RealTime IT News

Zenoss Uses Google For Network Visualization

Sometimes it's just not enough for network administrators to know that a problem exists somewhere on the network. They need to see where it is. So Zenoss decided to map it.

Open source network management vendor Zenoss released Zenoss Core 2.1, which integrates Google Maps into its network-reporting interface. The feature provides a degree of visibility that Zenoss did not have before, though other open source projects have dealt with the visualization issue in other ways.

The Google Maps integration gives you a quick view of where your problems are, said Mark Hinkle, vice president of business and community development at Zenoss, told InternetNews.com. "Before we just had tables with status messages, and now we've got something that is more intuitive."

The theme of the Zenoss Core 2.1 release, according to Hinkle, is about providing a better user interface and enhancing usability. Zenoss Core enables IT admins to do both network and application monitoring via a browser-based dashboard.

The Zenoss open source project is among the most popular open source solutions for network monitoring, with tens of thousands of downloads. Zenoss also offers an enterprise version based on Zenoss Core, the most recent release of which is Zenoss Core 2-based Zenoss Enterprise 2.

Though Zenoss is a popular solution for many seeking an open source network monitoring solution, it's certainly not alone in the space.

Zenoss is part of the Open Management Group (OMG), which launched in 2006 as a consortium for open source management vendors.

"[OMG] raised the flag for people interested in open source management that there is a place to go and create a network of people talking together," Hinkle explained.

John Harleman, vice president of strategic development at OMG member Qlusters, noted that there is an obvious need for improved ease of deployment and visual representation.

"The widespread adoption of Zenoss further underscores this need in the industry, and we anticipate this trend to continue," Harleman told InternetNews.com.

The demand of open source network monitoring solutions also extends beyond the membership of the OMG and includes GroundWork Open Source, another open source startup. .

Bob McKee, senior director of product management at GroundWork Open Source, told InternetNews.com that its GroundWork Monitor Open Source, available for download on SourceForge, competes with Zenoss, but that its flagship product, GroundWork Monitor Professional, caters to the mid-size enterprise market.

"Thus, in most sales settings, we're seeing the likes of the bigger proprietary players like HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli, and to a lesser extent CA Unicenter and BMC Patrol," McKee said.

GroundWork doesn't use Google Maps for network visualization, but it does offer other ways to give users a topological view of their networks.

Using the built-in Nagios Map capability, for example, dynamically generates topological views of a network based on the systems and services actively being monitored by GroundWork, McKee said. Nagios is an open source network-monitoring solution that is among the applications that make up the GroundWork solution.

GroundWork also has a dashboard feature that enables users to build custom views of their monitored environments. Then there is Network Weathermap, which is an open source tool that GroundWork demonstrated at Interop in 2006.

Along with GroundWork's network traffic graphing module and protocol analysis, Weathermap can give a company topological views that dynamically illustrate network traffic. It also highlights problem areas with drill-down capability.

Zenoss's Hinkle had little to say about the difference between Network Weathermap and what Zenoss is doing with Google Maps.

"I've seen Network Weathermap; I don't know that there is a huge difference," Hinkle said. " I think it has a lot of features in common but I don't know what they do."