How time flies. It has been six years since I wrote about Network management’s “new wave” and thought it would be interesting to go back and see what has happened. We are now at the outer envelope of the VC funding cycle so things should be sorting themselves out one way or another. The “new wave” was Hyperic,Zenoss and Groundwork Open Source VC funded, open source network management companies. Open source wasn’t new to the network management scene in 2007, there had been well known projects, like Nagios, MRTG and OpenNMS, around for a number of years prior to that.
Network management is the art and science of managing an enterprise network.
Found an interesting old post by John E. Vincent, Why Monitoring Sucks tweeted by MonkChips. What is interesting is what John did next. He created a GitHub account so that he could collaborate with people to rectify the problem. The most interesting part (to me anyway) is the tools-repos repository in which all of the different monitoring tools are listed. Enjoy! 😄 PS: as a counter point, read this post entitled #monitoringlove - a true story by Ulf MÃ¥nsson.
One of the things you’d expect from an active open source project is that the code base is likely to grow as more and more features are added. In An exploration of open core licensing in network management I mentioned that one possible side effect of open core software is the creation of a functionality ceiling. A functionality ceiling is a level of functionality beyond which the community edition product manager is unwilling to implement because of the fear that the enterprise product will be less attractive to potential customers.
Open core refers to a business strategy employed by some commercial open source companies. The open core strategy is popular amongst companies within network management. The open core strategy is largely defined by creating an open source community product that is freely given away, and another product, the enterprise edition, that is sold as a regular commercial software product. The open core business model is useful to software vendors because it permits them to build a community surrounding the open product who will form the nucleus of the people who upgrade to the enterprise product.
Ipswitch, the people responsible for creating What’s Up Gold, have acquired Dorian Software Creations. Dorian Software are publishers of event log management software. Dorian’s event log management solutions for Windows and Syslog environments include: Event Archiver for automated collection, centralization and secure storage of log data; Event Analyst for event examination, correlation and comprehensive reporting for audit and compliance; Event Alarm for monitoring, alerting and notification on key defined events; Event Rover for on-the-fly forensics and log data mining.
I did a comparison of the buzz for the leading open source network management tools in 2008 so I thought it would be interesting to do the same comparison for 2009 and see what’s changed. As I did last year, I’ve compared the number of searches for the project name using Google Trends. As always, this post is not intended to be indicative of the usefulness of a particular tool to your requirements.
The recent controversy over the ICINGA Nagios fork brought into focus the relative activity of the various network management projects. One of the main complaints aimed at Nagios was the slow speed of development. The following graphs, taken from the open source directory ohloh, show the number of commiters and the number of commits over the last three years for Nagios, OpenNMS and Wireshark. I can’t vouch for how accurate the stats are but I think they do provide some insight into the development processes of the respective projects.
A real world example of what Tarus Balog from OpenNMS has been banging on about recently with his critique of open core or fauxpen source. A product manager who has an open product and a closed product plainly has a decision to make over which features go into which product. Give too much away and the value add of the closed enterprise product is insufficient to warrant the licence fees. Put too many features into the enterprise product and the open source offering becomes useless.
Nagios is probably the best known open source network management tool. Ethan Galstad created NetSaint, the tool that eventually became Nagios, many years ago at the very dawn of using open source tools in network management. Things are not going well. A number of people from the Nagios community, including a couple from the Nagios Community Advisory Board have decided to create a fork of Nagios under the ICINGA project. The reason?
Rich Skrenta has done a post about the Blekko cluster health visualisation console. Very neat!