GroundWork Offers Open Source Monitoring

Monitor 4 package includes a unified user interface for displaying monitoring status data, a middleware layer that captures and normalizes monitoring data, and a configuration tool and device profile library.

GroundWork Open Source Solutions Inc., an IT operations management software maker, Monday announced GroundWork Monitor 4, a new release of its end-to-end, open source-based IT monitoring package.

Monitor 4 is an enterprise-ready IT system monitor built on open source tools such as Nagios, Jetspeed and MySQL.

"Most current IT monitoring software overloads users with unnecessary complexity and is costly to maintain," GroundWork founder Robert Fanini told Ziff Davis Internet. "You plug this in, it takes any kind of system data, and it just works."

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Monitor 4s new architecture incorporates the three open source tools that GroundWork launched over the last four months. These tools include:

  • A new unified user interface for displaying monitoring status data from Nagios and other monitoring tools (GroundWork Status Viewer). "You can already have tools like Oracle or Tivoli and simply plug them into the console, and youre up and running," Fanini said.
  • A middleware layer that captures and normalizes monitoring data from disparate open and closed source tools (GroundWork Foundation);
  • A configuration tool and device profile library that simplifies the task of configuring an enterprise-class monitoring system (GroundWork Monitor Architect).

"This tool (Architect) maintains profiles of configurations for every server, device and application in your network," Fanini said, "so when something goes down, you can make the fix and bring it back up quickly.

"System administrators are increasingly accustomed to GUI-based software configuration tools, but Nagios still requires users to edit by hand. With [Architects] graphical, Web-based user interface, weve bridged one of the largest functional gaps of Nagios," Fanini said.

Monitor 4 also provides tools for users to integrate additional open source and commercial tools and write custom views, reports and dashboards.

"For HP OpenView, for example, its relatively easy to create adaptors for the database scheme and display mechanisms," Fanini told Ziff Davis Internet.

Deployment and support

Enterprise IT systems are relying on open source software more and more, utilizing Apache web servers, MySQL databases, JBoss application servers, and SugarCRM in increasing numbers, for example. One piece that had been missing in the OSS stack, Fanini said, was a true enterprise-caliber network and system management product.

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GroundWork Monitor 4 has been in development for more than a year and has been tested and/or deployed by more than 20 customers, including Sierra Pacific Industries, a third-generation forestry products company; MacTec, an engineering and construction firm; Ariba, a leading provider of spend management software; and Yodlee, a technology provider for financial services companies.

"Our forestry business requires a widely dispersed network, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to monitor each of the sites to ensure they were up and running," said Kevin Nadin, network administrator for Sierra Pacific Industries. "With GroundWork Monitor 4, were spending minutes rather than hours keeping tabs on the network, which frees us up to focus on more strategic activities."

Market snapshot

The $6 billion market for IT management software is now undergoing some changes, driven by two primary forces: First, basic monitoring functionality has become commoditized to the point where numerous products now reliably perform the same basic functions, Fanini said. At the same time, a thriving ecosystem of open source products and vendors specializing in monitoring and other IT management applications has matured rapidly.

The result is that Global 2000 and SMBs (small and midsize businesses) now have a low-cost, open source alternative to expensive traditional software, he added.

"In its first 12 months, the Emeryville, Calif.-based startup has won more than 70 customers for a platform built around the Nagios open source availability monitor and other free and open source management tools," The 451 Groups senior analyst Rachel Chalmers wrote in a Sept. 23, 2005 report. "The company adds value by pre-integrating a stack of open source management tools. It aims to combine the flexibility and customization options of open source with the process-centric, IT service management approach now prevalent in corporations.

"Our initial curiosity points to the glaring need for an open source competitor in network and systems management. Nagios is emerging as a standard platform. GroundWork has built a coherent stack around it.

"GroundWork has a respectable VC war chest and an impressive rate of customer acquisition. The biggest risk seems to be managing such rapid growth," Chalmers wrote.

GroundWork Monitor 4 is sold as an annual subscription at $16,000, pre-packaged with phone- and VPN-based configuration assistance, updates and technical support.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...