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GroundWork Open Source introduces enterprise systems management tools

Going toe to toe big vendors, GroundWork Open Source has introduced enterprise systems management tools for enterprise-size companies.

Open source systems management vendors are going after enterprise turf that was once the exclusive domain of the big four vendors. In January, Hyperic Inc. released version 3.2 of its Hyperic HQ Enterprise Web infrastructure and monitoring product and promptly landed media company CNet Networks Inc. as a customer. And this week GroundWork Open Source Inc. launched GroundWork Monitor Enterprise, network and systems management tools that can support tens of thousands of devices and distributed configurations.

GroundWork Monitor Enterprise targets organizations with thousands of devices to monitor and that have numerous employees – network operations center staff, systems administrators, network engineers and IT managers – who use monitoring tools. The typical target customer has higher performance and scalability requirements, maintains a distributed monitored environment, and needs a fault-tolerant monitoring system.

Groundwork offers clear allure as well, in that it's far cheaper than other proprietary alternatives.

The low-cost alternative
According to David Dennis, the senior director of product marketing at GroundWork, Monitor Enterprise can cost as much as 80% less than Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView, one of the leading network and systems management tools. And it's not just in licensing costs inherent to open source that make GroundWork a cheaper alternative. "Big systems management vendors charge per node, while we charge a subscription price that covers the management server," Dennis said.

For enterprise customers, Dennis concedes that cost savings aren't enough to win business. "You need scalability and extensibility as well." GroundWork Monitor Enterprise's service-oriented architecture-based architecture is extensible and can integrate with leading proprietary third-party tools, including help desk, configuration management databases (CMDBs), management consoles and monitoring tools.

The announcement of the enterprise product coincides with a refresh of the company's Community and Professional versions of its GroundWork Monitor product. Both the Community and Professional versions include monitoring for servers, devices, applications and performance; the Community product is designed to monitor less than 100 devices, while the Professional version can keep tabs on hundreds of devices and is commercially supported. Release 5.2 includes several improvements, including enhanced reporting, role-based dashboards, and a Nagios Event Broker that feeds data from Nagios, the popular open source network monitoring tool, into GroundWork, reducing latency between the two tools.

Dennis says that GroundWork has gained traction among large organizations – the traditional customer base of BMC Software Inc., CA, HP and IBM. In 2007, before product upgrades, 58% of Groundwork's subscription revenues came from enterprise-class deployments. Boeing and Siemens – each with multibillion-dollar revenues – are among Groundwork's large customers.

Are enhancements enough?
Steve Brasen, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, said that many of GroundWork 5.2's features will resonate with large customers. "Some functionality enhancements – such as improvements to the event console, historical reporting and greater scalability – make [GroundWork 5.2] a much more viable solution for larger enterprise IT implementations, and certainly its price model is very attractive to budget-conscious organizations," he said. But Brasen doesn't see GroundWork as a direct challenge to the big four systems management vendors.

"GroundWork has focused its development on providing quality point solutions around specific systems management problems and then providing a framework that links them together," he said. While this distributed approach affords organizations the flexibility to pick and choose the most appropriate tools for their environment, very large organizations are likely to stay with one of the big four; typically, Brasen said, large organizations want deep integration so that they can standardize on a single platform.

That's not to say that this new release won't be a hit for the company. "GroundWork will likely see improved inroads into education and financial institutions that can take advantage of the flexibility inherent in a distributed solution," Brasen said. "But I don't see this significantly eroding the already entrenched market dominated by the big four."

The specs
Here are some of the specifications for GroundWork's new tools.
  • GroundWork Monitor is certified to run on the following platforms:
    • Intel x86 32-bit and 64-bit
    • AMD x86 32-bit and 64-bit
  • GroundWork Monitor is supported on VMware ESX Server
  • GroundWork monitoring components require one of the following Linux distributions:
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Server, 32 or 64-bit
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, 32 or 64-bit
    • CentOS 5, 32 or 64-bit
    • CentOS 4, 32-bit
    • Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10, 32 or 64-bit
    • Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9, 32-bit
  • GroundWork also integrates with a number of open source projects, including Nagios, Ganglia, NeDi, Cacti, Nmap, RRDTool, MRTG, MySQL and Network Weathermap.
  • GroundWork Monitor ships with profiles for monitoring Linux, Unix, Windows, AIX, HP-UX (operating systems), infrastructure (Citrix, BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, VMware ESX, DNS, LDAP, Cisco), applications (Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Exchange and email) Web servers (Apache, IIS).
  • GroundWork Enterprise edition offers a full-range of systems management capabilities including server, device and application monitoring; performance monitoring; reporting and exception analysis; network topology discovery; network mapping; and protocol analysis.
  • GroundWork Enterprise edition integrates with tools from third parties including Remedy (help desk); BMC Atrium (CMDB); Tivoli (console); and VMware and BlackBerry (monitors).
  • GroundWork Monitor Professional is $16,000 per year for one management server.
  • GroundWork Monitor Enterprise starts at $25,000 per year, which includes one management server, one test-and-development server, and two GroundWork University training seats.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Megan Santosus, Features Writer .

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