We continue to introduce you to the speakers of Zabbix Summit Online 2021. Our next guest is Brian van Baekel – a known Zabbix evangelist and trainer who has educated hundreds of students on all the nuances of working with our monitoring system.

Hi Brian, you are often seen on Zabbix Blog – mainly as the author of technical posts. Tell us, where did you get so much practical experience in using Zabbix?

Well, I started with Zabbix in 2013 and have been working with it ever since. During those years I’ve seen so many different environments. Each with their own challenges. Every challenge forces you to find a new creative solution and if you come across it often enough, you gain experience! I started Opensource ICT Solutions in early 2018 and the only thing we do is Zabbix. Either consultancy, training, or support worldwide, as long as it is Zabbix related. So that is even more experience that’s growing day by day as we’re serving exciting customers around the globe!

Is it true that you started using Zabbix with version 1.8? In your opinion, what are the most significant changes in the Zabbix functionality when comparing Zabbix then and now?

Yes that’s true, the first Zabbix version I started with was 1.8 and at that point I was not impressed with it, to say at least. After a few weeks, I saw the potential and started to enjoy the product more and more. After some time, we upgraded to a newer version of Zabbix where Low-Level Discovery was introduced… and wow! That was (and still is) one of the most powerful things.

In general, it’s not just one significant change that impresses me most as there are countless small and major improvements. In my opinion, it’s better to look at the product as a whole and the most significant change is how mature the product became during those years. If you really want me to name some significant changes, I must think about 3:

  • Low-Level Discovery
  • Tags
  • Dashboards
At the Zabbix Summit 2021, we will be introducing version 6.0 to the community in detail. Have you checked out the roadmap yet? Please tell us, what improvements are you most excited about?

To be honest I am not only checking the roadmap on a weekly basis but following the development rather closely to make sure we can anticipate what’s going to be introduced so we know what to advise customers.

As our customers are mainly on the Long Term Support versions, I am extremely happy that what was introduced in 5.2 and 5.4 will be available in a Long Term Support release. Regarding the new features, I am really excited about BSM(Business Level Monitoring) which will give us a comprehensive look at services instead of hosts and their metrics. That’s extremely valuable. The second thing that seems promising is HA. Although we’re building HA setups ourselves on a weekly basis it’s nice to have something natively available in the product.

Can you tell us about the speech you are going to give at the Zabbix Summit 2021?

Yes of course! So, as I mentioned, working as a Zabbix consultant and trainer, I see a lot of different environments where we have to solve various challenges. One of those challenges I came across is SNMP monitoring where the devices that had to be monitored were totally not able to handle all the SNMP requests. Luckily, they are sending traps. The art is to receive the traps and utilize them in such a way that you know the status of that device within seconds without just relying on the received trap solely. If you’re creative enough, Zabbix allows you to cater for that. So I’m going to explain why you want SNMP polling combined with SNMP traps and how to react on those traps so that you know the complete status of that device. The higher-level message of this talk is “Zabbix is flexible enough. The product is not the limit, your creativity is! Think out of the box and the sky is the limit”