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Java applications have been a business mainstay for over a decade. However, like all applications, Java applications sometimes run into issues. When this happens, using a JMX monitoring tool can be the difference between the app being down for an hour or two, and fiddling around with code and settings for days.

JMX tools are easily integrated into a variety of architectures, which makes automating JVM and application server monitoring much easier. With that being said, there are a plethora of JMX monitoring tools on the market today, and not all of them are worth your money.

Today, we’ll take a look at the most popular JMX monitoring tools and pit them against each other to help you find the best JMX monitoring tool for your business.

Here is our list of the best JMX monitoring tools:

  1. Zabbix A free, open-source monitoring software with excellent JMX monitoring capabilities. Zabbix is highly customizable and has a wide, dedicated community constantly working on new plugins, all wrapped up in an easy-to-use interface. To top it all off, the tool encrypts all of your private data to ensure you’re always safe and protected.
  2. Jolokia A swift, easy-to-use alternative to JSR-160 connectors. If you’re looking for a narrow JMX monitoring tool, Jolokia might be just the tool for you.
  3. Hawtio A modular, web-based console whose JMX monitoring capabilities come from being built on top of Jolokia. It’s quite scalable and easy to customize to match your needs.
  4. ManageEngine Applications Manager A paid, comprehensive application management solution with JMX monitoring capabilities and automation features.
  5. Nagios Core And Nagios XI An open-source tool with a paid version, a large community, and holistic monitoring capabilities.
  6. eG Enterprise A highly advanced, enterprise-focused solution providing unparalleled flexibility.
  7. AppDynamics Excels at dependency monitoring and planning, with real-user-focused JMX monitoring features

What Is JMX?

JMX or Java Management Extensions is a set of tools made to aid you in managing and monitoring Java applications, application servers, system devices, and objects, as well as service-oriented networks. The name comes from the fact that these tools take advantage of the JMX console (JVM port) to look at data through the use of MBeans (Managed Beans).

Administrators and devs often struggle when extracting JMX metrics. JMX monitoring tools simplify this by introducing a standardized method to manage and monitor JVM resources.

The following architecture is used to extract queries:

  1. Instrumentation Level This is also called the probe level, and is made up of probes referred to as MBeans listing the attributes of the monitored resources.
  2. Agent Level Also known as the MBeanServer, this level is tasked with exposing the above probes to apps.
  3. Remote Management Level This level is where remote apps access the MBeanServer through the use of adaptors and connectors. The connectors use RMI, JMS, WS-*, and other communication methods to access the MBeanServer. Adaptors, on the other hand, are used to adapt to protocols like SNMP or a GUI to give access to the MBeanServer

The Best JMX Monitoring Tools

1. Zabbix

Zabbix

Zabbix is an open-source tool with a vast, creative community. It can monitor the metrics of VMs, network devices, and servers in real-time. The tool makes extracting JMX metrics extremely simple. Zabbix also initiates its JavPollers process when assessing Java app performance. However, one of the biggest strengths of Zabbix is that it’s not only a JMX monitoring tool.

Key Features

  • Easy-to-use user interface.
  • Open-source with a massive, engaged community.
  • A variety of monitoring capabilities.
  • Encrypts all of your private data and stores it in a database connected to Zabbix.
  • Heavily customizable.
  • Excellent out-of-the-box templates.
  • Real-time monitoring capabilities.

The tool provides you with CPU, bandwidth, and IP address monitoring right out of the box. It’ll also instantly detect all of your network devices through its autodiscovery process. It also assists admins in detecting and resolving bottlenecks.

Zabbix is easily configured, all you need to do is permit the Zabbix server to connect to Zabbix JavaGateway, and it’ll immediately start JVM remote monitoring. Alongside this, the tool gives you data about the CPU load, disk space utilization, bandwidth used, etc.

One of Zabbix’s biggest strengths is its ease of use and customizability. The interface is incredibly easy to use, and your administrators can easily look at the most important metrics through the Zabbix customizable dashboard.  It also has a web-based interface that you can interact with from any place on the globe.

The tool natively supports Linux, Unix, macOS, and other OSs. If you want to use it for Windows monitoring, you’ll need to use an agent. The tool is easily configured to match your needs and provides high-quality reports. Even if you need it to do more than this, there are hundreds of community plugins out there to choose from.

If an issue does occur, Zabbix will immediately notify you. However, due to its customization, you can set it up so that it only alerts you when something is off by a significant margin to prevent alert fatigue.

Zabbix rarely receives official updates, so most of them are done through its expansive community.

2. Jolokia

Jolokia

Jolokia provides an agent-based approach to JMX monitoring. It’s an extremely focused tool, being quite narrow in its features, however, what it tides, it does extremely well.

Key Features

  • Easily installed, especially when compared to the regular JSR-160 RMI connector.
  • Jolokia uses the JSON serialization library to create responses.
  • Extremely fast and lightweight.
  • Bulk request support.
  • Multi-platform.
  • Excellent for firewall setups.
  • Entirely free of charge.

