Open source software has a long history in lower-level network software so it's not surprising there is a healthy range of free tools available for network and systems management.
Often with commercial support available, open source network management tools offer an easy way to gain more visibility into the workings of disparate systems and software.
In this edition of 5 open source things to watch, we take a look at network management projects that will allow IT managers to take control of the shop without selling the farm.
OpenNMS is a network management application written in Java. It claims to be the world's first enterprise network management developed under an open source model. The project was registered on SourceForge on July 2000.
Designed to scale to thousands of notes from one installation, OpenNMS can automatically discover network services and has an API for integration with bug tracking systems.
While commercial development and support services are available through opennms.com, the project makes a point about not having a proprietary "enterprise" version.
OpenNMS is cross platform and a mobile client for Apple's iOS is available.
Zenoss Core is the open source network management product backed by Zenoss. It manages the configuration, health, performance of networks, servers and applications in one system.
Zenoss has an integrated CMDB and it is controlled by a web-based GUI. Custom devices like temperature sensors can also be monitored.
In addition to the standard uptime and performance monitoring features, Zenoss supports monitoring templates dubbed "ZenPacks".
NetXMS is more of an independent open source network management project that has client and server apps for Linux, Unix and Windows. Its main developer is Raden Solutions, a Latvian IT company.
In addition to the standard network monitoring features, NetXMS has business impact analysis tools. The NetXMS interface is a "fat" client and there is also a web interface.
Both free and paid support is available for NetXMS.
Nagios is one of the most popular open source network management tools and is widely deployed among Linux users. It began life as "NetSaint" before being renamed Nagios.
The central application is called Nagios Core, with additional functionality available through Nagios Plugins, Frontends and Config Tools. Regarding the third party applications and plugins for Nagios, there is the Nagios Exchange portal that categorises extensions across various genres.
Both community and commercial support is available for Nagios.
Hyperic is an open source network management suite that targets itself as being suitable for web application and virtual machine management. The commercial Hyperic was acquired by SpringSource, which was then acquired by VMWare.
Hyperic features automatic discovery and records some 50,000 metrics across 75 application stacks.
An Enterprise edition is available for Hyperic which includes more features than the open source edition and commercial support.