who are using their passion for technology to create positive change in the world around them. 

A group of students at secondary schools.

In our latest story, we’re sharing the inspiring journey of St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rush, Ireland. Over the past few years, the school community has come together to encourage coding and digital skills, harnessing the European Astro Pi Challenge as an opportunity to kindle students’ enthusiasm for tech and teamwork. 

We caught up with some of the educators and students at St Joseph’s, fresh off the success of their participation in another round of Astro Pi, to delve a little deeper into the school’s focus on making opportunities to engage with computing technologies accessible to all.

Introducing St Joseph’s Secondary School

St Joseph’s Secondary School is in the heart of Rush, a rural town steeped in agricultural heritage. The school houses a diverse student population coming from the local multigenerational farming families as well as families who’ve been drawn to Rush more recently by its beautiful countryside and employment opportunities. St Joseph’s leadership team has responded to the changing demographics and increase of its student population by adapting and growing the school’s curriculum to meet the evolving needs of the young people and help them build a strong community.

A group of students at a computer at secondary schools.
Working as teams for the Astro Pi Challenge has helped the St Joseph’s students connect and support each other as a community.

One of the school’s most popular initiatives has been teaching coding from first year (ages 12–13). This proactive approach has resonated with many students, including Kamaya, a member of the school’s 2022/23 Astro Pi cohort, who first discovered her passion for space science and computing through the movie Interstellar.

I remember the first time I was like, ‘OK, space is cool’ is when I watched a movie. It was called Interstellar. I [realised] I might want to do something like that in my future. So, when I came to [St Joseph’s] secondary school, I saw coding as a subject and I was like, ‘Mum, I’ve got to do coding.’

Kamaya, student at St Joseph’s

Inspiring students to build community through Astro Pi

A key person encouraging St Joseph’s students to give coding a try has been Mr Murray, or Danny as he is fondly referred to by students and staff alike. Danny was introduced to the importance of engaging with computing technologies while teaching science at a school in England: he attended a Code Club where he saw kids building projects with Raspberry Pis, and he couldn’t wait to get involved. Growing his knowledge from there, Danny changed subject focus when he moved back to Ireland. He took on the challenge of helping St Joseph’s expand their computer science offering, along with leading on all IT-related issues.

A secondary school teacher.
Teacher Danny Murray has used his enthusiasm to help shape a culture of digital skills at St Joseph’s.

When the school introduced mandatory coding taster sessions for all first-year students, Danny was blown away by the students’ eagerness and wanted to provide further opportunities for them to see what they could achieve with digital technologies.

This is where Astro Pi came in. After hearing about this exciting coding challenge through an acquaintance, Danny introduced it to his computer science class, as well as extending an open invitation to all St Joseph’s students. The uptake was vast, especially once he shared that the young people could become the recipients of some very exciting photos.

You get to see photos of Earth that nobody has ever seen. Imagine just talking to somebody and saying, ‘Oh, there’s a picture of the Amazon. I took that picture when I was 14. From space.’

Danny Murray, computing teacher at St Joseph’s

Danny’s mission is to instil in his students the belief that they can achieve anything. Collaborating on Astro Pi projects has enabled young people at St Joseph’s to team up and uncover their strengths, and has helped foster a strong community.

A culture of digital skills

The students’ sense of community has transcended Danny’s classroom, creating a culture of enthusiasm for digital skills at St Joseph’s. Today, a dedicated team of students is in charge of solving tech-related challenges within the school, as Deputy Principal Darren Byrne explains:

Our own students actually go class to class, repairing tech issues. So, every day there are four or five students going around checking PCs in classrooms. They […] give classes to our first-year students on app usage.
It’s invested in the whole school [now], the idea that students can look after this kind of technology themselves. We’re the ones reaching out for help from the students!

Darren Byrne, Deputy Principal at St Joseph’s

Spark enthusiasm in your school community

To find out how you can get involved in Astro Pi, visit astro-pi.org for further information, deadlines, and more. If you would like to learn more about the other free resources we have available to help you inspire a coding community in your school, head to www.raspberrypi.org/teach

Help us celebrate St Joseph’s Secondary School by sharing their story on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The post Celebrating the community: St Joseph’s Secondary School appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Training and Skills Development: The Zabbix Advantage

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/training-and-skills-development-the-zabbix-advantage/26873/

At Zabbix, we know that we’ve developed a competitive product. We know it’s very likely the best on the market. Millions of satisfied customers around the world download and use it every day. But that’s not where the story ends.

It’s critical to us that our customers know how to use our product to its full potential in order to get the most value out of it. That’s why we take ongoing training and skills development so seriously, and why we work hard to equip our users with knowledge that’s designed to increase their productivity and performance.

We’ve got years of experience seeing what works and doesn’t work when it comes to showing our users how to get the most out of Zabbix. We’ve learned how to make complicated concepts simple, how to adjust to a wide variety of cultures and learning styles, and how to build courses that create happier, more productive, and more satisfied users.

Let’s take a look at what we’ve identified as 5 of our best training and development practices, and how they help to make sure that the information we present in our training sessions sticks with our users and helps them get as much value from Zabbix as they possibly can.

Perform an effective training and skills development needs analysis

Quality training and skills development begins with a needs analysis. This is a process that organizations use to determine the gap between the current and desired knowledge, skills, and abilities of end users. It typically involves determining the root cause for a training request, identifying the needed outcomes, and uncovering the best learning approach.

An effective needs analysis addresses questions like these:

  • Which of our users need training the most?
  • What kind of training do they require?
  • How can we best design an effective training program for them?
  • What will be the impact of training on their experience with Zabbix?
  • What level of investment and resources will be required to implement an effective training program for them?

At Zabbix, we ask ourselves these questions and many others before creating new training courses or modifying existing ones. We take into account our users’ backgrounds, including their education and work experience. We are always trying to speak to their experiences and offer content in a language that’s easy for them to understand. Our ultimate goal is to make our training sessions feel relevant to everyone, no matter their level of Zabbix experience.

Once we know who we’re speaking to, we can identify the areas where users may be struggling. We focus on what our users are motivated by and what tasks they seem to stumble over the most, and we know that showing users how our training can positively impact their careers will go a long way toward creating a receptive audience for the information we’re presenting.

Build targeted and customized courses

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to training and skills development. As the world and technology change, knowing which training methods to implement can be a challenge. Businesses, educators, and learners all have unique learning approaches, and tailoring a custom training program creates balance for effective learning experiences.

The Zabbix method is to create a different course for every skill level and potential user of our services, creating an official Zabbix certified training path that guides our users toward the goal of becoming a Zabbix certified expert.

We start by making sure we’ve clearly identified our target audience, so that we can create content that’s relevant and engaging. For example, in our Zabbix Certified Expert and Zabbix Certified Professional courses, we know that users already have a baseline of knowledge, so we don’t need to provide a lot of background or general information. Understanding our audience helps us keep the content concise and to the point.

From there, we focus on structuring our content. For us, this means keeping training and development focused on a single skill level and keeping content short and to the point. Once we have our “big picture” outline, we work with our trainers to plan out the format, key takeaways, and activities.

That brings us to our final point –providing a truly hands-on experience. We know that it’s critical for learners to be able to quickly apply what they’ve been taught, so we include at least one activity per section of a course, allowing learners to put their new skills to the test by performing practical tasks and solving real-life use cases. This approach is borne out by the fact that our labs are consistently rated by students as among their favorite aspects of the training experience.

Provide quality, professional materials

Experience shows that it’s vitally important to focus on providing training materials that are:

  • Professional in appearance AND user-friendly
  • Available before, during, and after class to reinforce the learning process
  • Aligned with the course objectives
  • Easy to access (including print or online options)

Every student who attends a Zabbix course gets the course presentation as well as the lab manual containing the practical tasks and their solutions. When it comes to the presentation, we go to great lengths to make sure we know our learners and write for them, using accessible, approachable language and keeping things simple and to the point at all times.

Have qualified and experienced instructors

Most people don’t recall a lot of details from specific lectures they attended in high school, but it’s very likely that they remember the name of their favorite teacher. Instructors have a massive impact on how adults learn as well.

Effective trainers continuously practice and develop qualities that improve their understanding of what learners and organizations need. They understand that the more they exercise these qualities, the better equipped they’ll be to deliver engaging trainings that create an active learning atmosphere and incorporate current learning trends.

Every Zabbix Certified trainer works with the tool on a daily basis, so they’ve got plenty of hands-on use cases, hacks, workarounds, and shortcuts to share. They understand that a quality training session is a continuous feedback loop between learners and an instructor, so they listen actively and encourage engagement through the use of activities and Q&A sessions throughout our courses.

In addition to their demonstrated knowledge of all things Zabbix, our trainers also bring to the table strong interpersonal skills and a passion for what they do. That’s why nearly all the feedback we receive highlights the expertise and professionalism of our trainers as a high point of the training experience.

Assess training and skills development effectiveness

Training effectiveness measures the impact of training on a learner’s knowledge, skills, and performance. It needs to measure not only what employees learn but how they apply it in their jobs. It should also determine whether the training truly benefits users, while uncovering any issues in the training process that need to be improved.

