Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

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Zenoss Core 3.x Network and System Monitoring

Zenoss Core 3.x Network and System Monitoring

Implement Zenoss core and fit it into your security management environment using this easy-to-understand tutorial guide.

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We’ll spend the bulk of this article fine-tuning our device inventory and getting it into monitoring shape. One of Zenoss Core’s critical concepts is inheritance, which means that the devices inherit monitoring properties from their parent device class.

We can change the monitoring rules at the device level by tweaking individual device properties, called zProperties.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of Zenoss Core’s organizers.

Organizing devices in Zenoss Core

Zenoss Core provides multiple ways to organize our devices. We’re going to take a closer look at Locations, Systems, Groups, Networks, and Classes. Collectively, these organizers allow us to describe devices in a way that’s meaningful to your organization.

We can define the organizers to be as specific as we need them to be, and not all organizers are required. In other words, no one will care if you do not define any groups. The information that we do specify can be used to establish monitoring rules, event handling, and alerting rules.

Let’s start by adding a location.


Zenoss Core does not include any location organizers by default. To add a location, click on the Infrastructure menu. A list of organizers displays in the left sidebar of the page, as seen in the following screenshot:

Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

Potential location names are floors, buildings, wings, room numbers, or office locations. Use something that’s meaningful to you.

To enter a new location:

  1. Select Locations from the sidebar of organizers.
  2. Click the plus sign (+) at the bottom of the sidebar to Add a child to the selected organizer to display the Add Location dialog:

    Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

  3. Enter the Name of the location, a Description, and an Address.
  4. Click on SUBMIT to add the location:

    Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

Enter anything you think may be important about the location of that device. For example, phone extension, driving directions, or site contacts may be practical items to include in the description.

The real-world address may be something you want to record about a location, especially if you have multiple locations. Zenoss Core provides a separate Address field for each location name that ties into the Google Maps portlet.

The Google Maps portlet displays your locations on a map and connects them for some nice dashboard eye candy. If a marketer happens to come by, be sure to show them the Google Maps portlet. You may make a friend.

We can add as many locations as we need, or we can define a hierarchy of locations by adding a sub-location. To add a sub-location, click on the name of the location from the list and click on the Add a child to the selected organizer button.

Systems and Groups

Groups are closely related to Systems and how you use them is an exercise of your imagination or operational needs. As an example, you might use groups to define nodes on the org chart while the Systems describe the devices in terms of function. In my monitoring environment, I group websites by project manager, so my groups are names of people. I don’t define any “systems” organizers, but you can. There’s no wrong answer.

Systems and Groups are displayed in the same spot as the locations, by clicking on the Infrastructure menu. Adding either a system or a group works the same way, too. Click on either System or Group, and then click the Add a child to the selected organizer button. Enter the Name and Description, as shown in the following screenshot:

Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

Adding a system is the same as adding a group, except that you select the Systems organizer in the sidebar first.

Organizer details

Before we look at classes, let’s take a quick look at how we can work with Locations, Groups, and Systems in the Zenoss Core interface.

You will notice that as you click on an organizer, the device list filters to include all the devices assigned to an organizer. We haven’t assigned any devices to an organizer yet, so the device list is empty. However the following screenshot shows an established Zenoss Core installation:

If you click on the Details button, the sidebar changes to display the following items: Devices, Events, Administration, Map, and Modifications.

Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

If you click on the Events link, you see all the events associated with that organizer.

Click on the Administration link to display a list of commands, maintenance windows, and device administrators.

The Map page displays a map of the location based on the address information you entered for the organizer. The map requires a Google Maps key.

To see a list of changes for the device, click on the Modifications link.

To exit the Details page, click on the See All button.

Editing organizers

You can change the name or description of an organizer by selecting the organizer and then clicking on Edit. You can find the Edit option by clicking on the Actions menu button (which looks like a sprocket) at the bottom of the Infrastructure sidebar. See the following screenshot:

Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

Moving organizers

You can nest organizers by dragging and dropping one organizer into another one to create a hierarchy. You can only nest similar organizers, which means that you cannot move a system into a group or a group into a location.


Classes provide one of the most important organizers in Zenoss Core because we can use the classes to establish monitoring properties for groups of devices. Each device inherits the properties of its parent class. Using classes, we can define specific monitoring rules and settings via zProperties. All devices in a class share the same zProperties.

Classes also define what types of information Zenoss Core collects about a device by assigning a set of collector plugins. Like the zProperties, each class contains a set of collector plugins that can change from one class to another.

The Zenoss Plugins that we install on remote Unix servers are not the same as the collector plugins we configure for our devices.

Several classes exist to organize devices, events, services, and processes based on common groupings, but we’ll stick to talking about devices right now.

Viewing a list of device classes

You have probably already noticed that the list of device classes is available when you click on the Infrastructure menu. Zenoss Core includes a default hierarchy of classes; for now, we’ll work within those default classes.

Next to each class is a number within parenthesis that indicates the number of devices that are associated with the class, including the sub-classes. The icon to the left shows the highest severity event for each class.

Click on the class name to display all the devices assigned to that class.

A devices can only be assigned to one class.

A hierarchical list of the default device classes in Zenoss Core follows. However you can add as many classes as you want.

List of device classes

  • Discovered
  • KVM
  • Network
    • Router
    • Cisco
    • Firewall
    • RSM
    • Terminal Server
    • Switch
  • Ping
  • Power
    • UPS
      • APC
  • Printer
    • InkJet
    • Laser
  • Server
    • Cmd
    • Darwin
    • Linux
    • Remote
    • Scan
    • Solaris
    • Windows

Assigning devices to a class

Depending on how you added devices, you may need to reclassify them. For example, if you auto discovered your network, all the devices in your inventory will be classified as /Discovered. There’s no long term value in that.

To assign devices to a class:

  1. Click on the Infrastructure menu to display a list of all devices.
  2. Select one or more devices.
  3. Drag and drop the selected devices onto the appropriate device class.
  4. Click on OK when prompted to confirm the move.

Zenoss Core 3.x: Device Setup and Administration

The screenshot shows the device named coyote being moved to the /Server/Linux class. Notice that the interface is giving you some feedback. You can only assign a device to one class, so the selected class is highlighted.

The tool tip box in the screenshot is showing 1 selected row, which corresponds to the number of devices you’re adding to the class. In the screenshot, only one device is being moved to /Server/Linux.

After you classify the devices, it’s time to model them.


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