Qlusters' OpenQRM project offers single point of control for Linux-based data centers.IT professionals struggling to better manage a growing number of x86 systems running important business applications have a new open source option.Qlusters, which launched in 2001, kicked off its OpenQRM project last month, bringing its Qlusters Resource Management software into the open source realm. The software, which includes monitoring and policy-based provisioning and resource management for Linux systems, has been available as a commercial product for four years.Qlusters executives say they saw a need for an open source management tool to be the single point of control for increasingly complex, Linux-based data centers. They hope that by making their software open source, enough community support will be created for it to become a de facto standard.The OpenQRM project is being hosted on SourceForge.net and distributed under a modified Mozilla Public License. The software is available for free download. Qlusters will generate revenue by offering support packages, starting at $750 per server, per year. Add-ons, such as support for VMware, will bump the cost of OpenQRM to about $1,250 per server, per year, says Ofer Shoshan, founder and CEO of Qlusters.Henry Mayorga, vice president of operations at electronic trading firm Tradeware Global in New York, brought in the commercial QRM product last year as he began migrating dozens of Sun Solaris boxes to x86 systems running Linux. He says he has reduced from eight to two systems administrators to manage about 130 servers."A lot of the management, a lot of time spent by systems administrators doing scripts and doing replication and doing all this fancy stuff is being taken care of by the Qlusters interface," Mayorga says.He applauds Qlusters for making the software open source. Mayorga runs several open source tools, including Nagios open source network-monitoring software, and says having access to source code will enable his team to make better use of the product. "If I have the ability to get into certain parts of the code, there are things my guys can do to make my life better and then we can feed them back" to the project, he says.Getting that type of community backing is where Qlusters will face its greatest challenge as it moves from a commercial enterprise to an open source project, analysts say. "They need to generate community interest in the actual development project and then establish a business model that can leverage the benefits of that community," says Tony Iams, senior analyst at Ideas International.Qlusters is focused on automating the management of systems, especially in virtualized environments, as companies create more flexible, yet more complex data centers - a hot area for all management vendors, including CA, BMC Software, HP and IBM. Shoshan says Qlusters doesn't compete with, but rather complements other proprietary management and monitoring software products, and can feed data to them.