Zabbix takes a two-track approach to measuring the effectiveness of training and skills development. We incorporate assessments into all our training courses and ask for feedback post-session to help us understand what each user learned, but we also depend on a system of certifications that are backed up by exams.

A Zabbix certification is our guarantee that a certificate holder has mastered the theoretical and practical skills covered during a course. Participants must score 80% or higher to pass any exam, which is why they stand as concrete proof that a certificate holder has the required knowledge to understand the concepts presented in a training session and implement them in real Zabbix environments.

Conclusion

Zabbix has a wide variety of users, so we need to offer a wide variety of courses to meet their needs. Our training programs are intended for IT administrators, auditors, system integrators, and anyone else who deals with IT infrastructure monitoring.

We’re proud of the fact that even veteran administrators with several years of Zabbix experience come away from our trainings armed with inside knowledge of new features and best practices.
To find out more about our comprehensive suite of trainings and find the one that’s right for you or your organization, visit zabbix.com/training.

 

 

The post Training and Skills Development: The Zabbix Advantage appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

Decrypting Zabbix TLS with Wireshark

Post Syndicated from Markku Leiniö original https://blog.zabbix.com/decrypting-zabbix-tls-with-wireshark/26832/

One of the built-in security features in Zabbix is TLS (Transport Layer Security) support for external connections. This means that when your distributed Zabbix proxies or Zabbix agents connect to the Zabbix server (or vice versa), TLS can be used to encrypt all the connections. When the connections are encrypted, third parties cannot read the Zabbix components’ communication, even though they would be able to catch the network traffic in some way.

In specific cases you may still want to inspect the encrypted traffic, for example to troubleshoot some problems with Zabbix agents or proxies. I already wrote a post about troubleshooting Zabbix agent with Wireshark, but the TLS encryption prevents anyone seeing the actual contents of the packets.

Since the traffic is encrypted in the Zabbix components (the server, agents and proxies), there still is a way for you, the Zabbix administrator, to intervene with the encryption so that you can get hold of the unencrypted traffic as well. In this post I will explain the process.

First, let’s demonstrate the TLS encryption between a Zabbix agent and a Zabbix server. I have configured the agent (Zabbix Agent 2 actually) with these lines:

Hostname=Zabbix70-agent
ServerActive=zabbixtest.lein.io
TLSConnect=psk
TLSPSKIdentity=agent-ident
TLSPSKFile=/etc/zabbix/psk

In this example I’m using TLS with pre-shared key (PSK), and the key itself is saved in /etc/zabbix/psk. My favorite way of generating a PSK is using OpenSSL:

markku@agent:~$ openssl rand -hex 32
afa34bf1104a1457e11e7d3a9b1ff7f5fb4f494c92ca1a8a9c5e1437f8897416
markku@agent:~$

The same key must also be configured on the Zabbix server frontend, see the Zabbix documentation for the PSK configuration details:

After the configurations I captured the Zabbix traffic for some time on the Zabbix server (using sudo tcpdump port 10051 -v -w zabbix70-tls-agent.pcap), stopped the capture, copied the capture file to my workstation, and opened it with Wireshark.

The capture file can be downloaded here:

Note: I recommend using Wireshark version 4.1.0 or later when analyzing captures containing Zabbix traffic because the built-in Zabbix protocol support was only added to Wireshark in version 4.1.0.

The packet list looks like this:

As we can see in the Protocol column, there are no Zabbix packets recognized in this capture, there are only TCP and TLS packets (the TCP-marked packets being the “empty” packets for negotiating the actual connectivity).

A side detail: Even though the traffic is encrypted, you can still see the configured Zabbix TLS PSK identity (“agent-ident” in my configuration above) in plain text inside the TLS Client Hello packets, if you ever need to check that in the traffic.

Now that we confirmed that TLS encryption is used and we cannot see the Zabbix traffic contents in the capture, let’s prepare the Zabbix server for the TLS decryption.

As I hinted in the beginning, since we have the TLS connection endpoints under our management, we can do tricks on the hosts to get the encryption keys. TLS negotiates the encryption keys dynamically for each connection, but there is a way to save the keys to a file so that we can later decrypt the captured traffic. (Note: I’m not a protocol-level TLS expert, so please forgive me any possible technical inaccuracies in the detailed explanations. I’ll just call “TLS keys” whatever is needed to get the encryption/decryption done.)

Peter Wu (who, in contrast to me, is a protocol-level TLS expert, and also one of the Wireshark core developers) has kindly published code for a helper library that makes it possible for us to save the TLS session keys on the TLS endpoint. In this demo I will save the keys on the Zabbix server, but the same could be done on the agents/proxies instead if needed.

First I’ll see the TLS library that my Debian-based Zabbix server is using:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ ldd /usr/sbin/zabbix_server | grep ssl
        libssl.so.3 => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libssl.so.3 (0x00007f62ee47a000)
markku@zabbixserver:~$ dpkg -l libssl* | grep ^ii
ii  libssl3:amd64  3.0.9-1   amd64  Secure Sockets Layer toolkit - shared libraries
markku@zabbixserver:~$

To get and compile the helper library I’ll need to install some utilities:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ sudo apt install git gcc make libssl-dev
...
markku@zabbixserver:~$ dpkg -l libssl* | grep ^ii
ii  libssl-dev:amd64 3.0.9-1 amd64 Secure Sockets Layer toolkit - development files
ii  libssl3:amd64    3.0.9-1 amd64 Secure Sockets Layer toolkit - shared libraries
markku@zabbixserver:~$

I’ll the clone the Peter’s wireshark-notes repo to the server:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ git clone --depth=1 https://git.lekensteyn.nl/peter/wireshark-notes
Cloning into 'wireshark-notes'...
...
markku@zabbixserver:~$ cd wireshark-notes/src
markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$ ls -l
total 28
-rw-r--r-- 1 markku markku   534 Oct  7 15:39 Makefile
-rw-r--r-- 1 markku markku 11392 Oct  7 15:39 sslkeylog.c
-rw-r--r-- 1 markku markku  7278 Oct  7 15:39 sslkeylog.py
-rwxr-xr-x 1 markku markku  2325 Oct  7 15:39 sslkeylog.sh
markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$

Now I can compile the library and make it available on the server:

markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$ make
cc   sslkeylog.c -shared -o libsslkeylog.so -fPIC -ldl
markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$ sudo install libsslkeylog.so /usr/local/lib
markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$ ls -l /usr/local/lib/libsslkeylog.so
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 17336 Oct  7 15:40 /usr/local/lib/libsslkeylog.so
markku@zabbixserver:~/wireshark-notes/src$ cd
markku@zabbixserver:~$

To use the helper library, a couple of environment variables need to be set. For Zabbix server the easy way is to edit the systemd configuration for zabbix-server service:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ sudo systemctl edit zabbix-server

In the editor that opens I’ll add these in the configuration:

[Service]
Environment=LD_PRELOAD=/usr/local/lib/libsslkeylog.so
Environment=SSLKEYLOGFILE=/tmp/tls.keys

The variables are kind of self-explanatory: Whenever Zabbix server service is started, the libsslkeylog.so library is loaded first, and the SSLKEYLOGFILE variable sets the location of the file where the keys will be saved.

Now the word of warning: The libsslkeylog.so library, when loaded by a process that uses TLS communication, will save the encryption/decryption keys of all the TLS sessions of the process to the configured file. This means that whoever gets that file and the saved TLS communication will be able to see the decrypted contents of the packets, defeating the whole idea of the TLS encryption. You really don’t want to do this TLS key saving for any longer periods of time. Be sure to remove the configurations (and restart the service) after you have inspected whatever you were inspecting in your system. Or, don’t do any of this at all.

After saving the configuration the Zabbix server needs to be restarted:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ sudo systemctl restart zabbix-server
markku@zabbixserver:~$

The TLS keys have now started being saved in the configured file:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ ls -l /tmp/tls.keys
-rw-rw-r-- 1 zabbix zabbix 10157 Oct  7 15:45 tls.keys
markku@zabbixserver:~$

At this point the Zabbix agent is still communicating actively with the Zabbix server, so I’ll take a new capture with tcpdump (sudo tcpdump port 10051 -v -w zabbix70-tls-agent-2.pcap).

After a short while I’ll stop the capture, and copy the capture file and the TLS key file on my workstation.

Now it’s a good time to disable the TLS key saving as well (besides containing sensitive data, the key file will also grow with each new TLS session so it can quickly get very large), so I’ll edit the Zabbix service configuration, remove the configured lines and restart the service:

markku@zabbixserver:~$ sudo systemctl edit zabbix-server
markku@zabbixserver:~$ sudo systemctl restart zabbix-server
markku@zabbixserver:~$

When opening the new capture file in Wireshark there is no immediate change in the packet list: the TLS packets are still shown encrypted. Wireshark needs to be specifically configured to read the TLS keys from the separate file.

In Wireshark, I’ll go to Edit – Preferences – Protocols – TLS:

There is the “(Pre)-Master-Secret log filename” field, I’ll use Browse button to select the copied tls.keys file, and save the configuration with OK.

