Open source IT management ready for prime time, says Hyperic CEO

MySQL and Red Hat JBoss are integrating the open source management APIs from Hyperic into their stacks -- a sure sign that open source IT management software is ready for the enterprise, says Hyperic CEO Javier Soltero.

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As open source creeps into core enterprise applications -- the MySQL database and the Apache Web server are two examples -- it should come as no surprise that IT management is also getting the free and open treatment.

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One vendor hoping to capitalize on this growing trend of open source in the IT management space is San Francisco-based Hyperic Inc., whose flagship product, Hyperic HQ, has recently integrated its API with open source software stacks from JBoss and MySQL.

In this interview with SearchOpenSource.com, Hyperic CEO Javier Soltero sat down to discuss where open source IT management stands today; how management applications must address both closed and open source software in order to be successful; and what the pain points are for IT managers today as they seek to monitor and manage their heterogeneous data centers.

SearchOpenSource.com: First, get specific. How do you describe IT management and the way it relates to open source?

Javier Soltero: IT management is the ability to build out and divert assets, machines and server services; to be able to monitor everything, control discoveries and do event management. It is also log tracking, configuration tracking and so forth. The key message for IT management today is that open source IT management is enterprise-ready. When I see vendors like MySQL taking a step toward that belief, it really helps validate that this is a real option within a collaborative ecosystem [Editor's note: At the time of this interview's publication MySQL AB and JBoss Inc. announced their intent to join Hyperic's Embedded Management program and distribute Hyperic HQ as part of their own open source products].

What are the pain points?

Soltero: Visibility. It's the ability to actually see beyond red and green lights for servers and hardware and key services and to be able to act on taking advantage of some of the richness various vendors put into their inherent products. Another problem is when IT managers begin to talk about data center sprawl. There is a notion that as we roll more and more technology into the data center, you -- administrators -- end up managing huge heterogeneous environments of mixed infrastructure technology ranging from Unix to open source to Linux and so forth. This means there is a new need to adapt to technology being put into production.

Also, there is talk about Red Hat wanting to deliver a single integrated stack for the benefit of the enterprise and, really, this whole stack idea is counterproductive to the idea of picking the best tools for the job.

How does open source help IT management when closed source cannot?

Soltero: The first point is around the plug-in model. Commercial closed source vendors cannot possibly stay on top of providing support out of the box for all the things that tend to be coming out. How the open source community model helps that is the moment an application goes into production, people have the ability to easily build onto it, make plug-ins and manage the technology that has just been deployed. You wouldn't have to wait for Hyperic to employ those changes into the technology to take advantage of them, for example.

Who are your competitors?

Soltero: We are providing a platform that is working toward a framework. On one end of that market are [IBM] Tivoli and CA and HP. On the other end is the open source monitoring application Nagios, which is very pervasive but addresses only one part of the management problem. Nagios does a few things very well, while Hyperic does the things that Nagios will never do.

Such as?

Soltero: [Nagios] does monitoring, and so do we. But, at the same time, Nagios is specifically designed to tell you whether something is working but not to tell how well it's working. Nagios is a very popular product. In fact, that's one of the very big reasons why we are so confident in our own platforms -- because of the strong appetite that exists with IT managers for that kind of product.

Who else can you see working the Hyperic API into their software?

Soltero: For SIGAR [Hyperic's management API: System Information Gatherer and Reporter], which we added to the MySQL license, any application which is cross platform could benefit from getting visibility into how a resource is performing.

As part of that trend, we would expect other open source products like Postgres and even similar commercial products to be interested in getting that visibility. The moment a resource knows the extent of its impact on the system it is running on, that resource can then make decisions on how to behave properly.

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