GroundWork Open Source Improves Network Monitoring

New GroundWork release expands toolset for network control and analysis for enterprise users.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 11, 2010
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Network management vendor GroundWork Open Source (GWOS) is updating its flagship product suite this week with the release of GroundWork Monitor Enterprise 6.3.

The new GroundWork Monitor release includes improved network visualization technology as well as enhanced monitoring features for large networks. The updated version comes as the market for open source network monitoring technology expands, with rivals including Zenoss and Hyperic focusing on virtualization and cloud deployments.

On the network visualization front, GroundWork Monitor Enterprise 6.3 includes technology originally based on the open source NagVis project.

"We've implemented a pretty flexible diagramming and mapping solution that essentially allows you to draw a picture of your infrastructure, business process or software stack," Simon Bennett, Senior Director of Product Management for GWOS, told InternetNews.com. "You can then drop onto it icons that reflect the current state of availability, performance or capacity, whatever it is you happen to be monitoring in the context of a business process, or whatever view makes sense to an end customer or executive."

Previously, similar solutions for GroundWork had been available as add-ons. But Bennett noted that enterprise administrators are under more time pressure now than ever, and as a result are less likely to seek out add-ons. GroundWork decided that it would be more efficient and beneficial for users to have an integrated capability.

GroundWork is taking a similar approach by incorporating the open source Cacti network data solution into GroundWork Monitor Enterprise 6.3. Bennett explained that Cacti is very good at collecting data from switches, routers and load balancers in large network environments.

"This is a tool that complements the capabilities that we've had all along and scales really well as the number of network devices you need to monitor goes up," Bennett said.

David Dennis, senior director of marketing and business development at GWOS, said that Cacti has been available as a separate add-on for GroundWork for the last several years. Many customers had been asking for direct integration, which is why it got folded into the 6.3 release, he told InternetNews.com.

From a competitive point of view, rival open source network management vendor Zenoss added Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) capabilities in its recent release. It's an area where GroundWork isn't seeing demand from its own customer base, according to Dennis.

From a cloud perspective, GWOS has a product called Cloud Connector, which first debuted in June, providing integration with Eucalyptus and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). Bennett noted that the Cloud Connector technology has not been directly integrated with GroundWork Monitor at this point as the technology is still evolving rapidly. He added that GroundWork still needs to be able to issue revisions of the Cloud Connector independently.

Open source?

GroundWork offers its network monitoring solutions in community open source editions and enterprise versions. The new GroundWork Monitor Enterprise 6.3 is a commercial release and is not being accompanied by a corresponding open source community release.

"Beginning in 2009, we decoupled the enterprise revisions from the community editions, in part because the content of the releases was diverging so much that we couldn't cope with doing both at the same time," Bennett said.

Dennis added that many community users typically want to roll their own integrations with tools like Cacti.

"Since a lot of the recent enterprise releases have been about us increasing the number of integrations, the guys that use the community edition don't necessarily want that," Dennis said. "So when we do update the community edition we need to figure out how to give something of value [that] also doesn't throw a bunch of things that they don't want in the first place."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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