At this point Wireshark reloads the capture file and the Zabbix agent TLS sessions will be decrypted:

Using the “zabbix” display filter will show just the Zabbix protocol packets:

When selecting a Zabbix protocol packet and looking at the packet details, in the lower right pane there are now three tabs: Frame (the encrypted TLS data), Decrypted TLS, and Uncompressed data.

This is because in this example the Zabbix agent 2 also compresses the traffic, and the compressed traffic is then encrypted when sending out to the network. Wireshark can interpret all this because of its built-in knowledge about TLS encryption and the Zabbix protocol structure, as well as the user-supplied TLS decryption keys.

We are now able to analyze the Zabbix agent communication with Wireshark even though the traffic was TLS-encrypted when we captured it.

One more trick about the TLS keys in Wireshark: It is also possible to save the keys inside the capture file when analyzing the traffic, instead of having the keys in a separate file (tls.keys in this example). I’ll go in Edit menu and select Inject TLS Secrets, and then save the capture file in pcapng format. Now the previously loaded keys are embedded in the capture file, and I can clear the “(Pre)-Master-Secret log filename” field in the TLS settings (as the filename setting is not useful in any later Wireshark analysis). The same can also be done in the command line by using editcap --inject-secrets (editcap is part of Wireshark install, see the manual page of editcap for more details).

Here is the second capture file of this demo, with the embedded TLS keys:

Finally some closing comments:

  • As demonstrated, when you have administrator/root-level access to the TLS session endpoint (Zabbix server in this example), there can be a possibility to save and decrypt the TLS sessions using external tooling. After all, TLS encryption is based on the negotiation between the TLS-connected endpoints, so if you are the TLS connection endpoint, you have ways to access the plaintext data. If you don’t have sufficient access to the TLS session endpoint, there is no way you can get the decryption keys mid-path.
  • Act responsibly when saving the TLS session keys for any traffic, on Zabbix server or otherwise. The encryption is there for a purpose, and saving the TLS keys always carries the risk that someone else gets access to data they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
  • Do not save the TLS session keys with the capture file, unless you are dealing with a test/demo environment, like I had here.
  • When troubleshooting Zabbix connections, TLS decryption with Wireshark is not the only way. You should also consider if just increasing the logging level in the Zabbix components brings you enough information to solve your case, or maybe in some specific case you can just disable TLS encryption for an agent for a moment to not have to deal with the decryption at all. But again, usually the encryption is there for a purpose, so you need to evaluate your own situation.

The post Decrypting Zabbix TLS with Wireshark appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

Technical Support: The Zabbix Advantage

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/technical-support-the-zabbix-advantage/26709/

If you’ve ever been part of a technical support team (or dealt with technical support as a customer, for that matter) you’re aware that there are as many different types of technical support teams as there are types of businesses.

However, there are a few best practices that all technical support teams share, no matter what industry they’re in. Read on to learn a bit more about them and see how our technical support team at Zabbix embodies each one.

Offer omnichannel technical support

Omnichannel support is the practice of providing support across every touchpoint that a customer uses to interact with your business. It’s not to be confused with multi-channel support, where teams work in silos and have little or no interaction.

Omnichannel support provides a unified experience across different channels, including email, phone, live chat, in-app chat, etc. Customers can start a conversation on any channel, at any time, and pick it up from where they left off on any other channel, any other time. Businesses can keep all customer data in the form of contacts inside a single platform, so that their support representatives can address issues with the proper context.

The goal of our technical support service at Zabbix has always been to provide responsive, dependable, quality support to resolve any issues regarding the installation, operation, and use of Zabbix.

Our specialists also leverage their skills, experience, and proximity to the design and development teams pass along the kind of helpful hints, tips, and tricks that help customers get the most out of their Zabbix installation.

The backbone of our support delivery is the Zabbix Support System. Available to every Zabbix customer, it guarantees swift and easy communication between customers and our technical specialists.

Email and remote sessions can be used to communicate with Zabbix support at any time.  Customers with our Global or Enterprise support tiers can access support services by phone or take advantage of on-site visits anywhere in the world by lead technical engineers.

No matter the channel, there’s no guesswork involved – all information is automatically entered into the support system to keep track of issues and resolutions.

Set realistic SLAs and stick to them

Service level agreements (SLAs) are critical to technical support performance. They help set clear expectations for both the service provider and the customer by outlining what services will be provided, how they will be delivered, and the expected level of performance. This gives everyone involved a clear understanding of what to expect, prevents any misunderstandings, and makes sure that the customer’s needs are being met.

SLAs also provide a way to measure the performance of the service provider. By defining metrics and targets, both parties can track the provider’s performance and make sure that they’re meeting the agreed-upon standards. This can help identify areas for improvement and provide a way to hold the service provider accountable if they don’t meet their obligations.

Here at Zabbix, we don’t just meet our SLAs – we exceed them by getting to the root cause of customer issues and providing extensive documentation with the aim of making sure they don’t happen again.

Our support goes far beyond the support of Zabbix as software – we do our best to support the whole monitoring infrastructure, which in some cases can even mean troubleshooting issues that are only tangentially connected to Zabbix as a monitoring system.

That might involve architecture questions, best practices in gathering data from one or another data source, or helping a customer understand and optimize some third-party scripts. No matter what the case may be, we do our best to help.

Listen to what customers need and communicate effectively

As anyone who’s ever contacted technical support knows, the best support isn’t necessarily provided by someone with genius level knowledge who understands every function of a product in minute detail.

For efficient technical support, communication skills are just as vital as technical knowledge. Specialists need to listen first, ask questions to confirm that they understand the problem, and restate what they’ve heard to give the customer the opportunity to provide more information. Above all, they need to speak to the customer’s level of understanding, avoiding jargon and needless details.

Our technical support team sees itself as a bridge between the customer’s needs and the solutions we provide. A key principle of technical support at Zabbix is the notion that the information our customers are sharing with us is precious. The way we see it, our customers give us valuable insights into what’s working in our product and what isn’t.

Listening carefully to the different support queries that we get allows us to form a complete feedback loop between our users and our solutions. For example, if our support team notices issues with collecting specific types of data or monitoring particular endpoints, they can prevent further queries by including a link to our FAQ section while our developers work to fix the issue.

Help customers help themselves

In technical support as in life, self-help is often the best help. It may seem illogical, but the best technical support is usually when the customer is either not asking for help or is able to help themselves.

Allowing customers to perform self-service saves them the time needed to call in or submit an online ticket, and it also improves turnaround time and serves them in the channel they prefer.

Giving customers the tools to be self-sufficient has been a part of our technical support philosophy at Zabbix from day one, and we’re fortunate to have a dedicated and devoted user community to help us do it.

Our users regularly post troubleshooting articles on our blog, and all official product documentation (including an extensive FAQ section) is available on our website. What’s more, our employees make a habit of sharing their knowledge on community Telegram channels, on-site and virtual meetups, and free webinars.

The official Zabbix forum is also a great place to go for support. Customers can interact with each other and get their problems solved easily. No matter what the issue, there’s a good chance that somebody somewhere has experienced it as well and may have a clever workaround or trick to share.

Self-help has limits, however. Your data and infrastructure are the core of your business, and some things are simply best left to experts. That’s why it’s a good idea to add to your knowledge via our official training sessions and have your most urgent issues taken care of by the skilled professionals on our support team. 

Embrace automation where it makes sense to do so

Not all technical support tasks can or should be automated. Most require complex problem-solving, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Others are repetitive, simple, or predictable. It’s important to identify the best use cases for automation based on what the customer expects, the nature and value of the task, and what resources are available.

Our philosophy at Zabbix has always been that there’s no substitute for the human element when it comes to technical support. Our customers trust us to handle complicated, urgent, and sensitive issues, and there’s no substitute for the hands-on assistance that our support team can provide. It’s why we take great pains to make sure that all our team members display soft skills like interpersonal communication, personality traits, and social awareness.

However, we also harness the power of automation to assist with lower-level and more menial tasks, such as ticket assignment and processing counts. Thanks to automation, our specialists don’t need to manually grab tickets from a pool. Instead, everything is automated based on the calendar and who is working on a particular shift.

The ultimate goal is always the same – choosing the best automation path for the particular task at hand so that the customer’s issue gets resolved as quickly as possible with a minimum of disruption.

Conclusion

At Zabbix, we see our role as solving problems, not questions. 95.7% of our resolved support tickets receive positive reviews, and it’s because of the hard work, dedication, knowledge, and soft skills of our support team, as well as their goal of providing sustainable growth, long-term success, and measurable outcomes.

Our support team is a truly global entity that can provide round-the-clock support, and it’s made up of highly skilled Zabbix professionals, experts, and trainers who can boast years or even decades of Zabbix experience. 

We offer multiple support tiers at a variety of price points, so you can be sure that no matter what the support needs of your organization happen to be, we have a plan that will fit perfectly.
Contact us to learn more and find the support tier that’s right for you.

