Automation, devops drive open source deeper in the enterprise

Server provisioning and configuration management and automation are the latest examples of where the tech industry is being driven, largely by open source software. The leading open source server and IT infrastructure automation frameworks, Opscode Chef and Puppet Labs’ Puppet, sit on the leading edge of significant trends under way in enterprise IT — particularly disruption from cloud computing and devops, where application development and IT operations come together for faster, smoother delivery of software and services.

I’ve discussed the importance of open source software in cloud computing and in trends such as devops and polyglot programming. Consistently across all of these trends and the technologies that go with them, there are prominent roles for Chef and Puppet.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

Microsoft hearts Linux, just not Red Hat

Just when you thought it couldn’t top itself — having contributed Linux kernel code under the GPL, broadly supported Linux alongside Windows with its systems management and other software, and spun off a new subsidiary dedicated to openness, Microsoft showed yet more Linux and open source love recently, adding an impressive Linux lineup to supported software on its Azure cloud.

However, there’s one major Linux player that’s sort of getting left out of the love-fest. It’s enterprise Linux leader Red Hat and its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which has to sit by while other distributions, including RHEL community clone CentOS and market competitors SUSE and Ubuntu, get first-class treatment in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2012.01.20

Topics for this podcast:

*Hadoop v1.0 and year ahead
*Oracle-Cloudera deal for more Hadoop
*Oracle’s ‘Sun spot’ with Solaris
*Open Source M&A outlook for 2012
*Our new MySQL/NoSQL/NewSQL survey

iTunes or direct download (28:49, 4.9MB)

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.12.16

Topics for this podcast:

*Hadoop roundup
-Cloudera Enterprise Hadoop update
-Hadapt combines Hadoop with db analytics
-Informatica grows its Hadoop work
*HP open sources WebOS
*The GPL fade
*Red Hat acquisition targets

iTunes or direct download (31:41, 5.4MB)

LinuxCare relaunch reveals cloud lift for Linux

LinuxCare, which recently relaunched a new cloud computing-based Linux services business, had represented frankly a lot of the Linux support business, promise and opportunity that never quite lived up to the hype and expectations. LinuxCare, which suffered from lack of leadership and execution, later became Levanta, and we eventually questioned its Linux-only approach in an enterprise IT world increasingly made up of mixed-OS deployments. Levanta shut down, along with some other missed systems management efforts, in 2008.

The lack of novelty and uniqueness about Linux continued, and as we saw with Linux World 2008, Linux had become so well ingrained in enterprise IT that it truly seemed nobody cared. Like Levanta, LinuxWorld is now gone.

So why would now be the right time for another go at Linux support business? I believe the answer lies in the same response I’ve been offering a number of users, vendors and clients: cloud computing. We began watching more closely the use of Linux, including unpaid community Linux, in cloud computing a couple of years ago with our report, The Rise of Community Linux. Last year, we continued to track the use of Linux, and again community Linux, in cloud computing as we were still hearing about the use of both paid versions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise Server, but also community versions such as CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu, which is growing both its paid and unpaid use in cloud computing environments.

We’ve also seen cloud-specific versions and vendors, such as CloudLinux, which typically aim their cloud-tuned Linux software and support at specific verticals and industries. For CloudLinux, as well as for the major Linux vendors and others, that specific industry is hosting and other service providers moving to the clouds.

So a LinuxCare relaunch with with focus on supporting Linux for cloud computing infrastructure, applications and services makes some sense, and also highlights the continued business, benefits and opportunities of Linux as opposed to competing operating systems.

Cloud monitoring keeps open source in cool crowd

One of the first special reports I wrote for 451 Group was an analysis of the open source systems management vendors on the scene — GroundWork, Hyperic, Zenoss, OpenNMS Group, Nagios Enterprises and some others. These named ones are those that made it and while there was some reckoning in the market and there have been changes, it is interesting to see these players still plugging away, pushing into new markets and powering open source for systems, network and application monitoring and management, including cloud computing environments.

When acquired by SpringSource a year ago, there was some question as to the real value of open source systems monitoring and management company Hyperic, which had taken the most pronounced and aggressive move toward the cloud. Flash forward to VMware’s latest SpringSource tc Server release and we see VMware, at the very least, still sees technical and market value in Hyperic, which continues to be its cloud appliation and infrastructure monitoring technology and brand. Hyperic and its acquisition by SpringSource also served as an early milestone in the devops trend.

