AlterPoint will launch its ZipTie open-source project at the Gartner Enterprise Networking Summit, in Las Vegas, with the aim of creating a community to maintain and extend multivendor network element management software.
Specifically, AlterPoint will release five components of its DeviceAuthority network configuration management software under a Mozilla Public License.
The five components, which will provide a framework for network inventory management, consist of the ability to discover, back up or restore device configurations; the ability to compare device configurations over time; the ability to detect changes to device configurations; the ability to distribute individual or multiple device configuration changes; and a fifth component that includes a set of extensible tools with which to perform network administration tasks for any network device.
"All [of these] are found in proprietary management products, but all are different. We think there is a large need for a common way to [perform element management]," said Scott Harmon, president and CEO of the company, in Austin, Texas.
AlterPoint will continue to develop and market commercial products on top of the ZipTie framework. But rather than spend development resources on discovering and monitoring configuration changes for a wide range of networking devices from multiple vendors, AlterPoint will focus on configuration management, change management, and planning and analysis, Harmon said.
"If the community takes responsibility for maintaining this body of code to talk to all these different devices, we can spend more development on commercial products. Porting and managing heterogeneous devices is a big part of our expense. This could change that equation to benefit us and end users," Harmon said.
It could also remove the burden of developing and maintaining element management software from networking equipment suppliers.
"Equipment providers see an open alternative as a way to get out of writing element management software so they can focus on what they do well," said Roger Castillo, AlterPoints chief technology officer.
Castillo said at least five different vendors that provide load balancers, firewalls and network access equipment are interested in the framework, although he was not free to name them. Open-source router provider Vyatta, which markets the Open Flexible Router, is also looking to use the ZipTie code base.
The effort complements and will be linked to other open network management projects, including the Nagios open-source network monitoring program, the Open Management Consortium and the Eclipse open development platform.
AlterPoint hopes the project will seed the market for future sales of its commercial products, the company said. It is also aimed at providing an open-source alternative to Cisco Systems CiscoWorks.
Software downloads, moderated forums, blogs, road maps and FAQs for the project will be available at ziptie.org.