The post Technical Support: The Zabbix Advantage appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

A Look Back at Zabbix Summit 2023

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/a-look-back-at-zabbix-summit-2023/26744/

Autumn in the Latvian capital of Riga is marked by a variety of traditions. The leaves fall, the rainy season arrives, the birds migrate, and IT professionals from around the world descend on the city for the annual Zabbix Summit.

On October 6 and 7, the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija was packed with 450 delegates from 38 countries, all there for Zabbix Summit 2023, the 11th in-person version of Zabbix’s premier yearly event.

This year’s Summit was marked by presentations, partner activities, and moments of relaxation and celebration that will energize the Zabbix community and spark ideas that attendees will take home to every corner of the world.

If you couldn’t make it, here’s a little taste of how it felt to be there!

Zabbix Summit 2023 in numbers

The stage hosted 27 speakers from 17 different countries who gave 31 speeches, including both lectures and lightning talks. There were four workshops with deep dives into technical topics, conducted by the Zabbix technical team as well as our partners from Opensource ICT Solutions and IZI-IT. Summit attendees also enjoyed three parties designed to provide a relaxing experience and networking opportunities.

Zabbix Summit 2023 proudly featured 10 sponsors, all part of Zabbix’s official partner network. They included:

initMAX – Diamond Sponsor
IntelliTrend – Platinum Sponsor
IZI-IT – Platinum Sponsor
Quadrata – Platinum Sponsor
Allenta – Gold Sponsor
Metricio – Gold Sponsor
Opensource ICT Solutions – Gold Sponsor
Docomo Business – Gold Sponsor
SRA OSS – Silver Sponsor
Enthus – Lunch and coffee break sponsor

We’d also like to give a shout-out to our Zabbix Fans, who played a crucial role in supporting the Summit this year (as every year) with their attendance, merchandise purchases, and enthusiasm!

We’re grateful to everyone who played a role and helped us make Zabbix Summit 2023 happen!

Highlights from the main stage

This year we continued a Summit tradition and allowed our in-person audience as well those tuning in via livestream and YouTube to ask questions during live Q&A sessions – a feature that made the proceedings more interactive and helped everyone feel more involved. The speeches were all fascinating and well received, but a few in particular stood out:

What the future holds for Zabbix

Zabbix CEO and Founder Alexei Vladishev kicked off the presentations on Day 1 with a keynote speech about his current plans for Zabbix’s development, including a detailed look at enhancements requested by users.

Avoiding alert fatigue

Bringing a less technical and more conceptual approach to addressing day-to-day data monitoring issues, Rihards Olups, SaaS Architect at Nokia, discussed alert fatigue and how science explains it. During his presentation, Rihards showed how an excess of alerts can negatively affect selective attention and shared his thoughts about how professionals can intervene to prevent problems.

Making Zabbix’s latest offerings accessible to everyone

Day 2 began with Zabbix Director of Business Development Sergey Sorokin focusing on new plans and offerings, including a subscription system for technical support, consulting services, and monitoring tailored for managed service providers.

Monitoring everything (and we do mean everything!)

Janne Pikkarainen, Lead Site Reliability Engineer at Forcepoint, provided detailed and entertaining insights into how he connects Zabbix to smart accessories and uses it to monitor aspects of his home, including the location of personal items, noise levels, and even the frequency of his daughter’s naps and cries.

Implementing ideas and design in MSP environments

In tackling the topic of data collection and analysis for service providers, Brian van Baekel, Zabbix Trainer at Opensource ICT Solutions, presented details on the development of projects focused on monitoring service providers. He also highlighted best practices for data collection in Zabbix Server, data storage, and presenting on the Zabbix Frontend.

Monitoring the London transportation system

A use case presented by Nathan Liefting, Zabbix Consultant and Trainer at Opensource ICT Solutions, and Adan Mohamed, DevOps Manager at Boldyn Networks, showed how Zabbix monitors the availability of the London Underground subway system. Data is collected from 136 “tube” stations in a high-level architecture and used to assess the availability of Wi-Fi networks, emergency connections, and other services.

Bringing the Olympics and World Cup to life with Zabbix

Marianna Portela, a Tech Lead at Globo in Brazil, shared her insights into how Zabbix supports Globo’s digital transformation and helps her monitor live event infrastructure at massive events like the Olympics and World Cup.

Don’t forget the fun part!

Zabbix Summits are renowned for their friendly, informal atmosphere, which is probably most clearly on display at our famous Summit parties.

Zabbix Summit 2023’s Welcome party was held at the Stargorod Riga brewery in the heart of Riga’s old town. It featured arm wrestling, a selection of delicious foods and beverages, and plenty of opportunities for Summit participants to get to know each other.

The Main party saw live music, dancing, quizzes, and other fun events take place within the historic confines of the Latvian Railway History Museum. The atmosphere, food, drinks, and good company all combined to create an event that nobody who attended will soon forget!

Last but not least, the Closing party at the Burzma food hall was a true celebration of the diversity of the global Zabbix community, with food and music from every country with a Zabbix presence as well as plenty of opportunities for Summit attendees to swap stories and exchange contact details.

Open door, open minds

The traditional Zabbix open-door day was held on Thursday, October 5, and while past Summits have typically seen around 50 visitors, we were proud to welcome closer to 100 this time around. Attendees could have a coffee with their favorite Zabbix employees, play a friendly game of foosball or table tennis, and get a behind-the-scenes look at where the magic happens.

Testify!

One new feature that made a big splash at this year’s Summit was the testimonial booth, which allowed Summit attendees to share their thoughts and experiences about Zabbix with the rest of our community. Sharing a testimonial or leaving a review allowed attendees to collect a piece of exclusive Zabbix Summit 2023 merchandise, and we went through a lot of it – the booth provided us with 28 filmed and 17 written testimonials about Zabbix products and services, far more than we anticipated.

Where to find the presentations

If you couldn’t attend but want to stay informed about what was discussed at the event (or if you’d just like to revisit the stage presentations), both days of recordings are available on Zabbix’s YouTube channel at the following links:

Streaming – Zabbix Summit Day 1

Streaming – Zabbix Summit Day 2

The graphics and texts of the presentations are also available for reference and download on the official event website.

We hope that Zabbix Summit 2023 was a time of valuable learning, connections, and idea exchange for everyone who attended or followed along through social media. If you’ve enjoyed the photos, you can see several more on our Instagram.

If you had an amazing time at Zabbix Summit 2023 (and we certainly hope you did), registration for Zabbix Summit 2024 is already open and Early Bird tickets are available.

See you next year!

 

The post A Look Back at Zabbix Summit 2023 appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

The Zabbix Advantage for Business

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/the-zabbix-advantage-for-business/26497/

CIOs and CITOs know all too well that a smoothly functioning network is the backbone of any business. Your network has to guarantee reliability, performance, and security. An unreliable network, by contrast, means damaged productivity, negative customer perceptions, and haphazard security. The solution is network monitoring, and in this post we’ll explore the reasons why Zabbix is the ideal monitoring solution for any business.

What is network monitoring?

Network monitoring is a critical IT process where all networking components (as well as key performance indicators like CPU utilization and network bandwidth) are constantly monitored to improve performance and eliminate bottlenecks. It provides real-time information that network administrators need to determine whether a network is running optimally.

Why Zabbix?

At Zabbix, we’re here to help you deliver for your customers, flawlessly and without interruptions. Our monitoring solution is 100% open source, available in over 20 languages, and able to collect an unlimited amount of data. Designed with enterprise requirements in mind, Zabbix provides a comprehensive, “single pane of glass” view of any size environment. Put simply, Zabbix allows you to monitor anything – from physical and virtual servers or containers to network infrastructure, applications, and cloud services.

What’s more, we offer a wide variety of additional professional services to go along with our solution, including:

  • Multiple technical support subscriptions that are tailored to the needs of your business
  • Certified training programs that are designed to help you master Zabbix under the guidance of top experts
  • A wide range of professional services, including template building, upgrades, consulting, and more

Keep reading to find out more about the difference Zabbix can make for your business.

The Zabbix advantage

IT teams are under enormous pressure to have their networks functioning perfectly 100% of the time, and with good reason. It’s simply not possible to run a business with a malfunctioning network. Here are 5 key reasons why you need to make network monitoring a top priority, and why Zabbix is the right answer for all of them.

Reliability

A network monitoring solution’s main reason for being is to show whether a device is working or not. Taking a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy network will keep tech support requests and downtime to an absolute minimum. Zabbix makes it easy to do so by automatically detecting problem states in your metric flow. Not only that, but our automated predictive functions can also help you react proactively. They do this by forecasting a value for early alerting and predicting the time left until you reach a problem threshold. Automation then allows you to remove additional inefficiencies.

Visibility

Having complete visibility of all your hardware and software assets allows you to easily monitor the health of your network. Zabbix lets businesses access metrics, issues, reports, and maps with a single click, allowing you to:

  • Analyze and correlate your metrics with easy-to-read graphs
  • Track your monitoring targets on an interactive geo-map
  • Display the statuses of your elements together with real-time data to get a detailed overview of your infrastructure on a Zabbix map
  • Generate scheduled PDF reports from any Zabbix dashboard
  • Extend the native Zabbix frontend functionality by developing your own frontend widgets and modules

Performance

By making it easy to monitor anything, Zabbix lets you know which parts of your network are being properly used, overused, or underused. This can help you uncover unnecessary costs that can be eliminated or identify a network component that needs upgrading.

