Nagios alerts via SMS the easy way

Nagios is a great network monitoring tool  I’ve caught a lot of stuff and fixed it before it became a real problem that anyone noticed.

The majority of my Nagios alerts are sent to my work email address.  But what happens if the mail server goes down?  I already had Nagios set up to send email for certain notifications to my personal address, but I don’t monitor that mailbox aggressively.

I considered setting up a free email address and using that just for Nagios, and setting up special notifications in my phone for this address.  This just didn’t seem practical to me though.  And I knew that Nagios had the ability to send SMS messages on it’s own, but to be honest I was daunted by what was involved in setting that up.

One day it hit me.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  It’s one of those things that I kinda knew but had forgotten about.  Filed away in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.

Cell carriers often have an email address associated with your phone number.  And when you send an email to this address, it goes to your phone in the form of an SMS message.  Here are some of the common ones.

  • T-Mobile:  [number]
  • AT&T:  [number]
  • Verizon:  [number]
  • Sprint:  [number]

If you are on another carrier, a little bit of web searching should find you what you need.

So, armed with this info, I created new alternate contacts for the few of us that would need it, and an alternate contact group.  I then added this alternate contact group to the few services and servers for which we would want to be notified via SMS.

This worked really well.  Not to long after I did this I got a text message late at night on a Sunday telling me that my mail server was down.  Fortunately it was not anything major and I was able to have it resolved rather quickly.  My users came in Monday morning not knowing anything had even happened.