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The appeal of an open-source MSP platform that is understandably the savings associated with not having to pay licensing fees. But open-source software products do have technical support costs associated with them—and for good reason. Open-source software can introduce complexity.
Take the open-source network management system Nagios, for example. Even though Nagios is a matured open-source product, new MSPs would have to spend an inordinate amount of time configuring scripts, defining services and network objects and creating reports virtually from scratch. Get used to the command line if you decide on a Nagios solution.
Although limited, the Nagios system is useful when monitoring devices that communicate with SNMP. Service providers can setup Nagios to execute events that scan for messages in a service queue. Likewise, applications can send messages to the Nagios service via command files. However, scanning through SNMP messages is quite tedious in Nagios.
Nagios developers recommend using an open-source SNMP trap translator located at www.snmptt.org. Without this translator, developers have to understand the SNMPs formats being received and write objects from scratch that can capture them.
After capturing each SNMP trap, service providers have to create shell scripts for each format to process them. The process is manual and can take quite some time to get right. Once service providers start offering Nagios services to multiple customers, they can easily spend weeks setting up each service.
Yet MSPs determined to use open-source software as an MSP platform should know they are not alone. A startup named GroundWork Open Source (See MSP Vendor List) is representative of a new breed of MSP platform vendor that bundles multiple open source tools such as Nagios, Network Weathermap, Cacti, and RRDtool into a single platform that costs less to support than if an MSP tried to tackle each open source application individually, said Tony Barbagallo, vice president of product management and marketing for the San Francisco-based vendor.
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