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Open Source Management Options

This is a major review of Open Source products for Network and Systems Management.


Nuts and bolts network and systems management is currently unfashionable. The emphasis is far more on processes that implement service management, driven by methodologies and best practices such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Nonetheless, all service management disciplines ultimately rely on a way to determine some of the following characteristics of systems and networks:

The commercial marketplace for systems and network management offerings tend to be dominated by the big four – IBM, HP, CA and BMC. Each have large, modular offerings which tend to be very expensive. Each has grown their portfolio by buying up other companies and then performing some level of integration between their respective branded products. One can argue that the resulting offerings tend to be "marketechtures" rather than architectures.

This paper looks at Open Source software that addresses the same requirements. Offerings from Netdisco, Cacti and The Dude are examined briefly, followed by an indepth analysis of Nagios, OpenNMS and Zenoss.

This paper is aimed at two audiences. For a discussion on systems management selection processes and an overview of three main open source contenders, read the first few chapters. The last few chapters then provide a product comparison. For those who want lots more detail on Nagios, OpenNMS and Zenoss, the middle sections provide indepth discussions with plenty of screenshots.

Complete paper

The paper is available as a PDF file:

Note that the file is fairly large (18MB).

See also Jane Curry's list of papers.