As for GroundWork Open Source, the company just made an announcement for monitoring private clouds created with Eucalyptus Systems, which continues to gain buzz and attention itself with its recent hiring of former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos. The GroundWork-Eucalyptus joint offering, intended to provide one point of control for datacenters and cloud computing environments both private and public, is also intended for channel partners (which represent about half of GroundWork’s revenue) to offer Eucalyptus-based private clouds with monitoring as well.

Zenoss is another vendor that continues to leverage open source for systems management that is finding continued interest and traction in large part thanks to emergent models and strategies in cloud computing. In its case, Zenoss announced it will provide service assurance monitoring for private and public clouds based on Cisco’s Unified Computing System. The beta service promises enterprises and service providers fast and cost effective deployment of a unified operations console for UCS services, which could include physical, virtual and/or cloud computing environments.

There are also others that are still growing in the enterprise systems monitoring and management space with open source software: Nagios Enterprises and OpenNMS Group in particular. Nagios Enterprises, which shares the same name as the popular open source monitoring project, continues to grow its enterprise and cloud presence despite a fork and check on its development last year.

OpenNMS Group, among the most community and project-oriented of the open source commercial plays in systems management, is part of an interesting effort toward a cloud service broker (CSB), aimed at enabling service providers to connect to various cloud providers, along with British Telecom and others.

Given much of the efficiency and rewards of cloud computing center on driving greater utilization and efficiency, it is not surprising that monitoring is a big part of it. Given the trend toward using open source pieces for cloud computing, particularly as we consider the current wave of investment and building of private cloud infrastructures where open source is very well-suited, it is not surprising to see open source a big part of it, too.

What’s in a name? Still open source

We industry analysts sometimes get a chuckle or two out of vendor names. Sometimes it’s a new vendor and we are left wondering, what were they thinking? Sometimes people take a vendor’s name and make fun or pun out of it. More seriously, though, we do continue to see vendors that focus and center their technology and business on open source software among the most frequent name changers in the industry. The reason is fairly simple: the name of the open source project is usually what people think of when the project is successful.

A few of years ago, we saw a spate of open source name changes, including Likewise and SpringSource. The reasoning then seems to remain the case today: the positive association of open source with cost savings and the positive connotations of an open source project in the enterprise outweigh any disconnect or disassociation with the project. This seems true even though differentiation from open source projects was a key challenge among vendors we polled recently for our report on sales and marketing for open source software.

This week, we were reminded the value often still lies with the name of the project, despite differentiation or branding advantages, as Reductive Labs, the server management and automation software startup that hosts and provides enterprise support for the open source Puppet automation framework, announced its name change to Puppet Labs. It makes sense and highlights the importance of open source software projects and communities in today’s enterprise IT.

Updated note: I also wonder whether the large number of open source projects and related commercial vendors in cloud computing will produce any similar name changes in the near future?

SpringSource-Hyperic not so open source, not so bad

There’s quite a bit of discussion about SpringSource’s annnounced acquisition of Hyperic, with all kinds of speculation on SpringSource’s competitive positioning, its desire to add a management component and, as we report, the importance of Hyperic’s focus on monitoring and managing applications in virtualized and cloud environments. What does not seem to be quite as prominent in the discussion of this deal between two companies we consider open source vendors is: open source software.

Sure, there are technical and cultural reasons that an acquisition and merging of the comnpanies makes sense. Both use primarily GPL-licensed open source software at the center of their offerings. Both offer a variety of proprietary extensions and enhancements in an open core model. Both started around the same time and are at similar places in their evolution along with the commercial adoption of open source. However, as we’ve seen in other cases when open source matters more on an underlying level, open source software is somewhat of an aside in the SpringSource-Hyperic acquisition.

That is not to say, however, that this deal reflects a lack of momentum for open source software, whether we’re talking enterprise Java and SpringSource or applications monitoring and management via Hyperic. Some are arguing that this acquisition represents SpringSource protecting its own viability by saving Hyperic, which is embedded in SpringSource’s products and business. However, given the growth we’ve seen at both companies and the continued acquisition strategy from SpringSource, that does not seem to be the case. As far as the contention enterprise and midmarket organizations are turning away from open source amid difficult economic conditions, we are seeing the exact opposite. The risk/benefit question on open source software is now falling down on the side of trying it out, and open source seems to be passing the test. Those who continue to forbid or resist open source are sounding more unreasonable, particularly when there are most likely parts of all organizations that already know the benefits, including cost-savings.