Jolokia is a JMX-HTTP bridge, and in addition to providing the essential JMX operations, it enhances your monitoring efforts with features such as bulk requests and detailed security policies. The tool is an excellent alternative to the JSR-160 connector and features multi-platform support.

If you’re looking for an easily installed, simple, and quick JMX monitor that easily works even over multiple HTTP-Proxy hops, then Jokoia might be just the tool for you. The tool gives your administrators access to easily processed data through a tool that supports Bean invocation over REST APIs. Outside of this, the tool sports some fairly advanced features for its size, such as security policy setup and bulk requests.

Since the tool has been out for years, the team behind it has added a variety of features, including a JSR-160 connector, as well as other JSR-160-based features that can directly connect to Jolokia.

With that being said, Jolokia is not to be underestimated purely due to its small size. The tool supports API endpoints and has a History mode where your admins can look at how JMX attributes have changed over time. It also helps you bridge JMX with non-Java platforms.

If you’re looking for a solution that provides a large breadth of features, Jolokia might not be the tool for you.

3. Hawtio

Hawtio

Hawtio is, as the team behind it would put it: “A modular web console for managing your Java stuff”. It’s a very lightweight and versatile software with JMX alternatives. The biggest reason it’s not on the number 2 spot on this list is that it’s built on top of Jolokia. Naturally, it also supports Jolokia API endpoints.

Key Features

  • Extremely lightweight.
  • Hawtio is easily scalable and customizable.
  • Plugin-based.
  • Supports Kubernetes and OpenShift.
  • Simple to use with multiple UIs from which to choose.
  • Built on top of Jolokia.
  • Free of charge.

Its main task as a JMX monitoring software is to provide a simple, modular web console to give tools like Jolokia a bit more oomph, as well as secure the communication between the Jolokia endpoints and your frontend.

Hawtio supports a variety of plugins including Logs, OSGi, JMX, Spring Boot, Apache Caramel, Apache ActiveMQ, and more. It’s also compatible with Kubernetes and OpenShift, an excellent feature due to the growing popularity of container-based approaches. It also supports different UIs such as Bootstrap and Patternfly.

Hawtio is also extremely easy to integrate with common applications like Liberty, Tomcat, and WebLogic. Since Hawtio is simply a collection of plugins, it’s easy to extend its functionalities, as you can extend it with your plugins, or automatically discover them in the JVM.

Users have had some dependency scope setting issues with the software, so keep that in mind.

4. ManageEngine Applications Manager

ManageEngine Applications Manager

If you’re looking for a paid, but comprehensive and incredibly powerful tool for Java, JMX, and J2EE application monitoring, the ManageEngine Applications Manager is one of the best tools on the market. The ManageEngine helps administrators gain access to JMX metrics, and grants you a degree of visibility into your applications that’s difficult to attain with free tools.

Key Features

  • Database, multi-cloud, and synthetic transaction monitoring capabilities.
  • Helps with troubleshooting.
  • Analyzes failed requests and issues with JS or database queries.
  • Automation features.
  • Excellent visualization features.
  • Customer satisfaction metrics.

ManageEngine allows you to easily query and report MBeans, gain real-time visibility into whatever metrics you desire, make notification listeners, and execute JMX MBean Operations. However, one of the biggest benefits of the ManageEngine Application Manager is its automation features.

The ManageEngine Applications Manager allows you to automate the tedious tasks involved in the application and JMX monitoring. For example, it only takes a couple of minutes to automate regular maintenance with the tool. This helps you save valuable time and resources that would be spent if doing it manually.

The ManageEngine allows you to visualize J2EE web transactions and look at performance metrics in real-time. It also helps with troubleshooting and will help you isolate the causes of app performance degradation. It also supports the use of Apdex scores to measure how satisfied your users are with the app’s performance.

This tool has no issues dealing with databases either. It’ll automatically detect all SQL queries executed and find those performing below par. It also provides you with deep insights into your JS errors and web transactions. The ManageEngine also monitors cloud and multi-cloud environments with ease.

The ManageEngine Applications Manager is fairly difficult to use for non-technical users. The tool offers a 30-day free trial.

5. Nagios Core And Nagios XI

Nagios Core And Nagios XI

Nagios Core and Nagios XI are both excellent tools for JMX monitoring. The former is open-source, free software, while Nagios XI is its paid counterpart. Both of these are holistic IT infrastructure monitoring software with log data sorting and bandwidth analysis capabilities.

Key Features

  • Incredibly scalable.
  • Excellent automation features.
  • Reporting features.
  • Helps your server and application uptime.
  • Holistic IT infrastructure monitoring tools.

Many Fortune 500 firms trust the software, however, it works great in an SMB environment as well. If you’re looking for advanced software with JMX monitoring capabilities, you’re unlikely to go wrong with either Nagios solution.