Compliance

Today’s IT teams need to meet strict regulatory and protection standards in increasingly complex networks. Zabbix can spot changes in normal system behavior and unusual data flow. It can then either leverage multiple messaging channels to notify your team about anomalies or simply resolve any issues automatically.

Profitability

Zabbix has an extensive track record of making businesses more productive by saving network management time and lowering operating costs. Servers, for example, are machines that inevitably break down from time to time. Being able to quickly re-launch after a failure has occurred and minimizing the server downtime are vital. By making sure your team is aware of any and all current and impending issues, Zabbix can reduce downtime and increase the productivity and efficiency of your business.

Zabbix across industries

Whatever field you’re in, there’s no substitute for consistent, problem-free service when it comes to gaining the trust and loyalty of customers. Zabbix has an extensive track record of helping clients in multiple industries achieve their goals.

Zabbix for healthcare

A typical hospital relies on tens of thousands of connected devices. Manually checking each one for anomalies simply isn’t practical. Establishing a stable service level is a vital issue in most industries, but in healthcare it’s literally a matter of life and death. With Zabbix, hospital IT teams receive potentially life-saving alerts if anything is out of the ordinary.

What’s more, Zabbix can monitor progress toward expected outcomes, providing up-to-the-minute statistics on data errors or IT system failures. Issues, response times, and potential bottlenecks are displayed in easy-to-read graphs and charts. This allows hospital staff to follow up on the presence or absence of problems.

Zabbix for banking and finance

Financial institutions of all sizes rely on their networks to maintain connectivity and productivity. By processing millions of checks per minute and considering very complex dependencies between different elements of infrastructure, Zabbix allows banks to proactively detect and resolve network problems before they turn into major business disruptions.

Zabbix is also designed to seamlessly connect distributed architecture, including remote offices, branches, and even individual ATMs. Some of our financial industry clients previously used up to 20 different monitoring tools. Each alert sent hundreds of emails to different people, making it impossible to effectively monitor the environment. Naturally, they found Zabbix’s ability to monitor many thousands of devices and “single pane of glass” view to be a significant upgrade.

Zabbix for education

In an age of digital course materials and resources, schools and universities can’t operate without functioning IT infrastructures. Our clients in education typically have heterogeneous infrastructures with thousands of servers and clients. They also possess all kinds of connected devices, dozens of different operating systems, multiple locations, and hundreds of IT staff.

Zabbix has proven itself to be a simple, cost-effective method of monitoring geographically distributed campuses and educational sites. We’ve done this by:

  • Providing early notification of possible viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other transmitters of system infection
  • Monitoring IT systems for intellectual property (IP) protection purposes
  • Saving human resources by reducing manual work

Zabbix for government

Network monitoring is critical for government agencies, as downtime can bring a halt to vital public services. Our public-sector clients range from city-wide public transportation companies all the way up to entire prefectures. They use Zabbix to monitor the availability of utilities, transport, lighting, and many other public services.

In the process, Zabbix increases the effectiveness of budget expenditures by providing precise and accountable data on how public resources are used. This makes it easier to justify further expenditures. In most business software, agents are required for each monitored host and costs increase in proportion to the number of monitored hosts. By contrast, Zabbix is open source and the software itself is free of charge, resulting in anticipated cost reductions of up to 25% in many cases.

Zabbix for retail

Retail environments increasingly depend on network-connected equipment, particularly when it comes to warehouse monitoring and tracking SKUs (stock keeping units). Zabbix delivers an all-in-one tool to monitor different applications, metrics, processes, and equipment while providing a complete picture about the availability and performance of all the components that make a retail business successful. This makes it possible for retailers to easily automate store openings and closings, monitor cash machines, and keep track of access system log entries.

Not only that, the quantity and quality of information that Zabbix collects makes it easy for retailers to conduct a more accurate analysis of what is happening (or what may happen) and take preventive measures. Our retail clients find that having this level of control over their resources and services increases the confidence of their teams as well as their customers.

Zabbix for telecom

Internet, telephony, and television verticals require availability and consistency. The key to success is providing your services 24/7/365.

Zabbix makes this possible by providing full visibility of all network and customer devices, allowing operators to know of any outage before customers do and take necessary actions. Some of our telecommunications clients are able to effortlessly monitor well over 100,000 devices with a single Zabbix server. This helps them improve the customer experience and driving growth in the process.

Zabbix for aerospace

In the aerospace industry, timely data delivery and issue notification are the keys to safe operations. Aircraft depend on complex electronic systems that can diagnose the slightest deviations and make malfunctions known. Unfortunately, this is often in the form of either an indicator light on an instrument panel or a log message that is accessible only with specialized software or tools.

With Zabbix, all data transfers from the aircraft’s diagnostic system to the responsible employees can happen automatically. Error prioritization and escalation to further levels can also happen automatically if any aircraft has an ongoing issue that remains active for multiple days.

Conclusion

At Zabbix, our goal is a world without interruptions, powered by a world-class universal monitoring solution that’s available and affordable to any business. Our open-source software allows you to monitor your entire IT stack, no matter what size your infrastructure is or where it’s hosted.

That’s why government institutions across the globe as well as some of the world’s largest companies trust us with their network monitoring needs.

Get in touch with us to learn more and get started on the path to maximum efficiency and uptime today!

 

The post The Zabbix Advantage for Business appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

Troubleshooting Zabbix Agent with Wireshark

Post Syndicated from Markku Leiniö original https://blog.zabbix.com/troubleshooting-zabbix-agent-with-wireshark/26514/

A variety of tools exist that can be used to troubleshoot different Zabbix components. In this article I will demonstrate how Wireshark can be used to rule out network connectivity issues as the root cause of data collection problems.

A user has a Zabbix agent that collects the used disk space information on a host. The item interval is one minute:

List of agent items

However, the user complains that Zabbix fails to collect the data appropriately, as the graph has empty areas with occasional dots:

Graph of used disk space

In Zabbix implementations with very high NVPS (new values per second) this may indicate some kind of performance problem where not all data is collected or saved to the database properly. However, that does not seem likely in this particular setup as there are only a couple of hosts and items configured and the NVPS value is under 2.

One question to ask whenever data is missing from Zabbix is: Did the data even arrive to the Zabbix server? If all the data never arrived, it is quite natural that there won’t be full data in the graphs or in the database.

As a networking professional one of the tools I always have at hand is Wireshark, the world-famous protocol analyzer (that just had its 25th anniversary!). Starting from Wireshark version 4.1.0, which is the current development release for the upcoming 4.2.0 stable release, it has built-in support for Zabbix protocol. This means that if you have a network capture of Zabbix agent or proxy traffic, you can analyze the Zabbix traffic contents using Wireshark. Previously this was possible also using manually-installed Lua-based scripts, but I was able to write the same functionality in C language and it was quickly accepted in the official Wireshark codebase as well.

Starting from Zabbix version 4.0, all of the traffic between Zabbix server and Zabbix proxies as well as Zabbix agent 2 traffic is compressed to save bandwidth and improve performance. The Zabbix protocol dissector in Wireshark is able to automatically decompress any compressed Zabbix traffic so that application-level analysis is possible. TLS-encrypted Zabbix protocol traffic is also supported if the session keys are available. I’ll write another post about that later.

In this example case I will use Wireshark to confirm that the agent really collects the disk space usage data and sends it to the server.

Note: Zabbix components (server, proxies, agents) are well-known for their stable network communications. They don’t just pretend to send data, so if they really have problems communicating, they should log those events in their own log files. The components also just do whatever they are configured to do, so usually the roots of any item-collecting problems are found by just checking the Zabbix logs and configurations. In this post I still want to highlight one network-centric way to troubleshoot Zabbix-related issues.

I’ll start by capturing the agent traffic on the server, as the agent is communicating directly with the server, not via a Zabbix proxy. On the Zabbix server I will use sudo tcpdump -v port 10051 -w zabbix-traffic.pcap command to start the capture and see its progress.

I will then restart the Zabbix agent using sudo systemctl restart zabbix-agent2 command (on the agent host, this is a Linux host with Zabbix agent 2).

After capturing traffic for a few minutes I’ll stop the capture with Ctrl-C on the server:

markku@zabbix-server:~$ sudo tcpdump -v port 10051 -w zabbix-traffic.pcap
tcpdump: listening on ens192, link-type EN10MB (Ethernet), snapshot length 262144 bytes
^C958 packets captured
958 packets received by filter
0 packets dropped by kernel
markku@zabbix-server:~$

If you want to test the following steps yourself, you can download the capture file here:

After copying the capture file to my workstation I can open it in Wireshark:

Wireshark window with default view

This is still the default Wireshark profile, but I’ll right-click the Profile: Default text in the bottom right corner, select New, and create a new profile called “Zabbix” to continue with some adjustments. (For more information about configuring Wireshark to fit your taste, see my earlier post on my personal blog about customizing Wireshark settings.)

