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Network World's Network/Systems Management Newsletter, 02/19/07

Management and open source software, together at last

By Denise Dubie

Open source software continues to grow in popularity among IT executives, with technologies such as Linux, TomCat and MySQL. Yet the concept of open source and enterprise management hadn't seen a lot of action until the past couple of years.

One reason could be that management software and open source software require customization to work in specific environments, and IT managers don't typically have the time or resources to invest in tailoring open source code to fit their networks. Even in the best cases, it takes a few weeks to get commercial management software up and running up and monitoring IT elements across a distributed enterprise. Worst-case scenarios, it can take months and still not deliver the desired results.

Don't get me wrong. Open source applications such as Nagios have been around for quite some time and savvy network managers have been tapping freeware and shareware applications such as MRTG and Ethereal for equally as long - if not longer. But it hasn't been until recently that vendor support packages and community-building efforts seem to be the talk of the day. But even open source management advocates admit the technology needs tweaking to get results.

But over the past two years more management vendors have made open source versions of their software available and have offered support packages to help speed adoption. Most recently at LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York last week a new industry group announced its creation. The Open Solutions Alliance, or OSA, plans to make adopting all sorts of open source applications easier for IT managers. The group said it plans to do work around interoperability, development and marketing to ease implementing open source for businesses. One founding member, Hyperic, also made available an updated version of its flagship Hyperic HQ Open Source software at the show.

"This is a transitional time for open source. People have been predisposed to paying for management technology - even if it is unsuccessful. People don't always have a lot of time to kick the tires so we are making the effort to make open source more amenable to the adopter," says Javier Soltero, CEO of Hyperic.

The founding OSA members are: Adaptive Planning, Centric CRM, CollabNet, EnterpriseDB, Hyperic, JasperSoft, OpenBravo, SourceForge.net, SpikeSource and Talend. Shortly after the group was announced, GroundWork Open Source - another open source management platform provider - announced it had also joined the ranks.

Yet another fledgling industry group, the Open Management Consortium, founded last year seems to be now defunct. The OMC planned on making interoperability for both commercial and open source software deployments a non-issue. But the group's Web site is no longer open for business. Let's hope the OSA - and open source management providers in general - has more success in the future.

Copyright, Network World Inc, 2007

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Last Modified: March 9, 2008