Ranga Rangachari, CEO, GroundWork
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Among the most fundamental and core pieces of software that can exist in a network infrastructure is software that can monitor the network itself.
The market for network and IT monitoring tools is extremely competitive, with heavyweights, such as IBM Tivoli and HP OpenView commanding a lot of attention and dollars. In recent years there has also been an upsurge in open source alternatives, thanks in part to the success and adoption of tools like Nagios, which are freely available and accomplish basic network monitoring tasks.
Then are the open source vendors like GroundWork that package Nagios and other tools together into an enterprise class suite that challenges the proprietary stalwarts.
GroundWork isn't challenging proprietary vendors all by itself either. Because of its relationship with Linux vendor Red Hat and the Red Hat Exchange, GroundWork is leveraging the power of Red Hat's market presence for its own success.
InternetNews.com recently caught up with GroundWork's CEO Ranga Rangachari to talk about his firm's relationship with Red Hat, its competitive positioning in the market and why patents aren't a barrier.
Q: Does your participation with Red Hat in any way cannibalize your own efforts at selling GroundWork? What about the fact that Red Hat also lists your competitor Zenoss as a partner?
No. For us channels of distribution are critical to our growth. The way the internal sales team has been set up is to help the channel partners sell more products and services.
Red Hat has done a very good job of providing hosted demos and we really don't get into each individual transaction. They provide the customers with all the necessary tools that make it self selecting. What we typically see is the end result with a customer saying "I want to buy GroundWork."
We don't disclose individual numbers, but it's fair to say that it's going really well. In fact we got the first customer within 30 days of Red Hat launching Red Hat Exchange. The initial impact has been very positive.
Q: What is the biggest myth or misconception about what GroundWork does or doesn't do?
If all the questions were answered we wouldn't be in business. At every stage of growth you get a different set of questions and issues.
A year and a half ago I would have said the No. 1 issue in people's minds was do they really want to use open source to manage and monitor their business-critical infrastructure? Those questions have gone away over the last 12 months due to the continuous momentum and customer wins that we've had.
If it were three months ago the question was around how effectively can you monetize the business through channels. I think we've done a good job of recruiting channel partners and giving them the ability to partake in the ecosystem and be part of the value chain.
The market risk has gone away; people are using our solution for managing their business-critical infrastructure.
Q: In terms of competition there are a number of other open source solutions and vendors . Do you see the other open source solutions as competitors, or is it really just a battle against the proprietary vendors?
In the market we are going after today the competition is definitely the big four: CA, BMC, IBM and HP.
At a macro level the competition is proprietary solutions.
Q: What are the barriers to adoption for GroundWork?
A lot of education needs to happen. A year ago the objections were philosophical: Is open source ready for prime time?
Those don't exist anymore. Our whole philosophy is about inclusive system management where you can continue to do what you're doing. We have a lot of customers where they have data from the proprietary vendors that gets fed into our console. That's where the whole notion of open source makes sense for a customer. They're not locked into one specific solution, and they can continue to do what they were doing.
We get a lot of calls today on virtualization where customers ask us if we can provide monitoring and we have a pretty robust solution for that today.
Q: Is there any patent risk for enterprises that want to use GroundWork? Or is that not an issue for your users?
It's not a question that comes up. That to me is more of a FUD factor that traditional proprietary vendors have to create.
We have a lot of intellectual property that goes into our product, but we open source it. As long as people who use our intellectual property conform to the GPL license, we're fine with them using it.