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To predict IT outages and system failure, rigorous monitoring of IT components is required. Monitoring of IT infrastructure helps businesses in ensuring business continuity and high service availability. Monitoring can of two types: agent-based and agentless monitoring. IT experts often debate about which type of monitoring is suitable for their organization. The aim of both agent and agentless monitoring is to boost service availability by reporting incidents in real-time. However, both types of monitoring differ based on cost, implementation, and working.

Understanding agentless monitoring

Agentless monitoring is getting more popular among the monitoring methods. Application performance monitoring via an agentless system uses a designated protocol to collect performance data. In agentless monitoring, the data and information about software systems are forwarded to the central monitoring system. Application performance monitoring without any agent uses protocols like SNMP, WMI, or SSH to collect performance data from software systems.

Agentless monitoring solutions do not need a separate application for collecting the performance data. Vendors integrate built-in features in agentless monitoring solutions that help them in collecting performance data. A software agent is embedded in the monitoring system and, you do not need an external application.

The benefits of agentless monitoring for IT teams:

  • You do not need to deploy a client agent along with the monitoring solution.
  • Since you will pay a small up-front cost for the monitoring solution, you can lower the budget for application performance monitoring in your organization.
  • Agentless monitoring solutions can be easily deployed. No additional resources are required at the time of installation of an agentless monitoring solution.
  • Since no third-party software agents are required, managing an agentless monitoring environment becomes easy.

In the current scenario, more businesses prefer agentless monitoring due to low implementation costs. However, application performance monitoring with an agentless solution can also have some flaws.

The cons of agentless monitoring are listed below:

  • Granular application performance monitoring cannot be performed via agentless monitoring solutions.
  • Agentless monitoring is unable to safeguard applications and software systems from downtime.
  • Agentless monitoring solutions may not be compatible with custom servers.

Understanding agent-based monitoring

Agent-based monitoring solutions are designed for specific systems. A separate vendor-specific software agent needs to be installed alongside the application performance monitoring system. The external software agent allows the monitoring system to collect and analyze from a given system. Many IT teams perform agent-based monitoring for collecting in-depth insights and data from a given system.

Both application performance monitoring techniques have their pros and cons. To understand the differences between agent-based and agentless monitoring, you should understand their pros and cons.

The benefits of agent-based monitoring for IT teams:

  • Agent-based monitoring offers high data granularity. Agent-based monitoring systems offer deep insights into the performance of software systems. IT teams prefer agent-based monitoring for advanced monitoring and system alerting.
  • Agent-based monitoring solutions can perform some automated actions to avoid downtime. IT teams tend to avoid system downtime as it can hamper service availability.
  • Agent-based application performance monitoring offers better service integration. You can collect services from numerous clients and distribute them easily to the client via agent-based monitoring.
  • Application, processes, and services on remote endpoints can be controlled via agent-based monitoring.
  • You are not limited to analyze the performance data based on standard metrics like service availability and observability. Agent-based monitoring solutions let you perform monitoring across many metrics.

The cons of agent-based monitoring are listed below:

  • You will have to deploy an external software system along with your monitoring system in agent-based monitoring. It can increase your budget for application performance monitoring.
  • The external agents deployed for the central monitoring system also need to be updated at frequent intervals.
  • You will also have to pay a significant amount for the license of the agent-based monitoring solution at the time of installation.

Which monitoring technique is the best?

Agent versus agentless monitoring is a common debate that has been around for years. However, the recent advancements in monitoring solutions have proved beneficial for businesses. The latest monitoring systems have a blend of both agent-based and agentless monitoring. The most preferred solution for application performance monitoring is Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps). AIOps can help businesses in performing non-stop application performance monitoring.

Why use AIOps for monitoring?

You need a perfect blend of agent-based and agentless monitoring that can be offered by an AIOps based analytics platform.

The pros of choosing an AIOps based analytics platform for application performance monitoring are as follows:

  • You do not need a separate software agent along with an AIOps based analytics platform. However, it does not imply that you cannot perform application performance monitoring on a granular level. AIOps-based monitoring solutions will provide in-depth performance data and valuable insights.
  • AIOps can help in monitoring higher-level metrics. AIOps-based platforms can monitor virtual or physical IT components easily.
  • Like agent-based monitoring, AIOps can also help in solving downtime issues within the IT infrastructure proactively. If an incidence occurs within the IT infrastructure, AIOps-based platforms provide actionable insights to resolve it quickly.
  • AIOps-based monitoring tools use predictive analytics models to forecasts performance issues and IT outages. Predictive analytics models will study the relationship between different software systems to discover interdependencies.
  • You can perform rigorous application performance monitoring with AIOps without the need for human labor. You will need fewer system administrators as the monitoring process can be automated with AIOps.

In a nutshell

Traditional tools for agent-based and agentless monitoring cannot handle the complexity of modern-day software systems. AI for application monitoring is the only solution to handle the ever-increasing complexity of software systems. Use a blend of agent and agentless monitoring for your organization!

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