In the display filter field I’ll first type “zabbix” and press Enter.

Note: If your Wireshark does not recognize the “zabbix” display filter, check that you are running Wireshark version 4.1.0 or newer to support Zabbix protocol dissection, as mentioned earlier in this post.

I’ll expand the Zabbix tree in the lower half of the screen to see the Zabbix-specific fields:

Wireshark window with Zabbix protocol tree opened

I’ll drag the “Agent name: Zabbix70-agent” field to the column headings to add it as a column:

Zabbix agent column added in the packet list in Wireshark

Now I have the agent name conveniently visible in the packet list. The same can be done for any other field as needed. Instead of dragging and dropping the fields, you can also right-click any of the fields and select Apply as column.

I will now filter the packet list based on the agent name, and since the problem agent “Zabbix70-agent” is already visible in the list, I can just drag the agent name into the display filter as “zabbix.agent.name == "Zabbix70-agent"“:

Packet list filtered by the agent name

Now, the original issue is that I want to ensure that the agent really sends the monitored data to Zabbix server, so let’s check one of the “Zabbix Send agent data” packets:

Zabbix protocol packet with data

This is Zabbix agent 2 so the packet is compressed, but as you notice Wireshark automatically uncompressed and showed the contents for me.

The JSON data is a bit hard to read there in the packet bytes pane, but I can right-click the “Data [truncated]” field and select Show packet bytes to see it better:

Wireshark's Show packet bytes window

In the Show as dropdown list there is a selection for JSON to show it even better:

JSON data in Show packet bytes window

So, what does it show us? It shows that in this particular packet there are two data values sent, one for item ID 45797 and one for item ID 45738, with appropriate Unix-style timestamps (clock).

But how do we find out the item ID for the disk usage item?

You can find it in the Zabbix frontend GUI when editing the item: the item ID is shown in the browser address bar as itemid=45797.

But, since we have Wireshark at hand, we can also check the agent config packets that the server sent to the agent. First, add “and zabbix.agent.config and zabbix.response” in the display filter:

Zabbix agent config packet in Wireshark

Most of the responses just contain {"response":"success"} to indicate that there were no changes in the configuration (this is the new incremental configuration update feature in Zabbix protocol since Zabbix version 6.4), but since we restarted the agent during the capture, we have a full agent configuration in one of the responses (the one packet that is larger than the others, packet #36). In that packet there is:

Zabbix agent config data in JSON

So there we see that the item ID corresponding to the vfs.fs.size[/,used] key is 45797.

(In this demo agent we only had two items configured, so the output was very short. In practical cases you certainly have many more items configured.)

Ok, after that small detour, let’s try to filter the agent data packets based on the item ID using display filter:

zabbix.agent.name == "Zabbix70-agent" and zabbix.agent.data and zabbix.data contains "45797"

Agent data filtered with item ID

The “zabbix.data contains” filter is very simple in this example, you may get additional (false) matches in some more complicated cases, so be sure to check your results and adjust the filter as needed.

In this case we got six packets in the list (the capture length was about six minutes). When checking the data field contents more closely, we can see that the agent really sent the server the item values once every minute as configured. The values in the packets are (I copied the clock field from each packet separately and converted to local time using Epoch converter site):

Packet number “value” for itemid 45797 “clock” for itemid 45797 Absolute local time
(from “clock”)
14 1394282496 1690631357 14:49:17
182 1394290688 1690631417 14:50:17
330 1394290688 1690631477 14:51:17
508 1394290688 1690631537 14:52:17
676 1394290688 1690631597 14:53:17
834 1394290688 1690631657 14:54:17

But, when checking the same timespan in the item latest values in Zabbix frontend, there is only one value:

Item values in Latest data

Thus, our collected evidence shows that the Zabbix agent did its configured job properly and it sent the disk usage information every minute to Zabbix server, but Zabbix server decided for some reason to discard some of the values.

In this example the saved value 1394290688 (at 14:50:17) is especially interesting, because the previous value was different (1394282496). The next collected values are the same, and they weren’t saved.

Let’s see the item configuration more carefully:

Item configuration screen

In the top of the screen there is a hint: “Preprosessing 1”, meaning that there is one preprocessing step configured for this item. Let’s open that tab:

Item preprocessing configuration screen

Aha! There is a preprocessing step that says: Discard unchanged with heartbeat: 5 minutes.

It means that whenever Zabbix server receives a value it compares it to the previously saved value, and if the value is the same as earlier, it doesn’t save it, unless the specified heartbeat time has elapsed since the last saved value.

This preprocessing rule is frequently used for items whose values aren’t changing that often, because this can dramatically reduce the database size while still enabling Zabbix to quickly react to changes.

So in this case there wasn’t any problem in the system. The configured behavior just didn’t match the user’s expectations.

Finally, some key takeaways when considering using Wireshark for Zabbix protocol troubleshooting in the application level:

  • Ensure that you capture in the correct place to get the expected data in the capture. In this example I captured on the Zabbix server, but since I was only interested in a single agent, I could have also captured on that agent host, using whatever tool is appropriate for the operating system (like tcpdump, Wireshark, tshark, or see also my post about using Packet Monitor on Windows). Or, if there are capable network devices like firewalls in the path, maybe they can be used for capturing as well (check with your network team).
  • Ensure that you capture with a suitable capture filter. In case of Zabbix protocol the interesting TCP (Transmission Control Protocol, the transport protocol on which Zabbix protocol runs) port is usually 10051, but if you are using Zabbix agents in passive mode (where server/proxy connects to the agents), then you need to also capture TCP port 10050. Also, in your Zabbix setup the ports may have been reconfigured to something else, so check the Zabbix configurations if unsure.
  • When looking at the Zabbix protocol captures in Wireshark, experiment with the display filters to find out exactly what you are looking for. When you type “zabbix.” (with the dot) in the display filter, Wireshark will automatically suggest you all possible Zabbix protocol fields that can be used in the filter. The field names are also shown in the status bar when you click on the fields.
  • Also, be aware of the fact that if your Zabbix components won’t talk to each other at all because of some misconfiguration or connectivity error, the Zabbix protocol display filter won’t show you anything in Wireshark. In those cases you need to resort to other ways of troubleshooting, maybe looking for any TCP-level issues in the captures.
  • Practice! See what the Zabbix traffic (or any other network traffic) looks like when everything works. If you can, try to cause some errors in a testing environment (pull some cable out, disable the firewall rule, stop the server, etc.), and see how it then looks in your captures.

This post was originally published on the author’s blog.

The post Troubleshooting Zabbix Agent with Wireshark appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

What is Server Monitoring? Everything You Need to Know

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/what-is-server-monitoring-everything-you-need-to-know/26617/

Servers are the foundation of a company’s IT infrastructure, and the cost of server downtime can include anything from days without system access to the loss of important business data. This can lead to operational issues, service outages, and steep repair costs.

Viewed against this backdrop, server monitoring is an investment with massive benefits to any organization. The latest generation of server monitoring tools make it easier to assess server health and deal with any underlying issues as quickly and painlessly as possible.

What are servers, and how do they work?

Servers are computers (or applications) that run software services for other computers or devices on a network. The computer takes requests from the client computers or devices and performs tasks in response to the requests. These tasks can involve processing data, providing content, or performing calculations. Some servers are dedicated to hosting web services, which are software services offered on any computer connected to the internet.

What is server monitoring? Why does it matter?

Servers are some of the most important pieces of any company’s IT infrastructure. If a server is offline, running slowly, or experiencing outages, website performance will be affected and customers may decide to go elsewhere. If an internal file server is generating errors, important business data like accounting files or customer records could be compromised.

A server monitoring system is designed to watch your systems and provide a number of key metrics regarding their operation. In general, server monitoring software tests for accessibility (making sure that the server is alive and can be reached) and response time (guaranteeing that it is running fast enough to keep users happy). What’s more, it sends notifications about missing or corrupt files, security violations, and other issues.

Server monitoring is most often used for processing data in real time, but quality server monitoring is also predictive, letting users know when disks will reach capacity and whether memory or CPU utilization is about to be throttled. By evaluating historical data, it’s possible to find out if a server’s performance is degrading over time and even predict when a complete crash might occur.

How can server monitoring help businesses?

Here are a few of the most important business benefits of server monitoring:

Server monitoring tools give you a bird’s-eye view of your server’s health and performance

A quality server monitoring tool keeps IT administrators aware of metrics like CPU usage, RAM, disk space, and network bandwidth. This helps them to see when servers are slowing down or failing, allowing them to act before users are affected.

Server monitoring simplifies process automation

IT teams have long checklists when it comes to managing servers. They need to monitor hard disk space, keep an eye on infrastructure, schedule system backups, and update antivirus software. They also need to be able to foresee and solve critical events, while managing any disruptions.

A server monitoring tool helps IT professionals by automating all or many aspects of these jobs. It can show whether a backup was successful, if software is patched, and whether a server is in good condition. This allows IT teams to focus on tasks that benefit more from their involvement and expertise.

