NagiosCon14 Wrap-up

Jason Hand - October 17, 2014


The Nagios World Conference kicked off Tuesday morning with founder, president, and CEO of Nagios, Ethan Galstad (@fatherofnagios) giving us a preview on the company’s future direction and new developments including Nagios Log Server, a commercial solution of E.L.K. Stack.

After a short morning break, Scott Wilkerson, Product Manager of Nagios, gave us a deep dive in to the functionality of Nagios Log Server, which I must say, is really f’ing cool.


Later in the afternoon, VictorOps’ own Mike Merideth (@vo_mike) presented to a very attentive and appreciative audience on The Art & Zen of Managing Nagios with Puppet. Two of the main takeaways from Mike’s talk with regard to Puppet were:

  • Config management becomes living documentation

  • Config management is THE key “enabling” technology of DevOps


It’s also important to note the following:

Managing Nagios configuration will work great if…

  • Your servers have functional names (web1, web2, etc.)
  • Your environment is moderately dynamic
  • Every host and service is managed by Puppet
  • You have 10s or 100s of nodes

Keep looking if…

  • You have a highly elastic environment
  • You have thousands of nodes
  • You have Ad-hoc hosts and services
  • You need instant response to changes

Mike’s efforts on this project have been open-sourced and contributors are very much welcomed.  You can find the repository for this here.


The evening’s social event was a really great riverboat cruise down the Mississippi River where everyone had additional opportunities to dive deeper in to conversations about the days talks and “hallway track” conversations.


For me, the two talks that interested me the most on Wednesday were Dave Josephsen of Librato (@davejosephsen) and Trevor McDonald of Nagios. Dave broke down Graphing Nagios by demonstrating several tools and methods for graphing “the things we care about”.

In addition to a great tool I hadn’t heard of (Grafana), Dave showed us several great examples of four main patterns that are used for the collection of data for graphing.  Those being:

- Centralized polling - Autonomous Agents - The Rollup Pattern - The Emitter / Reporter pattern.

Trevor’s presentation on Monitoring the Physical World with Arduino was an impressive step-by-step guide on how to set up a mini-computer to detect physical changes, such as a window or door opening and then alert us using Nagios.

Additionally, he reminded us that…

_ "If you can open and close a window in a 10th of a second, that’s scary.  You’re a ninja."_

I’m already planning to do something similar at home with my spare Raspberry Pi, Nagios, and VictorOps and can’t wait to find time to dive in.

Later that evening, I was able to break away from the Nagios crowd and visit some DevOps friends in Minneapolis at the local meetup. Mike Bjerkness (@mikebjerkness) of SPS Commerce gave us a run through on using MongoDB on Amazon Web Services.


It was great to see my friends Andy Domeier (@ajdomie) and Bridget Kromhout (@bridgetkromhout) as well as make new ones in Wyatt Walter (@wyattwalter), Jeremy Olexa (@jolexa) and several others in the Minneapolis area that are doing really cool things.

Like Bridget said at DevOpsDays Chicago: “There is no exciting inner circle.  There are only friends you’ve met and friends you haven’t.


The conference winded down on Thursday for me with a presentation by Janice Singh, Systems Engineer for NASA briefing us on _Real World Uses for Nagios APIs. _This was a highly informative talk with several new thoughts on how VictorOps might be able to take advantage of Nagios’ latest APIs. Following that, I caught Spenser Reinhardt’s (@c0mmiebstrd) talk on Docker and honeypots.


After a brief conversation and sharing of notes with the fellas from Canonical (the developers of Ubuntu), including Marco Ceppi (@marcoceppi), Mike and I were on our way back to basecamp to share our notes and implement as much as we can.

NagiosCon14 was the first time I had visited St. Paul and I have to say, I was very impressed not only with the conference, but the entire group in attendance, not to mention the city. While each of the speaking tracks were very informative, some of the most valuable and interesting things I learned came from talking to all of the great attendees during various breaks and Tuesday’s social event.

I look forward to returning again next year.  Until then, keep on monitoring your bad self.