Nagios allows you to quickly detect network outages, protocol failures, and other issues. When it detects an issue, it quickly emails(or sends an SMS) the system administrator. It’s also a great software for ensuring your apps and servers stay up and available. It’s also quite easy to customize, with hundreds of community-made plugins, and a web configuration interface that helps with configuring the tool to your liking.

Nagios is also multi-platform and will help you monitor both Windows and Linux servers. In terms of automation, Nagios supports extremely powerful script APIs to help you automate the tedious parts of JMX monitoring. Furthermore, the tool provides historical reports in a variety of different formats.

Nagios can be very hard to use if you haven’t got much of a technical background. Nagios XI provides a free 30-day trial.

6. eG Enterprise

eG Enterprise

eG Enterprise is an enterprise-focused tool that doesn’t require you to write any code to monitor Java apps. It features both agent-based and agentless monitoring for apps through JMX and looks at all JVM performance metrics.

Key Features:

  • Root-cause analysis capabilities.
  • Unrivaled flexibility for enterprise use.
  • 24/7 application testing remotely.
  • Deep virtualization monitoring capacities.
  • Capable of monitoring even the most complex infrastructures.
  • Autodiscovery of infrastructure dependencies.

eG Enterprise allows you to keep track of real-time metrics, monitor web container performance, and quickly find and resolve bottlenecks. The tool has an excellent track record of improving ROI in different environments within enterprises.

With eG Enterprise, you do not need to write any code for monitoring Java applications. It supports agent-based and agentless monitoring of applications via JMX and tracks all aspects of JVM performance. It also allows developers to keep track of web container performance and discover bottlenecks.

The tool provides 24/7 testing from anywhere on earth and will monitor all of your Linux, Windows, macOS HP-UX, AIX, and many others. Outside of that, the tool has built-in correlation rules and update planning capabilities.

The eG Enterprise is cram-packed with advanced features, including deep virtualization monitoring, autodiscovery of infrastructure dependencies, hybrid cloud monitoring, root-cause analysis, and many more. It’ll also monitor custom Java apps, and send off alerts through a variety of methods when it notices something is off.

You can also monitor user experience through custom apps, synthetic web containers, and of course, by tracking JVM performance aspects. The tool also enables much quicker troubleshooting with the combination of root cause analysis and historical data reporting.

The eG Enterprise is very much an enterprise-focused software, and SMBs are unlikely to get much more out of it than a simpler tool. The eG Enterprise offers a 30-day free trial.

7. AppDynamics

AppDynamics

AppDynamics provides JMX monitoring capabilities through the querying of JMX metrics. The tool is excellent for discovering and monitoring dependencies, helping you ensure you’re monitoring every factor that could impact app performance.

Key Features

  • Cassandra tracking.
  • Synthetic monitoring capabilities.
  • Real-user monitoring.
  • JVM dependency autodiscovery and monitoring.
  • User satisfaction tracking.
  • Robust alerts system.

The tool works extremely well with other Java monitoring tools like WildFly, Tomcat, Weblogic, and others. This makes it a great tool to use for pre-production and development environments.

Another excellent feature of AppDynamics is its ability to track and monitor the database usage of your apps and custom MBeans. It also allows you to create custom metrics for it to monitor in case you want to look at something really specific. This tool is the perfect fit for businesses looking to narrow down which classes and business transactions are taking up a disproportionate amount of resources.

The tool is also capable of JVM dependency mapping and visualization. This is backed up by its autodiscovery feature to ensure that you can always maintain a birds-eye view of your infrastructure. You can also manage access and permissions through the tool to make sure you’re maximizing your security.

A major issue that plagues many dev teams are bottlenecks, thankfully, the tool has an excellent in-depth bottleneck detection and alerts system. It also provides multi-channel user experience management to make sure those bottlenecks and other issues are impacting your customers as little as possible.

AppDynamics also provides Synthetic monitoring, as well as both browser and mobile real-user monitoring. It also provides real-time insights into user satisfaction and business outcomes, making it a very versatile tool.

Some users report the tool to be clunky and confusing in its UI. AppDynamics offers a 15-day free trial.

Closing Words

As always, your number one JMX monitoring tool is going to be one that best matches your needs. We’ve tried to ensure that the top 3 spots are taken by different approaches, none of which you would go wrong with if you chose them. With that being said, the tools are vastly different from each other.

If you’re an SMB looking for an open-source solution that provides a wide variety of features, Zabbix might be just the tool for you. If you’re a large enterprise looking for a highly advanced tool with a lot of peripheral features, you might be better off with eG Enterprise.

Because of this, you should always start the process of choosing a tool by outlining your needs, and looking at what tool matches them the best.

What is your favorite JMX monitoring software?

Is there any feature you wish was present in more JMX monitoring tools?

Let us know in the comments below!

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