Server monitoring makes it easier to retain customers as well as employees

Acting quickly when servers develop issues (or even before) makes sure that employee workflows aren’t disrupted, allowing them to perform their duties, see results, and reach their goals. It also guarantees a positive customer experience by providing early notification of any issues.

Server monitoring keeps costs down

By automating processes and tasks (and freeing up time in the process) server monitoring systems make the most of resources and reduce costs. And by solving potential issues before they affect the organization, they help businesses avoid lost revenue from unfinished employee tasks, operational delays, and unfinished purchases.

What should you look for in a server monitoring solution?

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of server monitoring, you’ll want to choose the server monitoring solution that’s right for you. Here are a few capabilities to keep in mind:

Ease of use

Does the solution include an intuitive dashboard that makes it easy to monitor events and react to problems quickly? It should, and it should also allow you to make the most of the data it exports by providing graphs, reports, and integrations.

Customer support

Is it easy to contact support? How quickly do they respond? A quality server monitoring solution will provide a defined SLA and stick to it with no exceptions.

Breadth of coverage

A good solution will support all the server types (hardware, software, on-premises, cloud) that your enterprise uses. It should also be flexible enough to support any server types you may implement in the future.

Alert management

There are a few important questions to ask when it comes to alerts:

  • Does the solution include a dashboard or display that makes it easy to track events and react to problems quickly?
  • Is it easy to set up alerts via the configuration of thresholds that trigger them? How are alerts delivered?
  • Does the solution have a way to help you determine why a problem has occurred, instead of just telling you that something has gone wrong without context?

What are some best practices to keep in mind?

Here are a few best practices that will help you avoid the more common server monitoring pitfalls:

Proactively check for failures

Keep a sharp eye out for any issues that may affect your software or hardware. The tools included with a good monitoring solution can alert you to errors caused by a corrupted database (for example) and let you know if a security incident has left important services disabled.

Don’t forget your historical data

Server problems rarely occur in a vacuum, so look into the context of issues that emerge. You can do that by exploring metrics across a specific period, typically between 30 to 90 days. For example, you may find that CPU temperature has increased within the past week, which may suggest a problem with a server cooling system.

Operate your hardware in line with recommended tolerance levels

File servers are commonly pushed to the limit, rarely getting a break. That’s why it’s important to monitor metrics like CPU utilization, RAM utilization, storage capacity usage, and CPU temperature. Check these metrics regularly to identify issues before it’s too late.

Keep track of alerts

Always monitor your alerts in real time as they occur and explore reliable ways to manage and prioritize them. When escalating an incident, make sure it goes to the right individual as soon as possible.

Use server monitoring data to plan short-term cloud capacity

Server monitoring systems can help you plan the right computing power for specific moments. If services become slower or users experience other problems with performance, an IT manager can assess the situation through the server monitor. They’ll then be able to allocate extra resources to solve the problem.

Take advantage of capacity planning

Data center workloads have almost doubled in the past 5 years, and servers have had to keep up with this ongoing change. Analyzing long-term server utilization trends can prepare you for future server requirements.

Go beyond asset management

With server monitoring, you can discover which systems are approaching the end of their lives and whether any assets have disappeared from your network. You can also let your server monitoring tool handle the heavy lifting for you when it comes to tracking physical hardware.

The Zabbix Advantage

Zabbix is designed to make server monitoring easy. Our solution allows you to track any possible server performance metrics and incidents, including server performance, availability, and configuration changes.

Intuitive dashboards, network graphs, and topology maps allow you to visualize server performance and availability, and our flexible alerting allows for multiple delivery methods and customized message content.

Not only that, our out-of-the-box templates come with preconfigured items, triggers, graphs, applications, screens, low-level discovery rules, and web scenarios – all designed to have you up and running in just a few minutes.

And because Zabbix is open-source, it’s not just affordable, it’s free. Contact us to find out more and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your servers are under control.

FAQ

Why do we need server monitoring?

Server monitoring allows IT professionals to:

  • Monitor the responsiveness of a server
  • Know a server’s capacity, user load, and speed
  • Proactively detect and prevent any issues that might affect the server

Why do companies choose to monitor their servers?

Companies monitor servers so that they can:

  • Proactively identify any performance issues before they impact users
  • Understand a server’s system resource usage
  • Analyze a server for its reliability, availability, performance, security, etc.

How is server monitoring done?

Server monitoring tools constantly collect system data across an entire IT infrastructure, giving administrators a clear view of when certain metrics are above or below thresholds. They also automatically notify relevant parties if a critical system error is detected, allowing them to act in a timely manner to resolve issues.

What should you monitor on a server?

Key areas to monitor on a server include:

  • A server’s physical status
  • Server performance, including CPU utilization, memory resources, and disk activity
  • Server uptime
  • Page file usage
  • Context switches
  • Time synchronization
  • Process activity
  • Server capacity, user load, and speed

If I want to monitor a server, how easy is it to set things up?

Setting up a server monitoring tool is easy, provided you’ve taken into account these 5 steps:

  • Assess and create a monitoring plan
  • Discover how data can be collected
  • Define any and all metrics
  • Set up alerts
  • Have an established workflow

The post What is Server Monitoring? Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

What is Network Monitoring? Everything You Need to Know

Post Syndicated from Michael Kammer original https://blog.zabbix.com/what-is-network-monitoring-everything-you-need-to-know/26539/

Your company’s network is the glue that bonds your enterprise together. The technology of networking is growing more stable and reliable all the time, but it doesn’t mean you can leave your network unattended – quality network monitoring is an absolute must-have.

What are network monitoring systems?

At its most basic, network monitoring is a critical IT process where all networking components (as well as key performance indicators like network hardware CPU utilization and network bandwidth) are continuously and proactively monitored to improve performance, eliminate bottlenecks, and prevent network congestion and downtime.

Put more simply, it’s the act of keeping an eye on all the connected elements that are relevant to your business. That means all your hardware and software resources, including routers, switches, firewalls, servers, PCs, printers, phones, and tablets.

A network monitoring system is a set of software tools that lets you program this action. It allows you to constantly monitor your network infrastructure by doing systematic tests to look for issues and notifying you if any are found. A good system makes monitoring your network easy by:

  • Allowing you to see all information in dashboards
  • Generating reports on demand
  • Sending alerts
  • Displaying the monitoring data you need in easy-to-read graphs

What are some key benefits of network monitoring?

A quality network monitoring solution allows you to:

Benchmark standard performance

Monitoring gives you the visibility to benchmark your network’s everyday performance. It also makes it easy to spot any fluctuations in performance, which in turn allows you to identify any unwanted changes.

Effectively allocate resources

IT teams need a clear understanding of the source of problems. They also need the ability to minimize tedious troubleshooting and put in place proactive measures to stay ahead of IT outages. To use a plumbing analogy, monitoring lets them fix cracks before a leak happens.

Identify security threats

Preventing security breaches is a major challenge for any organization. As attacks become increasingly more sophisticated and difficult to trace, detecting and mitigating any form of network threat before it escalates is critical. Network monitoring makes it easier to protect data and systems by providing early warning of any suspicious anomalies.

Manage a changing IT environment

New technologies like internet-enabled sensors, wireless devices, and cloud technologies make it harder for IT teams to track performance fluctuations or suspicious activity. A network monitoring solution can:

  • Give IT teams a comprehensive inventory of wired and wireless devices
  • Make it easy to analyze long-term trends
  • Help you get the most out of your available assets

Proactively detect and resolve issues before they affect users

Monitoring a network closely allows an organization to quickly resolve issues and prevent major disruptions. This means fewer interruptions to operations and better utilization of IT resources.

Deploy new technology and system upgrades successfully

Thanks to monitoring, IT teams can learn how equipment has performed over time and use trend analysis to see whether current technology can scale to meet business needs. This can:

  • Give a clear picture of whether a network is able to support the launch of a new technology
  • Mitigate any risks associated with a major change
  • Easily demonstrate ROI by providing comprehensive metrics

What are some different types of network monitoring?

Different types of monitoring exist depending on what exactly needs to be monitored. Some of the most common include fault monitoring, log monitoring, network performance monitoring, configuration monitoring, and availability monitoring.

Fault monitoring

As the name suggests, fault monitoring involves finding and reporting faults in a computer network. It is crucial for maintaining uninterrupted network uptime and is essential to keeping all programs and services running smoothly.

Log monitoring

Resources such as servers, applications, and websites continuously generate logs, which can:

  • Provide valuable insights into user activity
  • Help a business comply with regulations
  • Promptly resolve incidents
  • Boost network security

Network performance monitoring (NPM)

NPM tracks monitoring parameters like latency, network traffic, bandwidth usage, and throughput, with the goal of optimizing user experience. NPM tools provide valuable information that can be used to minimize downtime and troubleshoot network issues.

Configuration monitoring

Monitoring network configuration involves keeping track of the software and firmware in use on the network and making sure that any inconsistencies are identified and addressed. This prevents any gaps in visibility or security.

