Open source monitoring tools and management applications will soon enjoy a new home online as commercial vendors and open source supporters unveil a community devoted to the flexible, free IT software.
MonitoringForge.org launched Tuesday in beta and welcomes developers and users of open source network and systems management and monitoring applications to share their tools, experiences and plans for future work. GroundWork Open Source, a maker of open source applications offered as commercial software, started the online effort earlier this year after realizing how many projects specific to management exist. The site is meant to cull management tools – 1,700 have been verified for the site so far – and provide a venue for discussion, development and downloads.
“This is the first attempt to really create a neighborhood for all these projects to be represented in that is truly neutral. There is no one tool that fits every environment, and IT administrators can share success stories and experiences with the various projects to find which works best for their needs,” says Tara Spalding, vice president of marketing at GroundWork.
MonitoringForge.org is collaborating with SourceForge.net to deliver a niche community focused on monitoring, and organisers explain the site is not a replacement for other open source communities, but rather an environment for IT administrators to target their search for open source management projects and plugins. Industry watchers say the site could flourish and become a valuable resource for the monitoring community.
“The effort should get some attention, but the key is whether it gets attention from the right people – which I believe are the open source developers and IT administrators who create, refine, use and combine the projects and code for which MonitoringForge.org is intended,” says Jay Lyman, an analyst at the 451 Group covering open source. “With a couple hundred or more sites for open source systems and network monitoring and management, GroundWork has a point that there needs to be consolidation.”
The vendor says the site will remain vendor- and project agnostic, meaning no one tool will be promoted over others. GroundWork is reaching out to fellow commercial open source vendors Zenoss and the recently launched RiverMuse. Lyman notes that while the effort has already garnered support from some 500 individuals, MonitoringForge would benefit from participation from groups such as Nagios Enterprises, OpenNMS Group and others. And while the site is designed to promote open source, proprietary vendors can contribute their open standard API developer kits and any component that doesn’t conflict with an open source license, according to GroundWork.
“The site will be completely vendor agnostic. It was created to promote existing projects and inspire future ones,” Spalding says. “GroundWork organized this in the spirit of open source, and we know IT administrators know the tools they want to see and we welcome that input to help spawn new projects.”
Spalding says the site has about 65 active beta users at this time and intends to add a governance board to ensure the site’s neutrality. Analysts are hopeful the site will provide open source advocates with a focused forum on IT management and monitoring, but still believe the success of the site could rest on whether IT administrators and end users find it useful.
“It may be possible to create a community of developers … but to include membership and participation from IT administrators and end users is more challenging,” Lyman adds. “MonitoringForge.org comes at a time when we are seeing a trend toward greater cross-collaboration in open source software, which bodes well for its future. This is a fast-moving, fast-changing area of software and IT administration, so this type of community could help to deliver more continuity for users and customers.”