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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Open Source & IT Management - Next Wave

Jeff points to an interesting article on Opensource & IT Management that appeared in Linux Journal. Excerpts with edits and comments added:
- The four platforms that now dominate the IT management market-from BMC, Computer Associates, HP and IBM all were designed for the upper echelon of the Fortune 100. The result is an overload of capabilities and features that the majority of companies don't want or need. Many Global 2000 firms now pay license costs for IT management software that are very high.
- Deployment and system administration of these proprietary systems are even more expensive tasks, typically costing five to eight times the initial software-licensing fee.
- Key concern of IT teams using commercial IT management frameworks is the inherent difficulty in customizing and configuring these proprietary systems. Getting standard products configured and deployed often takes months, even years in many cases. Once the system is installed, users face rigid vendor lock-in scenarios and difficult/costly upgrade paths.
-Much like Apache during its initial rise to prominence in Web servers, open-source IT management products, such as Nagios, have matured rapidly and now offer competitive functionality and greater flexibility over proprietary platforms at a fraction of the cost.
- In 2005, however, the dynamics of the user market are shifting. With companies such as AOL, Cingular, Siemens, TicketMaster and TimeWarner Cable already embracing and relying on open-source IT management products, the category of open-source IT management solutions is poised for mainstream adoption.
- In the opensource world, product upgrades and expertise needed to maintain are more economical and lot more quicker. Opensource IT management solutions have three core characteristics that make them well-suited to the task of monitoring and managing heterogeneous IT environments:
- they provide open interfaces;
- they are built on component architectures that are highly configurable; and
- the open-source code is transparent and designed to be modifiable.

This combination makes an open-source IT management solution an ideal "manager of managers." Most companies have several different IT management systems in place already, each monitoring different aspects of the network at any given moment. One system monitors application performance, for example, while another focuses on databases and still another manages routers and other network devices. By providing a consolidated view across the entire IT infrastructure, this manager of managers approach enables better IT performance and more timely IT decision-making.
Open-source solutions lower both the upfront cost and the long-term TCO of IT monitoring and management in several ways:
-No licensing fees
-Lower deployment costs:
-Low system administration overhead
-Low hardware costs:
-A Growing Open Source Ecosystem

A number of opensource IT management products are gaining traction, including Nagios--660,000 downloads since 2001-for availability monitoring; MRTG (Multi-Router Traffic Grapher) for network device statistics; Nmap for network scanning and discovery; Ntop for network traffic analysis; SyslogNG for log file analysis; and Cacti for SNMP analysis and performance graphing. These products provide strong core functionality for an enterprise-class monitoring solution. A growing ecosystem of companies is now in place with a track record of delivering professional consulting, integration and support services that many CIOs require before making the move to open-source IT management.
My Take:Opensource is a mixed bag in terms of user adaoption thus far - paradoxically , the adoption and usage appears higher in system admin area - typically the arena of techies. Opensource need to move into the desktop and mobile market - to make its presence felt -only when millions and millions begin to use it over and over again, the movement would stop unstoppable momentum. The opensource bodies should look at the mass market segment seriously - if inroads can be made there -I beleive it is certainly possible- then it shall become the real force that could fundamentally alter the technology world.

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