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Nagios creator launches commercial support businessMatthew Aslett, November 9, 2007 @ 6:36 am ET
Ethan Galstad, creator of the Nagios open source network monitoring project has announced the launch of a new company called Nagios Enterprises LLC to provide professional services, including support and consulting, around the project.
The development is a major change of heart for Galstad, who had previously shied away from commercializing Nagios, and could pose a significant challenge to the existing open source systems management vendors, especially GroundWork Open Source.
In a posting on the Nagios Enterprises site, Galstad explained why he had finally decided to set up a commercial Nagios support company:
“By generating revenue through the provision of commercial services and products, I am convinced that Nagios Enterprises can play an important role in helping both the Nagios project and community. Supporting development, accelerating release timelines, helping to promote awareness and advocacy, and ensuring long-term project viability are all things that can be more easily accomplished with funding,” he wrote.
That is a major about-turn for Galstad, who had previously doubted the wisdom of setting up such a commercial entity. In March 2006 Dave Rosenberg (now CEO of MuleSource) suggested that “the benefit of his joining up with a commercial entity (under his terms) would only make Nagios better and give him time to work on the product rather than having to worry about how he’s going to make money.”
“Its true that joining with a company to commercialize Nagios *could* be beneficial to future development, but I’d be willing to bet that in 99% of all such scenarios there would be more problems than anything created by such a move,” he wrote.
Galstad’s issue is the balance that must be achieved between supporting the needs of a project and supporting the needs of shareholders/investors. It is an issue he remains concerned about:
“I am aware of the fine line that both I and the company must walk between the efforts of commercialization and the support of the Nagios project. I want it to be known that I hold the Nagios community in the highest regard, and I will endeavor to ensure that we operate in a manner that is respectful of the community at every step,” he stated of the new company.
As well as creating Nagios Enterprises he has also set up a Community Advisory Board to help drive the direction of the company.
There appears to be decent potential for Nagios Enterprises given its popularity – an estimated user base of 50,000. As this comparison shows, Nagios not only topped total open source network management downloads from SourceForge over the last year, but it also has a stable following.
The launch of Nagios Enterprises will bring Galstad into competition with GroundWork, which has built its network and systems management product on top of Nagios, although offers a lot more besides, including a graphical front-end, the Cacti discovery tool, the NeDI network discovery and configuration tool, MRTG network SNMP collector, RRDtool report generation tool, Network Weathermap for network usage visualization, and NTOP for network protocol analysis.
UPDATE – Not surprisingly, GroundWork and Nagios Enterprises decided it would be beneficial to work together – UPDATE
It is interesting to note that creating Nagios Enterprise wasn’t the only option for Galstad:
“After spending several months evaluating commercialization options, investigating possible partnerships, and talking with Nagios community members and leaders of other Open Source projects, I have decided to form Nagios Enterprises and step into the world of commercialization,” he wrote.
Nagios Enterprises is an interesting addition to the open source management market. Now, in the spirit of yesterday’s post about patience being a virtue, I suggest we all leave Galstad alone to get on with it and don’t bother him again until he’s preparing the IPO.
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