Network availability monitoring

Availability monitoring is the monitoring of all IT infrastructure to determine the uptime of devices. By consistently monitoring devices and servers, organizations can receive alerts when there is a network crash or when a device becomes unavailable. ICMP, SNMP, and Syslogs are the most commonly used availability monitoring techniques.

How does it work?

Network monitoring uses multiple techniques to test the availability and functionality of a network. Here are a few of the most common techniques used to collect data for monitoring software:

Ping

A ping is the simplest technique that monitoring software uses to test hosts within a network. The monitoring system sends out a signal and records:

  • Whether the signal was received,
  • How long it took the host to receive the signal
  • Whether any signal data was lost

That data is then used to determine:

  • Whether the host is active
  • How efficient the host is
  • The transmission time and packet loss experienced when communicating with the host
  • Any other vital information

Simple network management protocol (SNMP)

SNMP is the most widely used protocol for modern network management systems. It uses monitoring software to monitor individual devices in a network. In this system, each monitored device has SNMP agent monitoring software that sends information about the device’s performance to the monitoring solution, which collects this information in a database and then analyzes it for errors.

Syslog

Syslog is an automated messaging system that sends messages when an event affects a network device. Technicians can set up devices to send out messages when the device encounters an error, shuts down unexpectedly, encounters a configuration failure, and more. These messages often contain information that can be used for system management as well as security systems.

Scripts

Scripts are simple programs that collect basic information and instruct the network to perform an action within certain conditions. They can fill gaps in monitoring software functionality, performing scheduled tasks such as resetting and reconfiguring a public access computer every night.

Scripts can also be used to collect data, sending out an alert if results don’t fall within certain thresholds. Network managers will usually set these thresholds, programming the network software to send out an alert if data indicates issues, including:

  • Slow throughput
  • High error rates
  • Unavailable devices
  • Slower-than-usual response times

How can businesses benefit from network monitoring?

Here are 5 ways that quality network monitoring can benefit any business:

Increased reliability

The main function of any monitoring solution is to show whether a device is working or not. A proactive approach to maintaining a healthy network will keep tech support requests and downtime to an absolute minimum.

Improved visibility

Having complete visibility of all your hardware and software assets allows you to easily monitor the health of your network. Monitoring tracks the data moving along cables and through servers, switches, connections, and routers. In the event of a problem, your IT team can identify the root cause and fix the issue quickly.

Enhanced performance

Network monitoring software lets you know which parts of your network are being properly used, overused, or underused. You can also uncover unnecessary costs that can be eliminated or identify a network component that needs upgrading.

Stricter compliance

Today’s IT teams need to meet strict regulatory and protection standards in increasingly complex networks. The latest compliance guidelines recommend actively watching for changes in normal system behavior and unusual data flow. The data provided by monitoring tools makes it easy to assess your entire system and deliver a service that meets all required standards.

Greater profitability

Network monitoring makes businesses more productive by saving network management time and lowering operating costs. If your team is aware of current and impending issues, you can reduce downtime and increase productivity and efficiency.

The Zabbix advantage

At Zabbix, we’ve perfected an enterprise IT infrastructure monitoring software that can deploy anywhere and monitor any device, system, or app in any environment while providing comprehensive data protection, easy integration, and unlimited visualization options.

You can also count on complete transparency, a predictable release cycle, a vibrant and active user community, and an outstanding user experience.

Everything we do scales easily, so we’re able to grow right along with you. What’s more, we offer a comprehensive range of professional services, including implementation, integration, custom development, consulting services, technical support, and a full suite of training programs.

The best part? Because Zabbix is open-source, it’s not just affordable – it’s free. Get in touch with us to find out more and get started on the path to maximum network efficiency today.

FAQ

What is an example of basic network monitoring?

An example of basic network monitoring is a network engineer collecting real-time data from a data center and setting up alerts when a problem (such as a device failure, a temperature spike, a power outage, or a network capacity issue) appears.

What is network monitoring used for?

Network monitoring can:

• Determine whether a network is running optimally in real time
• Proactively identify deficiencies and optimize efficiency
• Catch and repair problems before they impact operations
• Reduce downtime and make sure employees have access to the resources they need
• Boost the availability of APIs and webpages
• Optimize network performance and availability

What is the most popular network monitoring program?

Some of the most popular network monitoring programs available on the market include:

• Zabbix
• SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
• Auvik
• Datadog
• ManageEngine OpManager
• Site24x7
• Checkmk
• Progress WhatsUp Gold
• Microsoft Resource Monitor
• Wireshark
• Nagios
• Ntop
• Cacti
• FreeNATS
• Icinga

What are the key steps in network monitoring?

A network monitoring process includes all phases involved in executing efficient network monitoring. These phases include:

  • Locating all key network components
  • Actively monitoring the components
  • Creating alerts for component health and metrics
  • Making a plan for managing issues
  • Analyzing generated reports
  • Adjusting the process as necessary

The post What is Network Monitoring? Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Zabbix Blog.

What’s Up, Home? – How to secure your (home) monitoring

Post Syndicated from Janne Pikkarainen original https://blog.zabbix.com/whats-up-home-how-to-secure-your-home-monitoring/26241/

As my home monitoring experiment has become such a celebrity and as it has so much going on, I’m trying to make sure I won’t ever lose its configuration and data, no matter what would happen. Here are some tips and reminders for you, too.

In the IT world, so much can go wrong. Hardware can die, files can become corrupt, malware can hit you, hackers can breach your systems, buggy software updates can cause havoc, you can fat-finger some commands or click on the wrong place and remove data… the list is endless. Here are some ways I’m attempting to protect my home monitoring environment.

Keep software updated

First things first. In today’s malicious world, it’s mandatory that you keep your software updated. With Linux and Zabbix, you don’t have an excuse to skip the updates. Updating your systems is fast and trouble-free. In small environments like home, even major Zabbix upgrades are fast as the database is not very big, so the database migrations that in a corporate environment can take time, will go through in minutes if not faster.

Remember to backup

Keep your backups in good shape. In my case, I do take backups with BackupPC and monitor my backups with Zabbix.

But I don’t trust one environment. What if my BackupPC says Kaboom? A nightly cron job also copies backup archives from my Raspberry Pi to my Mac, which in turn mirrors the backups to my iCloud. And, there’s one more cloud service I’m using for all my backups but not mentioning it here by name.

Test your backups

As long as you have not verified that your backups do actually work, you do not have a working backup. Have a virtual machine into which you can try to restore your backups. See if they work. Test them periodically, either manually or figure out an automated way to do that. 

In the case of Zabbix, you can make your primary Zabbix monitor your test environment, and make Zabbix alert if your restore environment Zabbix suddenly starts responding back something else than the regular login page, or if the restore environment database doesn’t come back with some query response you would expect.

Setup a HA cluster

As any hardware can die, it’s not a bad idea to set up a HA cluster. Last winter I was preparing for potential electricity blackouts here in Finland and did setup my laptop to be a secondary node for my Zabbix. This setup has been working very well.

Use strong passwords

Even if it would only be your sandbox environment where you do test new stuff, please remember to use strong passwords. An evil actor can attempt to breach more targets in your network through a single point of failure.

Use ssh keys

Instead of username + password combination, use ssh keys for ssh authentication. Keys are immune to brute-force attempts and with tuning, ssh keys can also be allowed to only connect from specific IPs and run only specific commands. You know how in your ~/.ssh/authorized_keys the lines do start with something like 

ssh-rsa aZfgT12b(....

but if you modify it to be 

command="/usr/bin/rsync" ssh-rsa aZfgT12b(....

well, then only rsync would be allowed.

Or, for IP address limitation

from="123.123.123.123" ssh-rsa aZfgT12b(....

Of course, these can be combined:

from="123.123.123.123" command="/usr/bin/rsync" ssh-rsa aZfgT12b(....

Obviously, this grants you much more security than traditional logins.

Use HashiCorp Vault

OK, I admit I’m not doing this at home as it would be overkill for my few logins. But, in a larger environment with absolutely critical safety requirements, use HashiCorp Vault for protecting your credentials. Zabbix has native support for it.

Monitor your logs

Setup a centralized log server — it can be your Zabbix server environment, too — and make sure you monitor the logs. My Zabbix gets all my logs, but wouldn’t be a bad idea to use more advanced log monitoring tools, too. Since I already do have ElastiFlow running at home, at some point I might start utilizing Elasticsearch for the logs. Not doing it much yet.

Use chkrootkit, AIDE, others

Tools like AIDE or chkrootkit can help you detect an intrusion. Set them to run in your cron and get alerted in case of any anomalies. Maybe I’ll one day integrate Zabbix with these tools.

Firewall your environment, use VPN

Don’t allow direct access from the Internet to your Zabbix, or your database, or anything really. In my case, my Asus router allows setting up OpenVPN connections, so that’s what I use. Whilst on the go, I just connect to OpenVPN on my phone and do whatever I need remotely through that.

Anything else?

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments.

This post was originally published on the author’s page.

The post What’s Up, Home? – How to secure your (home) monitoring appeared first on Zabbix Blog.