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GroundWork Sees Open Source Gaining Ground

Though times are tough throughout the economy, open source networking vendor GroundWork claims it's doing just fine -- and it's counting on a new release of its flagship monitoring software to keep it that way.

The company this week introduced its new Monitor 5.3 release, which it said increases its scalability and availability while adding features.

The new release comes as enterprise of all sizes try to get a better grip on managing their networks -- and as other open source vendors look to cash in with new product releases. For GroundWork, it's an opportunity to woo enterprises who are exploring savings by moving from proprietary software to open source -- a trend that the company said has already led to a number of its newest deals.

David Dennis, senior director of product marketing at GroundWork, told InternetNews.com that said that half of all its deals worth $40,000 or more came from users switching from HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli.

"We don't know if our growth is a result of economic belt tightening or us just getting better at execution of growing the business," Dennis said. "It's probably a mix of both."

GroundWork Monitor 5.3 also provides an improved installation interface to get users up and running faster. Updating the installation is also simpler, with the addition of a feature that alerts administrators to new software updates and patches.

Dennis also added that the 5.3 release will include new reporting functionality to help graph utilization trends to help predict when a network may need to add capacity or servers.

In addition to commercial Professional and Enterprise versions, GroundWork also offers a free community edition of Monitor, which lacks the commercial offerings' support and enhanced enterprise scalability features.

The Nagios connection

A key part of all three is the GroundWork platform's integration of the open source Nagios network monitoring project.

The 5.3 version of GroundWork Monitor includes the Nagios 3.0.6 release, which GroundWork product manager Simon Bennett said provides greater scalability and performance. The GroundWork 5.2 release, which came out in March 2008, was based on the Nagios 2 release.

While Nagios has its own community of users, GroundWork provides additional monitoring and reporting tools that enterprises may need.

In addition to Nagios, GroundWork integrates a number of other open source projects into its GroundWork Monitor 5.3 application, such as data-logging and graphing application RRDtool and BIRT, which is short for "Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools".

Still, Nagios' relationship with GroundWork is critical to the company, it said. The two enjoy a working relationship: For instance, GroundWork is a sponsor of the Nagios.org Web site, according to Dennis. The two also share a referral relationship for business leads -- when a Nagios user migrates to a commercially supported GroundWork Monitor, for example.

And the relationship between GroundWork and Nagios may soon extend even further, according to Dennis.

"There will be some upcoming announcements in the next several months around further support and business relationships that are under discussion with Nagios," Dennis said, hinting that those deals could result in additional training and support options.

Dennis also claimed that, in addition to wining business from major enterprise vendors, 29 percent of GroundWork new, big-ticket wins came from users trading up from free and open source software -- such as Nagios and similar efforts.

A much smaller portion of wins -- 7 percent -- came from commercial open source vendors like Zenoss or Hyperic.

Perhaps as a result, at least one of GroundWork's rivals said they don't feel threatened.

"We do not see them in the market" Javier Soltero, CEO of Hyperic, told InternetNews.com in an e-mail. "With the new release they seem to be offering more support for Nagios -- that's great. We are very different companies. We offer our own technology that is the leading solution for large scale Web applications and infrastructure."