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Interoperability Without Patent Agreements. Really.

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I got the word yesterday that Zenoss, which has a nifty network and server management tool (cleverly named Zenoss Core), was planning to announce the launch of its new Zenoss Enterprise product today. I would have written about it last night, but we had a tornado warning announced, so I shut down the computers and hunkered down to watch the radar on TV. No damage here at the headquarters of LT, though the city airport got shutdown by lightning.

Anyway, Zenoss: if you haven't played with this app, I suggest you give it a spin. There are a lot of monitoring tools out there, but this is one that I think rises to the top.

How come? It's a couple of things: first, the web interface for the control panel is very straightforward and nice to work with. Second, the agentless control system is, for me, the thing that makes Zenoss worth a look. I have a strong bias against agent-based control, from my days as a lowly configuration manager. It seemed like I had to track the agents just as much as the machines and software the agents were supposed to be tracking.

Today's new system has the following features, which I grabbed from the press release:

End User Experience Monitoring:

  • Application-level end-user activity simulation
  • Scheduled execution of transactions with tracking of availability and performance characteristics
  • Applications supported include:

    • Web Applications (HTML, HTTP)
    • Databases (Microsoft SQL Server)
    • Email (SMTP compliant)
  • WYSIWYG authoring environment for web application transactions

Certified Application Monitors (ZenPacks)

  • Turnkey, best-practices monitoring packages for COTS applications
  • Includes pre-defined templates for availability monitoring, performance monitoring, event management and reporting
  • New applications supported: Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server

Global Dashboard

  • A single integrated dashboard that integrates information from many distinct Zenoss instances
  • Visibility into the health and performance of infrastructure distributed across many locations and management domains

Of all of these new capabilities, its the ZenPacks that are the most interesting. According to my colleague Mark R. Hinkle, who when he's not the VP Business & Community Development for Zenoss, edits Enterprise Open Source Magazine, these ZenPacks will allow developers to build their own custom monitoring tools.

Mark explained that Zenoss has kicked off the development process with the two ZenPacks (mentioned above) that will allow full interoperability with Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server. And no, they didn't make a patent deal; they used Samba functionality. Imagine that.

The other thing that intrigued me about these ZenPacks is that their distribution will depend on the developer of the add-on, not Zenoss. So, if you want to build one of these extensions and GPL it for all to use, you're set. If you want to slap a proprietary license on the ZenPack and sell it on your own, have at it.

In other words, these extensions will follow the SugarCRM revenue model for third-party add-ons and tools.

Not a bad recipe.

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