Sancho Lerena is the founder and CEO of the monitoring platform Pandora FMS. Sancho’s first professional job in technology came in 1995, creating web pages at REM Infográfica, which would go down in history as one of the first .com companies to emerge. He studied computer engineering the at Pontifical University of Salamanca and acquired an MBA at the business school of the Polytechnic University of Industriales in Madrid.
Beginning from a garage-sized home office in 2004 and growing into a company that has amassed over 100,000 users worldwide, Pandora FMS has become a prominent industry leader in the tech industry.
Known for offering a top-of-the-line monitoring system and lending a helping hand to tech companies looking to observe, grow, and improve, the founder and CEO of Pandora FMS has seen the company’s platform conquer the tech world.
In an exclusive interview with Spotlight, Sancho Lerena digs deep into the powerful monitoring platform and the ways it's improving IT services.
Pandora FMS is a powerful monitoring platform. As such, can you tell our readers what it monitors exactly?
Pandora FMS serves as a comprehensive observability solution for a wide array of IT components within an organization's infrastructure. Here's a breakdown of what Pandora FMS monitors:
- Network Infrastructure: Pandora FMS keeps tabs on network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers. It monitors network performance metrics, bandwidth usage, and connectivity status
- Servers and Operating Systems: The platform ensures the health and performance of servers by monitoring vital parameters like resource utilization, CPU and memory usage, and disk space
- Applications: Pandora FMS tracks the availability and performance of applications, whether they're custom-built, third-party services, or well-known databases like Oracle or SAP
- Virtualization: It extends its monitoring reach to virtualized environments like VMware, Hyper-V, and others, ensuring optimal performance and resource allocation
- Cloud Services: Pandora FMS seamlessly integrates with cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, offering insight into cloud-based service availability and performance
- Log Supervision: The platform collects and analyzes various log types, including Windows events, enabling efficient issue detection and response
- User Experience Monitoring: Pandora FMS provides a user-centric approach, detecting application failures before users experience them. It monitors overall performance, specific steps, and offers real-time alerts
- Hardware and Software Monitoring: The platform unifies diverse sources of information, covering hardware components, operating systems, applications, and more. It also enables custom checks and reporting
- Application Monitoring: Pandora FMS aids in solving application performance issues before they impact users, with plugins available for a multitude of business technologies
- System Inventory: Offering real-time visibility, Pandora FMS provides detailed inventories of hardware, IP addresses, users, and applications
- Business Process Monitoring: The platform offers customizable dashboards for real-time business data, facilitating proactive management and anomaly detection
As a versatile solution, it ensures organizations have complete visibility into their IT infrastructure, enabling effective troubleshooting, optimization, and service quality improvement.
What kind of companies can benefit the most from using a monitoring platform like Pandora FMS?
Companies from all sectors of any size can achieve benefits from using Pandora FMS, as long as they have significant investments in information technology. This includes companies with their own IT management technical team, those responsible for maintaining their own infrastructure, as well as companies that manage IT infrastructures for other businesses (MSPs).
Implementing a monitoring platform can seem like a daunting experience. Can you tell us what kind of features you have in place to make this process smoother?
From the beginning of the project, we have paid attention to making the installation as easy as possible. We have gone from having an ISO (DVD image) installation to a cloud installation with a single command that does everything for the user.
The installation is only the first step, which we have managed to simplify as much as possible, then there is the process of understanding and starting to use the tool. We have a welcome wizard to guide you through the fist tasks, and a hints system.
On the community side, we have more than a hundred videos that illustrate step-by-step how to do the most common tasks and if that wasn't enough, we will publicly release our PAT course so that any user can do it online at their own pace.
Once a monitoring platform is implemented, providing ongoing support becomes crucial. How does Pandora FMS approach that part of the process?
Pandora FMS is committed to providing comprehensive support to its users. Our main goal is to ensure that users receive the necessary assistance to address any issues related to the installation, operation, and utilization of the Pandora FMS platform.
Our technical support service is designed to facilitate prompt and effective problem-solving. The primary support channel is our dedicated support system. It enables users to communicate directly with our technical specialists, providing quick and efficient assistance. This communication channel is available in English and Spanish.
For users with advanced support tiers, we go the extra mile. These users have access to phone support through dedicated numbers, allowing them to reach out for assistance conveniently.
Moreover, our advanced support tiers include 24/7 support, ensuring that help is readily available around the clock, particularly in critical situations. It's important to note that our support hours align with the needs of our users across different time zones. We provide support during office hours, accommodating both American and European time zones.
Support levels encompass a range of features to provide users with the assurance they need. These features include unlimited tickets per year, rapid response times, and clear resolution timeframes for different types of issues. For example, critical issues are addressed with a maximum resolution time of 4 hours.
