GroundWork Open Source Enters MSP Platform Ring

Open Source

The San Francisco-based startup on Tuesday at Interop Las Vegas 2006 unveiled an expanded GroundWork Monitor Professional solution that positions the company as new competition for MSP platform vendors such as LPI Level Platforms, Silverback Technologies and N-able Technologies, said Tony Barbagallo, GroundWork’s vice president of marketing.

"And we're looking for solution providers right now to help us take this to the next level," Barbagallo said.

GroundWork Monitor Professional bundles free, open-source software into one management console to perform the remote monitoring, reporting and remediation required in providing managed IT services, Barbagallo said. GroundWork Open Source provides support for its product and the individual open-source software components for a flat fee of $16,000 a year.

That price is a steal when one considers the cost an MSP would have to shoulder for supporting an array of open-source applications, said Chuck Edwards, president of Blue Gecko, a Seattle-based MSP that uses GroundWork’s solution to offer network hosting, remote management and support for Oracle software.

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"You see ROI immediately with GroundWork. It's $16,000 a year, which is $1,300 or so a month. I don't know who you can hire for $1,300 a month, but I certainly don't want them working on my network," Edwards said. "[GroundWork] provides such a degree of support for the open-source tools you use that if you add up all the contract support fees from the different open-source tools, it will be much more than the cost of GroundWork per year."

GroundWork has about 133 customers using the platform internally to remotely monitor their networks, Barbagallo said. Though only three customers are MSPs, GroundWork aims to change that. The company is launching an initiative to recruit solution providers and MSPs to use its solution as their managed services platform, he said.

"When you consider that open-source licensing is 20 cents to the dollar compared to closed [licensing], you definitely have a value proposition," Barbagallo said.

Atop legacy support for open-source monitoring software from Nagios, GroundWork Monitor Professional now supports open-source applications from Network Weathermap, Cacti, RRDtool, NTOP and NeDI, according to Barbagallo.

Network Weathermap delivers a visual representations of a network and its usage patterns. Cacti, a discovery tool, extracts values from round robin databases (RRD) with SNMP. RRDtool is a report generation tool, and NTOP is a protocol analyzer. NeDI, a network discovery and configuration tool, performs topology discovery and executes backups and restores of crashed network node configurations.

Many open-source tools currently are managed through command line interfaces, Barbagallo noted. GroundWork’s solution normalizes all of the data from the various open-source tools, dumps it into an SQL database and then pipes it into a intuitive GUI, he said. For auditing purposes, the solution also builds historical databases for each open-source tool.