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1. Introduction

There can’t be just one solution for all, and if you are paying for a software subscription, you will want to pay only for features that you actually use. For this reason, Checkmk offers various editions for different areas of application. In this article we will introduce you to the CSE Checkmk Enterprise Standard Edition, one of the commercial editions most commonly encountered in professional environments.

2. Overview of the Standard Edition

Based on the fully Open Source variant, the CRE Checkmk Raw Edition, the Standard Edition most importantly offers performance improvements, more extensive possibilities for dashboards as well as reporting and facilitates automation. It thereby addresses above all professional users, who put subscription costs against reduced hardware costs and reduced expenditure for the production of own extensions. In addition, the Standard Edition provides various options for booking support with guaranteed response times.

The CSE Checkmk Cloud Edition in turn builds on the Standard Edition.

Complementing the edition comparison on our website, this article explains the differences on a technical level and thus tries to be a complementary support for decision making when choosing a Checkmk edition.

Furthermore, this should help to determine which configuration changes may be necessary or useful when changing an edition — no matter whether an upgrade or a downgrade is to be performed.

3. Additional functions with the Standard Edition

The main features of the Standard Edition that distinguish it from the CRE Checkmk Raw Edition:

  • Performance improvements:
    With the Checkmk Micro Core (CMC), the Standard Edition uses a monitoring core that utilizes memory and CPU more efficiently.

  • Facilitates distributed monitoring:
    A number of enhancements facilitate distributed monitoring. These include the possibility of completely centralizing the configuration, to handle notifications entirely via the central site, and various techniques to ensure the reliable transfer of monitoring data even in slow or unstable networks.

  • Business features:
    Where IT is business critical, monitoring must help document, classify and prevent problems. For this purpose, the Standard Edition offers predictive functions such as setting up recurring scheduled downtimes, and evaluative functions such as generating availability reports — the latter also for complex systems consisting of a large number of components.

4. Upgrading to the Standard Edition

You can upgrade a Raw Edition to a Standard Edition at any time. To do so, follow the description for an upgrade to the Standard Edition.

If you have tested Checkmk with the Cloud Edition, which is not limited for the first 30 days, you can also upgrade to the Standard Edition permanently after the trial period. To do so, follow the description for a downgrade to the Standard Edition.

5. Differences of the components in detail

5.1. The monitoring core

This section covers differences in the monitoring core and the transfer of monitoring data in distributed environments. Users migrating from Nagios environments to Checkmk should carefully read the Checkmk Micro Core and Special characteristics of the CMC articles to assess whether it may be appropriate to run Checkmk with the Nagios core for a transition period.

FunctionDescription

CMC

The commercial editions by default use the Checkmk Micro Core, which is more performant than other monitoring cores by reducing to essential functionality and optimizing it.

Alert handler

The CMC does not support Nagios Event Handler, but provides the more flexible alert handler.

Smart Ping

The Smart Ping ensures more efficient and faster detection of whether hosts are reachable.

CMCDump

This transfer technique simplifies distributed monitoring in environments with unreliable network connectivity. In environments with the Nagios core Livedump is available instead.

Livestatus proxy

The Livestatus proxy optimizes performance and latencies in distributed monitoring.

Distributed HW/SW inventory

The automatic synchronization of inventory data in distributed monitoring makes inventory data centrally available.

RRD storage format

When using the CMC, Checkmk uses a Round Robin Database (RRD) storage format optimized for saving disk I/O.

Parent-child topology

CMC allows Checkmk to more accurately determine the state of dependent hosts in environments with parent-child topology.

Flap detection

In the commercial editions, a fine-tuning of unsteadiness detection is possible for services that oscillate around thresholds for a long time.

5.2. The monitoring interface

FunctionDescription

Standard dashboard

By default the commercial editions use a dashboard, which is not available in the Raw Edition. The latter uses the problem dashboard instead.

Measured values and graphing

Advanced graphing functions are only available in the commercial editions. These include: Scope of dashlets, PDF export, graph collections, customizations (graph tunings), embedding in reports or dashboards, and custom graphs.

Kubernetes dashboards

The Kubernetes dashboards are available only in the commercial editions.

Scheduled downtimes

Only in the commercial editions regularly recurring scheduled downtimes can be specified. In addition, convenient changing or removing one or more scheduled downtimes is possible via commands.

PDF export of availability data

Availability data can also be exported as a PDF in the commercial editions.

PDF export of views

Direct PDF export of views in monitoring is available only in the commercial editions.

Reporting

Reporting is available only in the commercial editions.

Extended availability (SLAs)

The extended availability / service level agreements included only in the commercial editions facilitate the control of contractual agreements regarding the availability of services.

Acknowledgement with validity period

The acknowledgement of problems can be assigned a maximum validity period in the commercial editions.

5.3. Notifications

FunctionDescription

Notification spooler

The commercial editions include the notification spooler, a component that allows more efficient and flexible delivery of notifications.

Trackable delivery

Smarthost settings can be used in the commercial editions to ensure that notifications arrive more reliably than by just handing them over to the Raw Edition’s local mail system.

Centralized notifications

In distributed monitoring, the commercial edition’s notification spooler can be configured to send notifications from remote sites for all targets.

5.4. The monitoring agents

FunctionDescription

Agent Bakery

The commercial editions have a mechanism to automatically create custom agent packages with plug-ins and configuration files with the Agent Bakery. Agent configuration settings can be made using the Bakery API in the setup GUI.

Agent updates

The automatic update of agent packages after configuration changes is only possible in the commercial editions.

SNMP monitoring

Thanks to a dedicated SNMP engine (inline SMTP), the commercial editions are more performant than the Raw Edition with the use of snmpget/snmpbulkwalk.

Checkmk fetchers

In the commercial editions, the Checkmk fetchers provide efficient fetching of monitoring data.

5.5. Connectors

FunctionDescription

SAML

Since Checkmk 2.2.0, the commercial editions can natively authenticate against SAML, up until 2.1.0 and continuing in the Raw Edition, this is only possible at the Apache level.

Grafana

The Grafana plug-in allows filter cascades when used with the commercial editions.

InfluxDB and Graphite

Only the commercial editions provide an interface to connect to external metrics databases.

Jira

The notification method for Jira is only available in the commercial editions.

ServiceNow

The notification method for ServiceNow is only available in the commercial editions.

5.6. Additional functions

FunctionDescription

DCD

Dynamic host management with the Distributed Configuration Daemon enables automatic creation of hosts, facilitating Docker and cloud monitoring such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

MKP management

Management of Checkmk extension packages is only possible on the command line in the Raw Edition, and in the commercial editions additionally is available via the Setup GUI.

MKPs for GUI extensions

In the commercial editions you can create GUI extension packages for dashboards, views and reports.

Predictive monitoring

Predictive monitoring with dynamic thresholds based on values determined over a longer period of time can be used in the commercial editions.

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