Our dedicated engineering team is at the heart of the support services we provide. Their expertise ensures reliability and a thorough understanding of the platform's intricacies. We even offer optional 24/7 support for critical environments, recognizing the need for continuous assistance in mission-critical scenarios.
How do you make sure Pandora FMS remains easily integrable with various new technologies and legacy software?
Most of the media focus on all the new technologies that emerge as if the challenge was to adapt to the new when the magic of Pandora FMS is precisely the support we give to the "not-so-cool" technologies, which you call "legacy." For that, we have a huge set of plugins that we once made, and that our customers have helped us to perfect over the last 15 years.
New technologies are easy to keep up with, as Pandora FMS is designed to incorporate new technologies. We have a modular system of monitoring and discovery that allows us to add new applications at the pace that is needed, even the user himself can design his own and hook them.
We also have a library of extensions which is a public exchange ecosystem that has been growing year by year and incorporates technologies used in all companies for more than 30 years, from state-of-the-art no-SQL to legacy databases like DB2.
Considering all the advances we have seen in the fields of AI and automation, how do they benefit Pandora FMS’ monitoring platform?
We have a specific AI module called MADE for automatic anomaly detection. Our AI is constantly "learning" real-time data flow that Pandora FMS processes, training the models, without user adjustment. This way, for each module we want an "advice" for, we can let MADE inform us if it sees something anomalous and warn us.
On the other hand, we have trend reports and future predictions, perfect for capacity planning. Our configuration also has a system of "smart adjustment" for thresholds so that the user trusts the system when defining which are the valid operational ranges in the metrics it collects.
For companies with global operations, how does Pandora FMS handle the complexity of monitoring systems across different regions and time zones?
Customers in different time zones have data and resources on one hand, and personnel working with Pandora FMS on the other. We offer the possibility to define the time zone for each resource and each user so that the console displays data according to the user's time zone and adjusts data coming from different time zones to match the time zone of the central database.
In addition, our integrated HA solution can work on totally independent IP networks that are geographically separated by thousands of kilometers. We also support a long-term split, so that in the event of a HA system having a long-term network outage all sites can operate autonomously for an intimed of time, with manual reconciliation at a later date.
Pandora FMS is conceived as a horizontally scalable system, which is perfect for multinational companies. Can you share a success story where Pandora FMS made a particularly positive change for a client?
Rakuten, a leading internet services provider in Japan, faced the challenge of ensuring reliable services for its 73.6 million users. They adopted Pandora FMS Enterprise to create a cost-effective and flexible monitoring infrastructure.
By integrating Pandora FMS, Rakuten gained real-time visibility into its expansive network. With more than 10,000 agents and items to monitor, the platform enabled proactive issue detection and timely alerts, helping Rakuten's IT team to respond swiftly.
The standout feature was Pandora FMS's high-availability configuration, which provided redundancy across two data centers. This bolstered service reliability and streamlined the migration process, resulting in a smooth transition.
The outcome was impressive – Rakuten experienced a 40% cost reduction compared to their previous solution. The integration of monitoring, seamless migration, and enhanced reliability transformed their operations, exemplifying our ability to optimize internet services for large user bases.
Along with Pandora FMS, you also offer Pandora ITSM. Can you tell us what are the main differences between the two options?
Pandora FMS is primarily designed for real-time monitoring of various IT resources such as systems, networks, and applications. It offers flexibility with multiple monitoring approaches like agent-based, agentless, and remote monitoring. Customizable alerts can be configured based on predefined thresholds, ensuring timely notifications for critical issues. A key feature is the visual representation of data, utilizing graphs and dashboards for easy analysis. It's versatile and can be applied in diverse environments, adapting to different scales as needed.
On the other hand, Pandora ITSM focuses on efficiently managing IT services. It includes a service desk that acts as a central hub for incident tracking, request management, and change control. Incident management is a strong point, aiding in quick resolution and minimizing disruptions. It has a change management component that ensures controlled implementation of changes to IT infrastructure. Often, Pandora ITSM includes a knowledge base to offer self-help resources and speedy solutions. Alignment with ITIL practices is common, incorporating industry best practices for IT service management.
Pandora ITSM integrates natively with Pandora FMS, which enhances the capabilities of both products, allowing for seamless collaboration between IT service management and real-time monitoring.
Are there any new features on the horizon for Pandora FMS that our readers should be on the lookout for?
In our roadmap, we are very focused on adding complete features for security monitoring, security management (including, SIEM) and full IT automation to offer our customers an all-in-one monitoring and management solution for both legacy and modern systems.
Edited by Nikola Djuric