We believe the main drivers of the SpringSource-Hyperic acquisition and the main value here is not open source software, but rather where open source software has allowed both of these vendors to go: enterprise Java applications, virtualized and cloud computing environments in particular. The fact that these vendors are joining up in the latest virtualized and cloud environments indicates they have the right offering at the right time, and we expect the combined company will leverage this even more now.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.02.06

Topics for this podcast:

*Defining an open source vendor
*The virtual desktop game opens up
*Canonical’s Ubuntu survey, Linux server market
*Marten Mickos moving on from Sun

iTunes or direct download (26:32, 6.1 MB)

Open Solutions Alliance – not off-course for open source

As chance would have it, just after briefing with new Open Solutions Alliance President Anthony Gold, who also serves as VP and general manager of open source business at Unisys, I read a fairly critical blog about Gold and the OSA from Glyn Moody. I believe that Moody raises some valid points and offers Gold the opportunity to clarify the OSA’s dedication to truly open standards and openness in enterprise software later in the comments. However, I must disagree that the talk of including proprietary players in the work of making open source software more integrated and acceptable in the enterprise is something new or attributable to Gold. In fact, it was at OSCON 2007 when I talked with former Jaspersoft CTO and then OSA spokesman Barry Klawans about the changing direction of open source, much of which involved more effectively getting into the enterprise alongside and working with preponderant, proprietary software.

While I wanted to point out that I was hearing about this direction from the OSA long ago, I don’t fault Moody for questioning what this increased involvement and influence from proprietary players will mean for open source software. Still (and much of this may be attributable to the pure mention of Microsoft), I don’t think the OSA is straying from its mission of making sure the enterprise open source coals stay hot by looking to integrate with proprietary software.

Another example of where we may see more of a ‘proprietary’ or traditional influence on open source: (as brought to us by 451 CAOS colleague Matt Aslett), the new U.S. President Barack Obama administration’s request for perspective on government use of open source and its advantage from Sun co-founder and former CEO Scott McNealy. It seems some FOSS supporters would prefer Uncle Sam turn to a more pure open source executive than the prior head of the formerly more proprietary Sun Microsystems. However, it does make some sense to seek counsel from someone such as McNealy on adopting open source from a legacy and history of more traditional, proprietary software adoption, which exists in government. Similarly, Anthony Gold and Unisys have a unique perspective on what customers are asking for: open source, proprietary, both or other. It’s also worth noting here that in its member predictions for 2009, OSA executives highlight the impact and opportunities of a new U.S. administration and its incorporation of open source thinking.

During my discussion with the OSA, we talked about the changing motivations driving enterprise organizations to use open source software at all levels of their IT. While cost certainly remains a huge draw from customers, particularly in current conditions, we’ve seen other considerations high on the list of customers: interoperability with existing, legacy, often proprietary software and continuity of support; access to a community of experts; and the ability to combine open source tools. All of these are pertinent to open source vendors, including OSA members and the organization as a whole. While there is certainly opportunity in making open source software tools work well together, there is equal, if not more opportunity in making open source software tools work well with existing, proprietary tools.

A few years ago, this was typically an immense challenge for open source vendors since proprietary vendors were hardly receptive to such interoperability. Things are different today, however, and as Gold confirmed and as evident by greater interoperability among different operating systems, systems management software and applications, proprietary vendors are increasingly seeing the open source light and seeing the benefit of supporting open source components: it brings in customers.

Moody and others that sound the signals of caution and concern have good reason to do so and we do need to ensure that open standards are truly open, but again, the fact is that there is more opportunity than risk in making open source software work with whatever currently sits in enterprise IT shops, much of it proprietary.

Open source responds to new IT economics

An emerging and ongoing trend that should be a concern to open source software vendors is the use of free versions, SaaS, easy deployment and credit card payment for easier access and low-friction sales by non-open source competitors. Proprietary vendors are finding that they can match, or at least come close to matching, the availability, cost and convenience that have typically been associated with open source software. If the open source players are not careful, they may be on the losing end of the same kind of disruption that characterized their own success. On the upside, we are seeing examples of open source vendor response to this threat as some seek to better accommodate pay-as-you-go and similar models that are part of the new IT economics (also considered cloud computing economics by some).

