Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). Many organizations use network monitoring solutions to cover essential areas of their business infrastructure, such as their servers, services, databases and revenue collected. Zabbix and Prometheus are efficient tools to help an organization in monitoring their infrastructure.

It is difficult for users new to network monitoring systems to differentiate between Zabbix and Prometheus. From a general point of view, both tools serve the same function, but they do have a few things that set them apart. Before we head main topic of this article Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? let’s look at the basic concepts behind these tools. 

What is Zabbix?

Zabbix is an open source software for monitoring several network parameters, virtual machines, applications, servers, and cloud services. It has a GUI (web based) that allows users to easily interact with their IT environment through customizable dashboards based on network maps, graphs, widgets, etc. Zabbix uses a wide range of databases but does not store data.

Supports numerous operating systems such as Solaris, Linux, macOS, etc. Since it doesn’t have a database, it uses an external database to store and monitor various applications. In addition, Zabbix uses encryption to help protect data that could be considered sensitive. 

Features of Zabbix

  • Flexible threshold definition: Provides its users with the ability to define flexible problem thresholds efficiently. These thresholds are called triggers, and developers define them by usually referencing values obtained from the back end database.
  • Zabbix API: The Zabbix API feature exposes Zabbix to programmable interfaces for mass manipulations. This feature also provides Zabbix with third party software integration among the list of available customization. 
  • Highly configurable alerting: This feature allows sending notifications that users easily customize for escalation schedule, recipient, and media type. In addition, these notifications are made meaningful through the use of macro variables. 
  • Real time graphing: The real time graphing feature of Zabbix uses the graphing functionality to immediately graph out every monitored item. This process is often automatic. 

Pros of Zabbix

  • Highly available tool. The servers have low criteria for equipment performance. Zabbix supports proxy distribution monitoring, has an automatic discovery function, and carries out automatic tracking
  • Supports many data collection methods like SNMP, JMX, telnet, etc. Zabbix also carries out both active and passive data transmission modes and collects separate data at custom intervals. 
  • Supports alarm management and settings. With alarm management, you customize multiple alarm methods and templates. Also allows users to set the alarm cycle, level, pause, etc.

Cons of Zabbix

  • Zabbix usually collects data using the pull method. Unfortunately, the pull task will often get backlogged when the target machine volume is enormous. As a result, every data collection process is delayed due to Zabbix not being designed to take the weight of numerous nodes.
  • The in built housekeeping increases pressure on the database during execution. Because of this, the database consistently needs to be optimized, or users may not have a smooth experience carrying out operations. 
  • MySQL table structure needs to be analysed for the secondary deployment of projects. However, this table structure is very complex and it might be challenging to carry on with advanced projects, if you need to learn how to analyse MySQL table structure.

Up next with Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? we introduce Prometheus.

What is Prometheus?

SoundCloud created Prometheus in 2012, an open source system monitoring and alerting software. It collects and stores different metrics as time series data. Time series data means metrics information is held alongside the timestamp of when it was recorded. Large companies generally use Prometheus for SaaS solutions and even cloud technologies. 

It runs with either docker or go applications. Prometheus has an incredible GUI and a flexible and sophisticated querying language known as PromQL. It gathers metrics and displays them through counters, graphs, and histograms. 

Features of Prometheus

  • PromQL: An abbreviation for Prometheus Querying Language. It is usually the most efficient way to query metrics that are within Prometheus. With PromQL, you also display an expression’s return by a graph.
  • Pull model: Prometheus doesn’t make use of separate servers to collect data. Instead, this is done by the pull model feature. This feature helps Prometheus collect time series data efficiently. This process is done by actively retrieving the data through HTTP. 
  • Visualization: Prometheus offers a lot of graphs and dashboards to its users. This graph is to help them monitor and keep better track of the operations they are carrying out. The only downside is that these graphs are often limited.
  • Multidimensional data model: Prometheus stores all data as time series data, and these data usually come with metric names and key/value pairs. This data model helps to identify every data that is collected on Prometheus uniquely.

Pros of Prometheus

  • Gives users a broad range of service discovery options to find services and receive metric data. This high discovery feature is because Prometheus is highly compatible with many servers and providers
  • With the pull based method, data collection is standardized and easy to carry out. In addition, this method is much more beneficial to Prometheus because it deals with time series data. 
  • Offers numerous exporters and libraries that developers use to gather application metrics. Most exporters are community developed, so the coverage of Prometheus is extensive. 

