Open source network management buzz comparison 2009

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.

Open Source Network Management System Trends

Firstly a comparison of the major players in open source network management: Zenoss, Hyperic, Nagios, MRTG and OpenNMS. The most striking thing about the graph to me is the decline in searches for Nagios. From the middle of 2009 things have been declining quite steeply. MRTG has been declining though it just looks like a continuation of the decline evident for the last few years.

Open Source Network Management System Trend 2009

A Comparison of the Nagios Ecosystem

Whilst the above graph showed a reduction in the relative number of searches for Nagios, perhaps the Nagios ecosystem graph can explain it. Icinga, a Nagios fork, was created during 2009 and may be responsible for at least some of the decline. Icinga appears on the graph during late April and has a steady presence throughout the rest of 2009 save for a small period during the Christmas break.

A Comparison of the Nagios Ecosystem 2009

Open vs Closed Network Management Systems

Given that 2009 was a year of recession in many countries, perhaps it won’t surprise too many to see so many of  both the commercial open source and proprietary tools trending downwards. I suspect that 2009 was a tough year for winkling money out of IT budgets.

Open vs Closed Network Management Systems 2009

Conclusion

All in all an interesting year. Apart from the Icinga/Nagios episode it seems odd that none of the tools has made  significant progress during 2009. If open source tools were to make a move against their proprietary cousins you would assume it would be 2009 given the economic background. Budgets have been tight, so why haven’t open source tools made progress in these recessionary times?

Tivoli vs open source network management buzz 2008

As suggested by Jane Curry in her comment on the Open source network management buzz comparison 2008 post I’ve compared Tivoli related keywords and selected open source projects. Tivoli covers a lot of ground so comparing it on its own doesn’t really tell you very much.

Tivoli vs Open Source Network Management Systems
Tivoli vs Open Source Network Management Systems

Both Tivoli Monitoring and NetView have been pretty consistent throughout 2008 unlike OpenView which fell substantially. It is odd that Tivoli Monitoring fell off a cliff in December. Presumably, that is just a really heavy seasonal decline rather than anything more fundamental. Maybe Tivoli people get very generous Christmas breaks. 😉

Open source network management buzz comparison 2008

As it’s the start of a new year I thought it would be an ideal time to look back over the year just gone. I have used Google Trends to compare the number of searches during 2008 of various open source and proprietary network management tools.

Whilst search volume is an interesting metric for network management tools, it is not intended to be in any way indicative of the usefulness of a particular tool. If you want to choose a tool, start from your own requirements first and select a tool from that.

Open Source Network Management System Trends

First up is a comparison of the major open source network management systems. Nagios, as one of the oldest open source projects in network management,  still has a huge community of users and, in spite of a number of very good competitors, appears to be holding its own.

MRTG during 2008 does show signs of continued decline. Hardly surprising given that a number of very capable competitors exist that are much easier to install and configure.

Zenoss, Hyperic and OpenNMS are all doing well, retaining substantial levels of searches with Zenoss retaining its early lead.

Open Source Network Management System Trend 2008
Open Source Network Management System Trend 2008

A Comparison of the Nagios Ecosystem

Nagios is a significant open source project in and of itself. In addition, it also has an ecosystem of tools built on top of it as well. There are three main nagios core tools: GroundWork Open Source, Centreon and OpsView.

I haven’t been able to use Groundwork Open Source because a comparison wouldn’t be valid given how many words it is made up of. Many people may well type in Groundwork instead of Groundwork Open Source even though you will get a lot of civil engineering related results.

Configuration is one area Nagios is not very user friendly to new users, relying upon editing configuration files for changes. Both Centreon and OpsView provide an improved configuration experience, reducing or completely removing the need to directly edit configuration files. Surprisingly both Centreon and OpsView receive substantially fewer searches than Nagios.

A Comparison of the Nagios Ecosystem 2008
A Comparison of the Nagios Ecosystem 2008

Open vs Closed Network Management Systems

A comparison between a representative sample of both open source and proprietary tools shows an interesting trend.

Both NetIQ and OpenView are losing searches whilst the open tools are holding up well. Perhaps, money was tighter in 2008 due to the economic woes befalling many economies. OpenView has been particularly badly hit, being well down over the year as a whole.

Open vs Closed Network Management Systems 2008
Open vs Closed Network Management Systems 2008

Conclusion

The open source network management tools search volume has held up very well throughout 2008. The same cannot be said for either proprietary tools, OpenView and NetIQ. Both of the proprietary tools have seen their search volume fall. A recession started during 2008 in many countries worldwide. So, that people are searching less for expensive software tools, maybe isn’t that surprising. I doubt the Google Trends data could evidence a shift from proprietary to open source tools though, given the absence of an upshift in searches for open source tools.

RiverMuse: open source enterprise fault management system

John Willis on his excellent CloudDroplets #7 podcast mentioned a very interesting development in the enterprise open source network management space.

RiverMuse is an open source enterprise fault management system designed to replicate the functionality of IBM Tivoli & HP OpenView. RiverMuse has been developed by the original founding team of both Micromuse and RiverSoft.

The software isn’t available yet, it was due first week of November. I’ll let you know when it’s released.

Network management’s downward trend?

The most puzzling aspect of the “New wave” network management buzz comparison is the OpenView & NetIQ graph. I find it hard to believe that either OpenView or NetIQ are losing traction in the marketplace. So, how do you explain the fall in their respective number of searches?

Network management vs network monitor

First port of call was to see how the industry in general is doing. Whilst far from perfect I think that the network monitor & network management keywords will provide a reasonable guide to search trends.

Network management vs network monitorFigure 1: Network management vs network monitor

Figure 1 looks strangely familiar. The generic terms network management and network monitor both show a very similar downward trend to both NetIQ and OpenView.

Network monitor vs NetIQ vs OpenView

Network monitor vs NetIQ vs OpenViewFigure 2: Network monitor vs NetIQ vs OpenView

You can see in Figure 2, where network monitor is graphed along with OpenView and NetIQ, shows the same trend.

Why the downward trend

Whilst the graphs are very similar in shape, a steady loss of search volume over the last three years. I am at a loss to explain the reasons behind the numbers.

The usual suspect would be an economic slowdown. Though, I think we can exclude this straight away. Just about everywhere in the world is growing at a fair old lick, including the English speaking nations.

The network management market is mature. Maybe systems are installed and working, so why bother researching a new system when you’ve bought and paid for a system that works?

Perhaps customers aren’t quite as dissatisfied with existing solutions as some believe? If they are dissatisfied, why aren’t they researching new, better solutions?