How open source management software stacks up

GroundWork Open Source lands in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT event correlation and analysis technology.

GroundWork Open Source earns kudos for its software offering, which includes commercial support for open source tools, a 24-7 development community and a low price point.

Open source management applications continue to draw interest from cash-strapped IT organizations and one company earned recognition for its online community, support offerings and low-cost entry point.

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GroundWork Open Source landed on Gartner’s July 2009 report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of event correlation and analysis (ECA) product makers. Gartner defines ECA products as those that help IT personnel reduce duplicate events, isolate problems and prioritize IT support efforts. Such products need to first understand “normal” behavior of the environment and then alert on exceptions and anomalies. Products today should also associate IT events with the potential business impact, according to Gartner.

“IT organizations invest in ECA tools to improve the productivity of the IT operations staff and to reduce the time it takes to troubleshoot problems by consolidating events from various devices, applications and other management tools,” the report reads. “With proper event management, the IT operations group can be deluged with event storms, numerous false positives and a ‘sea of red’ on their consoles.”

ECA products should be able to receive events from hardware, software, servers, virtual machine, operating systems, network devices, storage systems, security tools and application and mainframe elements. The products typically use consolidation, filtering, normalization, enrichment, correlation and analysis techniques, the Gartner report states.

Gartner analysts examined vendors such as CA, BMC, HP, IBM, eG Innovations, EMC, NetIQ, Nimsoft and others, but GroundWork Open Source represented the open source community in the report. GroundWork took a seat in the challengers/niche players segment of the market and earned points for grouping its open source products in an integrated manner and providing support like a commercial IT operations management vendor. Gartner also listed GroundWork’s open source development community as one of the vendor’s strength. The software also won points for its low cost.

Yet Gartner does caution potential users about a few weaknesses of the open source management technology. Gartner reports that the software requires a “technically savvy user” and IT departments using GroundWork Monitor should be familiar with open source communities to “take full advantage of GroundWork.” The technology also relies upon community for some adapters and product enhancements, and IT managers might find upgrades “tricky” because enhancements need to be “documented and supported by the user,” Gartner says.

“GroundWork supports a wide range of IT elements, and customers can use adapters developed through the Nagios exchange,” the report reads. “GroundWork is aimed at providing an alternative to much larger and more established IT operations management vendors; however, it’s primarily being adopted by companies with small to midsize IT infrastructures.”

Interested in freeware and shareware, open source applications and scaled down versions of commercial software and services? In the coming weeks, Network World will devote an online forum (now dubbed Management Maven -- new name suggestions welcome!) to the topic of free techie stuff, which I will compile and present for your review and potential download. Let me know what you find, what you want to hear more about and what invaluable tools that didn’t cost you a thing at ddubie@nww.com.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.