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GroundWork Doubles What Monitor 5.3 Can Manage

The Monitor 5.3 open source systems management product updates MySQL, PHP, and the tool that collects information such as CPU usage, and network bandwidth.

GroundWork has upgraded its open source systems and network management product to release Monitor 5.3, with a claimed ability to manage 1.5 or 2 times as many data center devices than it could formerly manage.

GroundWork is one of four "Little" open source systems management companies competing with the Big Four systems management vendors: IBM, HP, BMC, and CA.

GroundWork includes the Nagios open source project's monitoring system. The GroundWork 5.3 release upgrades to a recent 3.0.6 release of Nagios. Other open source components have been updated, such as: the MySQL database; the PHP scripting language, RRDtool or the Round Robin Database tool that collects specific timeframe information such as CPU usage, network bandwidth used or temperatures of specific devices; and BIRT open source Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools.

The 5.3 release includes the BitRock Network Service, which allows GroundWork to stay informed on what version of its software a customer is using, if the customer opts into the network service. GroundWork in turn can use BitRock to send the correct notices to customers whenever fresh technical bulletins, updates and security patches are available for particular GroundWork components, including Nagios. About 25% of its customers are opting in so far, said product manager Simon Bennett, in an interview.

In addition, release 5.3 has operational intelligence reporting built in through BIRT to help identify bottlenecks, and when system capacity is approaching pre-set limits. "It would show me when I need an additional server in my Microsoft Exchange server cluster," said Bennett, by reporting on existing usage compared to performance data collected over many sessions. BIRT allows more proactive management of the systems by indicating "where you need to send your troubleshooters," he added.

GroundWork says 2008 was the best year it has had so far, with the average deal size up 44% and the customer base up 151%. GroundWork comes in a free community edition, and annual subscription-based $24,000 Professional and $40,000 Enterprise editions.

At the start of 2007, 30% of its users were Enterprise customers; at the start of 2009, that figure was 49%, said David Dennis, senior director of marketing, in an interview. GroundWork is privately held and doesn't reveal revenue or numbers of actual customers.

"We don't know whether it's because of macro economic conditions or because we've gotten better," said David Dennis, senior director of marketing.

Other Little Four open source system management vendors include Hyperic, Zenoss, and Qlusters, although Qlusters moved away from its core OpenQRM system last April, turning it over to a SourceForge open source project and potentially turning the Little Four into the Little Three. Under Qlusters' sponsorship, OpenQRM was one of the most active open source projects on SourceForge two years earlier.

Dennis estimated that 41% of GroundWork customers are small and medium-sized businesses that have experimented with code from open source projects or have attempted to cobble together their own open source systems management.

GroundWork rolls advances of several projects into each release of Monitor. Less than a quarter of GroundWork's new customers are migrating away from Big Four systems management systems, such as CA-Unicenter or IBM's Tivoli.

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