One example is open source BI vendor Jaspersoft, which this week announced a new e-commerce site offering training and tools for not only its paid Professional version users, but also for free Community version users, who nonetheless are willing to open their wallets for incident support, training, utilities and documentation, the company reports. This highlights a significant demand among customers: the ability to purchase what they want when they want it, whether it is incident support, long-term support, code enhancements, software tools, training or other services. Jaspersoft is not the only open source vendor that is looking to serve the many customers who only want a small slice of commercial product, at least to start, with their open source code.

There are other examples of open source companies, such as security vendor Untangle, that have found customers more receptive to flexible, a la carte offerings rather than packages or subscriptions, which still account for a healthy share of open source software revenue in general. Other vendors, such as Ubuntu distributor Canonical, say a lot of commercial business comes from customers asking what support and services are available after they have begun testing and using open source software, further illustrating the desire for flexible options when it comes to supporting open source.

Another case of some different pricing and availability of open source software comes from systems management and monitoring vendor Hyperic, which just released its latest version of HQ 4.0, making the software available in Amazon Web Services. Hyperic is among those facing the threat of non-open source rivals leveraging open source-like aspects to compete. SolarWinds, for example, mixes free version availability, low-cost, low-friction sales with a slick UI and easy deployment to present an appealing alternative, priced and purchased so customers can start small and go from there. While Hyperic’s availability for use and purchase in Amazon Web Services is the open source vendor’s natural progression and not necessarily a response to the competitive threat referenced here, it is good to see the company, among others, adapting its open source software offerings to better fit the new economics of IT.

451 CAOS Links 2008.11.07

A busy week for Sun includes new product releases and an annual shareholders’ meeting. Microsoft tries to unseat open source with BizSpark for entrepreneurs. Who is making money from open source? Obama: Open source President? And more.

Press releases
IBM, Sun Microsystems Launch ODF Toolkit Union To Grow Adoption, Community and Software Innovation Sun Microsystems

Sun Unveils New Systems And Storage Solutions For MySQL Sun Microsystems

Microsoft Jump-Starts Global Entrepreneurs With BizSpark Microsoft

Sun Introduces GlassFish Enterprise Server V3 Prelude; Offers Preview of Java Platform Enterprise Edition 6 Sun Microsystems

GNOME Foundation adds industry leaders to advisory board Gnome Foundation

Jaspersoft Announces Commercial Certification for Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server JasperSoft

Red Hat and Ingres Offer Open Source Stack for Independent Software Vendors Ingres

Hyperic Chooses LoopFuse to Strengthen Customer Outreach and Boost Sales LoopFuse

AMD and Red Hat Demonstrate Live Migration of Virtual Machines Across Vendor Platforms AMD

Socialtext Launches Widget Wednesday: a Distributed Hackathon for Widgets & Mashups. Also releases its OpenSocial widgets as Open Source Socialtext

OpenLogic Survey Highlights Enterprise Perspectives on Using Open Source Software for Cost Savings OpenLogic

FiveRuns and BitRock Expand Partnership, Bundle BitNami RubyStack and FiveRuns TuneUp FiveRuns

“New-Generation Workers” Want Technology Their Way, Accenture Survey Finds Accenture

News articles
Sun CEO Fends Off Angry Shareholders James Niccolai,

Sun releases MySQL 5.1 Lana Kovacevic, Builder AU

Opening the Cloud Erica Naone, MIT Technology Review

Is Open Source BI at a Tipping Point? Stephen Swoyer, Enterprise Systems

SugarCRM: Thorny and Open Source… Tom Foremski, SiliconValleyWatcher

Open Source Systems Management Ramps Up Sean Michael Kerner,

Ballmer: Microsoft ‘Interested’ in Open-Source Browser Rodney Gedda.

Ballmer dismisses Google Android Suzanne Tindal, Cnet.

