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Open-source network management gets put to the test

A great resource, Network World's review of open-source network management tools

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World
June 25, 2007 08:51 AM ET

Network World has an excellent review of open-source network management tools, which is a must-read for network and server administrators running free-software shops. (Reading the full article requires a registration process).

Three open-source network management tools were reviewed: Zenoss Core; Hyperic HQ; and GroundWork OpenSource Monitor. These three polished, free network management tools all received high ratings from Network World Lab Alliance member Barry Nance in his review.

GroundWork Opensource, which I wrote about in a past newsletter, is a package that combines several free open-source network management tools, including Nagios and NMap, and ties them together with Apache Web and a MySQL database to create a complete system. Network World found GroundWork to be a good, basic management platform, with a few rough edges. (Lack of a good "dashboard" for aggregating activity views was a sticking point).

Hyperic HQ faired a bit better, as an open-source package which combines network asset discovery, activity monitoring, reporting and alerts. The reporting was a feature that stuck out in the test. Zenoss Core was rated tops in the review. The software also combines discovery, network device and server management, monitoring and other features. It supports Nagios plug-ins and scripting; it's user interface and the thoroughness of its network discovery features impressed most.

Regarding the three free tools that were tested, keep in mind, Richard Stallman's "free as in free speech … not as in free beer" concept. The three open-source management tools all charge for technical support services, while the code itself is freely downloadable.

Keep in mind Zenoss, Hyperic and GroundWork are but drops in the bucket of open-source network management tools. Open Country is another free platform for managing enterprise networks. Other packages take aim at handling specific types of networks, such as Centeris, with a focus on mixed Windows/Linux environments, or GEMS, which is geared toward managing a specific type of Linux — Gentoo.

Editor's Note: We're sad to report that Phil Hochmuth will be leaving Network World to take up a position as an industry analyst, you'll be able to reach him at phochmut@gmail.com. In place of this newsletter, starting Friday, July 6, you will begin receiving the Linux & Open Source News Alert newsletter, a weekly digest of Linux and open source-related news and opinions written and compiled by LinuxWorld Editor Don Marti. We thank you for supporting our newsletters.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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