Open source management tools gaining traction

Traditional vendors are being challenged, analyst says

Open source management software has become a viable alternative to commercial products, and a recent rash of partnerships proves it, one analyst says.

Red Hat and Hyperic have announced they are collaborating on a common platform designed to speed systems management improvements to open source software.

Separately, Nagios Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Nagios open source monitoring software, and GroundWork Open Source, are planning to jointly develop and deliver services around open source IT monitoring and management.

The deals mark a significant change in customer attitudes, analysts say, as customers now weigh open source software against commercial products more than ever.

"The market for open source management products is really maturing and having an impact on the big four management vendors," says Raven Zachary, a research director at The 451 Group. "There is such a prevalence of open source software out there now, outside of management, that customers are now looking to find tools to manage their open source deployments that also have the open source model."

The big four management vendors -- BMC, CA, HP and IBM -- have had some less than stellar reviews from customers of late, as shown in a recent Gartner survey. But the popularity of open source management vendors, or the "little four" comprised of GroundWork, Hyperic, Qlusters and Zenoss, is growing, Zachary says.

"Today, some of the best management options are coming out of the open source community and not from commercial vendors," he says.

The partnerships referred to above could bode well for the longevity of open source management platforms. For instance, given that Red Hat is a trusted name in the open source community, that recognition could reassure customers considering Hyperic that the company's technology has significant development and support behind it. "It's a great deal for Hyperic to have Red Hat engaged in this effort," Zachary says.

And GroundWork, which built its open source management platform in part on Nagios technology, also gains some validation with support from Nagios Enterprise.

"While GroundWork has a diverse product set that goes beyond its Nagios business, it has to be a huge relief for GroundWork to have the core contributor of Nagios working on it still," Zachary adds.

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