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Open source data center management emerges

The economy isn’t the only reason open source management applications are currently garnering a lot of attention. With vendors building commercial business models around the low-cost tools, now is the time to invest in software that can manage, automate and control enterprise environments.

Forrester Research recently examined in a report a range of open source management tools; some well-known and already in use in many IT shops, some newer to come to market and others offered with commercial support packages. Vendors such as GroundWork, Hyperic (recently acquired by SpringSource) and Zenoss have spent the past few years making a business out of creating communication and packaged support for open source management applications.

Another vendor, Cfengine, also adopted this model and made a version of its IT process-based data center management available as open source. Announced in April, Cfengine Nova is designed to manage the entire server lifecycle, according to the vendor. The software can; perform pattern matching; verify that key processes are or are not running; monitor disk usages and system performance; warn about full file systems before a problem occurs; and conduct change management processes for files using “cryptographic hash checking, for security purposes or for locating human error,” the vendor says on its Web site.

According to Forrester, “With Cfengine, system administrators free up time that can be spend on data center planning and design instead of fire fighting.”

The open source management software is compelling enough, Forrester analysts say, to challenge the “Big Four” management vendors — BMC, CA, and IBM — on not only cost but also capabilities. “Cfengine [has] introduced [a] project that will be worthwhile to follow and will likely give the big four proprietary IT management solutions a run for their money,” the research report reads.

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