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The Open Source For IT Management

A new open source-led effort wants to bring open choice to the systems management space.

The Open Management Consortium (OMC) claims that it isn't anti-proprietary software but is about providing a true open standards approach to systems management.

The OMC effort is starting off with a who's who of core open source systems management projects, including Nagios, Webmin, Zenoss, Emu Software's NetDirector, Qlusters openQRM and Symbiot's openSIMS.

Among the goals of the OMC is to help establish and utilize standards that allow for interoperability and integration of systems management solutions.

Promoting open source systems management solutions is another key goal and challenge for the OMC.

William Hurley, CTO of Qlusters, explained that many large enterprise accounts that he goes into today know about Linux and not about open source.

"Open Source is not necessarily seen as a system management option, it's more of a choice between CA, Tivoli, HP and BMC," Hurley told internetnews.com.

"So the No. 1 challenge for us is to promote open source tools within this environment to show how these things already work together and how we're working to make them work together even better.

The proverbial pie for systems management according to Hurley is growing, and there is a need and a place for open source solutions.

"Traditional system management vendors see one pie and they want as big a piece of that pie as possible," Hurley said. "We actually think that with the advent of commodity x86 Linux servers in data centers, and with data centers being redefined, that there is actually more opportunity for system management overall. And more people need these tools.

"We see this as an opportunity to open source the process of open standards for management, as well as to drive open source into large enterprise data centers."

Though the participants in the OMC are competitors, the idea is that they can together help to grow the ecosystem as a whole.

"We're not going to kid you; our interests are for our company," Mark Hinkle, vice president of strategy at Emu Software, told internetnews.com.

"But I'd like to think we're a bit enlightened in that when you go out there and foster innovation, it creates a lot of opportunity for ourselves as well as others.

"If we go out there and help create this ecosystem, there is a place for everyone in the ecosystem. It doesn't have to just be little fish and sharks; it can be all sorts of people," Hinkle added.

The OMC initially at least has aimed to include the core projects of the open source systems management ecosystem and not necessarily their offspring or related projects.

For example, GroundWork, which recently debuted an enhanced version of its open source monitoring system at Interop, is not directly part of the OMC, though Nagios, one of its core base components, is.

Hurley explained that it's easier for the OMC in trying to build a solid foundation to work directly with underlying projects, as all the offshoots and related projects will still benefit.

Other projects and companies can easily join the effort.

"The price of admission into this is participation," Hurley said.

But at least for the beginning, the survival and viability of the OMC may well do better with less rather than more.

Hurley said that they're looking to focus on the core projects as a way to avoid the pitfalls that he's seen in other consortiums.

"If you start off with too many voices in the beginning, it can collapse under its own weight."