Open Source Systems Management: Hyperic HQU released, an interview with Stacey Schneider

Hyperic, the provider of open source web infrastructure management software, recently announced a new version of both the open source and enterprise versions of Hyperic HQ.

Hyperic released a new UI plugin framework named Hyperic HQU, enabling administrators to develop new modular UI components via web services, and announced also a partnership with OpenNMS, a popular open source network management solution.

I started asking Stacey Schneider, senior director of marketing at Hyperic, about Hyperic background and history.

The technology and the founders that would eventually form Hyperic originally came together at Covalent. There, they worked together to build an application monitoring solution for web-based infrastructure, centering on Apache. They spent two years developing this technology and recruiting a handful of customers. Early in 2004, Covalent reassessed its place in the market and decided to not invest further in this technology — however the team was passionate about the area and confident their solution had a big place in the market. So, they spun off and formed Hyperic taking the engineers, software IP and customers with them.

The founders bootstrapped the company for 2 years, building out their designs and working closely with the first dozen customers. As the product became mature, JBoss discovered Hyperic during a build vs buy assessment for what would become their JBoss Operations Network offering. They decided to OEM Hyperic. Quickly following that, Accel and Benchmark decided to fund Hyperic. This provided the founders with the means to go through the process of opening up the software to the open source community.

Since then, the company has grown from 5 employees to 40, from 12 customers to over 450, and from one strategic OEM relationship to 6 along with 25 other partners.

Should we talk of “low-end disruption” or a “new-market disruption”?

Hyperic is serving a new market – one that is born of new technology, fast rates of change, and tied together using web technologies. These custom built systems are usually not candidates for the older frameworks offered by the Big 4. Because they are so custom, the teams typically supporting them build custom management tools as well – usually using scripts they write or Nagios to do service checks. These systems may exist alongside old iron legacy systems, systems that are more stable and have a functioning monitoring solution from the Big 4 working for them. However, these systems are different – and this is where Hyperic’s opportunity is made in the market. For operations teams powering custom built technology – using a variety of technologies developed in-house or components available either commercially or open source – they need Hyperic to help them keep up with change, establish rules based monitoring and management protocols, and incorporate their custom logic and bleeding edge technologies into one easy to use, scalable solution.

Why Hyperic is employing three different community managers?

Almost all of our eventual customers meet Hyperic through our Community. They either trial the open source software first, read about users experience, or find their solution to their problem documented through the community. Our community provides broad resources for any deployment, including forum based support and advice, and a community HyperFORGE where users contribute additional management plugins, scripts or UI plugins. To keep pace with the activity, and to organize events, communication and community outreach – Hyperic has 3 community managers and one community moderator. As a company, we believe it is important to invest heavily in community development to ensure our users have the best experience, and we as a company learn and benefit as much as possible from our community at large. As a result, many of our users-turned-customers still rely heavily on community communications and events to improve their deployment. Additionally, they also lend a great testimonial to other users who are considering becoming customers – all in a public forum that is built on credible trust.

Hyperic Enterprise  is a proprietary software solution, just like Groundwork Enterprise, based on the open source version of the product. Hyperic vibrant community is clearly an important part of their marketing strategy.

Definitely yet another interesting open source firm.

Technorati Tags: commercial open source, StaceySchneider, Hyperic, open source community, hyperforge, hyperic HQU, systems management,   Web monitoring