Microsoft’s BizSpark and open source Savio Rodrigues, Infoworld

What Microsoft giveth, Jive taketh away Matt Asay, Cnet

Sun shines dimly in Big Blue’s shadow Neil McAllister, InfoWorld

This is the money being Made TODAY in Open Source Royal Pingdom

Cross-platform MySQL Runs Best On Sun Kaj Arno, Sun Microsystems

Red Hat Delivers Red Hat Network Satellite 5.2 Systems Management Team, Red Hat

MetaMatrix Enterprise Data Services Platform expands data source and platform support, ease-of-use and monitoring JBoss Team, Red Hat

Obama: Open Source President? CNN
Whatever Obama’s views on open source, the fact that Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos mentioned The Cathedral and the Bazaar on election night is a sure sign that open source is now mainstream.

GNUveau Networks builds solar-powered Linux computer networks for remote villages
“Scott Johnson of GNUveau Networks has developed a solar-powered Internet “hub” system (running Ubuntu GNU/Linux) that he builds to order in his Daytona Beach, Florida, home. His objective is to bring computers and the Internet to places that have no connectivity, no phone service, and no electricity.”

Microsoft self interest is its commitment to open source

Microsoft continued its moves to make its Windows OS and other software more supportive and integrated with open source last week, releasing Web Application Installer software to facilitate development and use of popular Web applications, including open source software such as DotNetNuke web application framework, Drupal content management software, osCommerce e-commerce software and WordPress blogging software.

The release and Microsoft’s statements and stance are being viewed as both supportive and detrimental to open source. While I would agree developments such as these continue to blur the line between what is, or is not, an open source vendor, I do not agree with Microsoft’s contention that all software players are becoming ‘mixed-source’ companies. Sure, vendors and users seem to care less about whether the software they use, support, sell and pay for is open source or not, but those using open source to make products move faster and cost less, such as Red Hat, continue to differentiate themselves based primarily on open source.

I believe that Microsoft’s earnest intent is to make open source on Windows, ASP.Net and Silverlight as simple and supported as open source on Linux and Apache infrastructure, following on its previous movement toward open source. Would Microsoft benefit from making these newly-supported, open source pieces and products less efficient or integrated? Would it benefit from seeing them sway toward proprietary licensing and development? I don’t think so, since the company could already create that without open source. No, I belive Microsoft is genuinely looking to provide as good if not better support for open source software as anyone esle. Consider Drupal creator Dries Buyteart (also Drupal-based startup Acquia CEO) and his excitement at the prospect (even though he couldn’t test it since he didn’t have a Windows computer). Sure, Microsoft may be less inclined to offer its support in more competitive areas such as the OS with Linux or office software against However, even in those cases we see recognition of reality and thus, collaboration, integration and support for open source from Microsoft.

For those who fear Microsoft’s talk of mixed-source means the company is looking to muddy the waters, a couple of things. First, there are a whole range of trends, issues and places — virtualization, SaaS, cloud computing, systems management, SOA, Web services, etc. — where the mixed-source mantra is getting pushed along quite well regardless of Redmond. Second, I have argued before Microsoft’s involvement in open source will rightfully draw the full and complete scrutiny of open source supporters, thus providing some good vetting to involvement by Microsoft and other proprietary players. In the end (and after several more confrontational approaches have failed), I think Microsoft may end up providing a significant paradigm for how proprietary software companies can successfully confront and coexist with open source.

Proprietary, open source systems management get closer

CA and IBM, two of the so-called Big Four in systems management software, announced this week a federated configuration management database (CMDB) system for interoperability of their software. Something like this comoing from two of Big Four (BMC, CA, HP and IBM) wouldn’t normally hold much meaning for open source players such as GroundWork, Hyperic and Zenoss, but it actually does for a couple of reasons.

First, part of the technology that CA and IBM are using to link up their systems management software, which allows it to share information between the two CMDBs, is actually open source software itself from the Eclipse Cosmos Project. CA and IBM said the Eclipse Cosmos software accelerated implementation of the CMDB Federation (CMDBf) specification and the two vendors plan to contribute code from their interoperability work back to COSMOS as reference code.

Second, we’ve been hearing from both open source and proprietary players that most mid-size and large enterprise systems management users rely on more than one vendor or suite to keep tabs on their servers, networks and applications. That trend seems to be continuing and all indications are that more and more open source systems management and monitoring software is sitting alongside the traditional, proprietary suites of the Big Four. In our report, CAOS 4 Managing in the Open, we we wrote about the significance of the open source players and others integrating with the entrenched, larger vendors.