Cons of Prometheus

  • Does not come with long term storage features. Data stored only last for two weeks before it gets logged out. For large companies, this proves to be disadvantageous in the long run.
  • It does not offer a lot of features. Users must manually configure and set up many parts to get the best out of Prometheus. Some of these features are complex for those just starting.
  • Prometheus offers granular control to its users. While this might seem advantageous, it isn’t because the granularity is limited. Instead, it provides summarized data, which exporters usually scrape.

We have reached the main part of this article blog. Let’s read about Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ?

Differences Between Zabbix and Prometheus



Comes with a lot of pre installed features. These features make it easy to install and set up Zabbix. Even after the installation is done, you don’t need to set up configurations for optimal experience, as the tool is usually adequate as it is. 


It is often quite challenging to set up and configure Prometheus. Unlike Zabbix, it doesn’t have many pre installed features, so you have to separate install and integrate them. 



The architecture of Zabbix is separated into two sections: servers and agents. The servers are responsible for collecting data, while the agents are responsible for sending data. 


It isn’t divided into sections. It offers automatic service detection, and it also comes with a wide range of integrations. For example, many services support the Prometheus data collection process, which allows it to pull and push metrics directly.

Query Language

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It uses item keys as its method of pulling data. These item keys are restricted, but they are relatively easy to use. With basic development knowledge, you should be able to use Zabbix item keys effectively. 


It uses Prometheus Querying Language (PromQL). It is a language specifically designed to help with querying time series data. PromQL gives users granular control over the data on Prometheus, and the language is easy to use. PromQL is quite similar to SQL

Data Storage

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Zabbix makes use of external databases like PostgreSQL or MySQL. Before installing Zabbix, an organization must build any of the databases mentioned earlier. PostgreSQL and MySQL are usually the most accessible and reliable databases to use. 


Prometheus makes use of an internal database for time series. This internal database provides fast connectivity to data. The downside is that this data is only logged for two weeks, so organizations must maintain the data services frequently. 

System Alerting


Zabbix comes with an in built alerting function where users design certain alert rules to alert specific personnel during an event. Users  also manage these events through messages and remote commands


Prometheus does not have an in built alerting function. You have to configure and set up Prometheus before it sends alerts based on the alerting rules. Alert manager needs to be installed on Prometheus to send alerts


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Has a certain limit to its performance and beyond this limit, users will have a laggy experience while trying to carry out operations. Zabbix tends to perform efficiently under 10,000 nodes. Anything beyond this number causes some issues for Zabbix because of the weight. Furthermore, Zabbix and its database are not designed to manage large clusters


Prometheus has exceptional performance even on large networks. This performance is possible because of its native time series database, cluster management feature, and the simplicity of its overall architecture



Zabbix offers a web interface that includes a dashboard with flexible settings and provides several approaches to presenting a visual overview of the IT environment. Some of which include graphs, widget based dashboards, network maps, drill down reports, and slideshows. This functionality is present from beginning, so you don’t need to configure or install any other thing. 


Prometheus uses a visualization tool known as the Expression Browser. The Expression Browser doesn’t display metrics viewed over a long period of time. Instead, it serves as an exploration console that allows you to query into your database, change a query promptly, and discover the answers to your questions. Also, this tool doesn’t function as a complete monitoring panel. Rather, users use it to execute in depth querying into the stored metrics.

Thank you for reading this article to the end. Let’s conclude Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Zabbix vs Prometheus – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons) Conclusion

Zabbix and Prometheus are both excellent choices regarding network monitoring for several organizations. With both tools, you easily keep track of servers, data collected, and services on the infrastructure of a business. But Zabbix and Prometheus have several features that differentiate one from the other.

This article pointed out a few differences between Zabbix and Prometheus to help beginners better grasp the uniqueness of each tool. For example, Zabbix offers out-of-the-box metrics monitoring and is easy to use, while Prometheus provides a fast internal time series database solution. 

Check out more monitoring section of our blog over here

Avatar for Kamso Oguejiofor
Kamso Oguejiofor

Kamso is a mechanical engineer and writer with a strong interest in anything related to technology. He has over 2 years of experience writing on topics like cyber security, network security, and information security. When he’s not studying or writing, he likes to play basketball, work out, and binge watch anime and drama series.

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