Open Source Monitoring: GroundWork 5.3 released, an interview with David Dennis

Groundwork, the provider of the open source based network management software, announced  the availability of GroundWork 5.3. The new platform increased scalability, the number of devices managed by a single subscription, and avoids per-node licensing. 

Reading the press release few questions came up in my mind. I asked David Dennis, senior director of product marketing at Groundwork, more about GroundWork’s customer base, how GroundWork keeps pace with open source innovation and how GroundWork benefits from using the BitRock Network Service.


Key benefits of the new release include:

 Nagios 3.0.6 and upgrades to other key open source components, like MySQL, RRDtool, PHP and BIRT.

How difficult is to keep pace with these projects?

Striking the right balance between continuous Open Source innovation at the project level and the need for a stable and reliable monitoring solution is an on-going process for us.

Many Open Source projects including Nagios release updates often. This type of fast release schedule is great for innovation but makes the projects difficult to maintain and service in larger, complex environments where strict Change Control procedures are typical.

Since GroundWork Monitor releases are extensively regression tested and backed by our support organization the business risks associated with plain Open Source projects is minimized.

As a general rule we generally prefer to update to the latest stable versions of the constituent components with each product release, thereby including project improvements a little behind the “bleeding-edge.”

GroundWork also releases Service Packs when critical fixes or newly discovered security vulnerabilities call for it.

Often open source vendors are taxonomized on the basis of the (commercial) license scheme, so that firms like Zenoss and GroundWork seem to use just the same model – i.e. differentiating on features their commercial and community products. On the contrary they use different open source production models, resulting in different core capabilities and configuration of activities (see “what is an open source business model” for more references on business models’ building blocks).
GroundWork relies on existing projects and amalgamates them, demonstrating the ability to engage in community-led open source development right at the top of the five stages of community open source engagement designed by Ian Skerrett. (Stage 5: design products so that they can be based on FLOSS, obtain competitive advantage by harnessing changes in multiple ecosystems).

Enhanced maintainability via the BitRock Network Service, which notifies of available patches, updates, and technical bulletins.

Why you choose BitRock and how customers benefit from it?

The BitRock Network Service update notification technology allows users to automatically receive notifications of patches, updates, and news, as well as voluntarily share GroundWork Monitor usage statistics. Users can choose not to share this information if they wish.

While raw download numbers have always been available for open source projects, quantifying how many downloads become active installations, and how they’re being used, has always been challenging and imprecise.

BitRock’s Network Service enables us to create a two-way data exchange with our users, allowing us to notify them from within GroundWork Monitor of available updates and technical bulletins, and allowing them to share product usage data with us. It’s a win-win that helps us better serve our users and provides valuable insight for product planning.

Since incorporating the BitRock Network Service in the GroundWork Monitor 5.3 alpha and beta versions, about 25% of the downloads have “phoned home” and connected to the service.

BitRock was chosen because of their familiarity with open source installation packaging and their track record with other open source vendors such as MySQL, SugarCRM, Jaspersoft, and Pentaho.

25% of downloads is an impressive number, really.