It makes sense for the open source vendors to integrate and interoperate with the systems management suites from the Big Four of BMC, CA, HP and IBM, which makes developmental, divisional or trial use much easier. Why would these entrenched vendors want to integrate with other third-party monitoring and management products? Because customers are demanding it. Think about it, are CA or IBM better off with a continued strategy that says, ‘all us, only us or nothing’ or an approach that takes into account the reality of customer choice, which has broadened thanks to open source, SaaS offerings and other factors? Regardless of how deliberately the Big Four are integrating with open source and other components, customers are using different suites, both proprietary and open source, in combination. This is also helped by the use of open standards by both the open source companies and the traditional vendors.

This is good news for the open source vendors and even better news for customers that no longer have to choose between products that are too expensive and full of feature overkill, or assemblies of smaller, less expensive tools (including open source) that have often lacked commercial backing and require greater expertise to deploy. Now customers, who have commercial open source options, can use combinations of both, reinforcing the larger, ongoing trend of more open source and proprietary software used together in the enterprise.

Microsoft rides in to cross-platform systems management

While Microsoft’s focus on its making its applications (almost) exclusively available for its own software stack is understandable, I have often thought that in the systems management sector the strategy had the effect of restricting Microsoft’s potential market and increasing opportunities for its rivals.

The company’s decision to offer cross-platform extensions for System Center therefore makes good business sense, but is no less surprising as a strategic about-turn.

Specifically, Microsoft will enable the management of Linux and Unix servers from within its own systems management software. The functionality is based on Web Services for Management (WS-Management) and the OpenPegasus project, which is an open-source implementation of the DMTF CIM and WBEM standards.

Additionally, Microsoft announced that “it will be joining the OpenPegasus Steering Committee and contribute code back to the open source community under the Microsoft Public License, an Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved license.” This is the first major use of Ms-PL that I am aware of since it was approved by the OSI in October.

Sam Ramji points out that “it simply makes great technical and business sense to cooperate with the OpenPegasus community to build upon industry-standards based cross-platform technology,” and the System Center business would appear to be an ideal testing bed for increased interoperability and open source involvement from Microsoft.

When I have previously question Microsoft about the fact that its previous System Center strategy restricted its addressable market the official response was that the company was happy to provide opportunities outside its expertise for partners.

The new strategy will therefore see Microsoft stepping on a few toes, and it’s no surprise to the company also talking up opportunities its systems management partners. Specifically Quest, Novell and Xandros are all on board with functionality to enable System Center users to manage third party applications on top of Windows, Linux and Unix. In fact, if you read Joe Brockmeier, Microsoft’s new Linux management capabilities are all “thanks to Novell”.

One question that remains is whether users will trust the management of their Linux an Unix servers to Microsoft. My guess is that the new cross-platform features will be highly attractive to Microsoft-dominated shops that have made a commitment to System Center and want to reduce th number of systems management products they use. Unix/Linux-heavy shops are unlikely to be distracted away from their existing heterogeneous management tools, however.

Does your OS systems management got GPL?

That has emerged as the question, or at least a major factor in determining whether open source software works in the enterprise systems management market.

The three open source players that have managed mid-market and enterprise customer growth — GroundWork Open Source, Hyperic and Zenoss — all base their products, both community and enteprise versions, on software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

The three systems management ventures that have faltered recently — Levanta, Open Country and Qlusters — did not use GPL licensing. Levanta and Open Country did not even offer community or free versions. While Qlusters opened its QRM software in 2006, it did not emphasize its free version, which is now in the hands of the openQRM developer community. Open Country and Qlusters did base their products on open source software that was licensed under the Mozilla Public License with attribution. This is not to say MPL does not work in the enterprise (see systems management project Ziptie, licensed under the MPL). However, when looking at these six companies and considering their differences, the GPL licensing stands out.

Other prominent factors are the functionality focus (monitoring seems to be a gap in current offerings and competition, compared to provisioning, patching and other systems management subcategories) and interoperability with and support of Windows and other proprietary software.

This is not to say GPL licensing + monitoring = enterprise systems management revenue. There are other examples of ventures based on open source software, such as OpenESM, that are both GPL and centered on monitoring, yet never took off. However, when we look at the newest open source systems management ventures — OpenNMS Group, Nagios Enterprises and Paglo — we see that these community-driven commercial plays are sticking with what works: the GPL.