GroundWork Open Source, Roaring Penguin Prepare Managed Services Deal

GroundWork Open Source, Roaring Penguin Prepare Managed Services Deal

Roaring Penguin GroundWork Open SourceGroundWork Open Source and Roaring Penguin Software Inc. are preparing a technology alliance to jointly serve VARs and managed service providers starting in January 2009, MSPmentor has learned.

From my perspective, the anticipated deal will further legitimize open source in the managed services market. And it could accelerate GroundWork Open Source's push into the IT channel. On the flip side, Roaring Pengiun gains a growing partner that has been disrupting the corporate IT management market previously dominated by Hewlett-Packard OpenView, among others.

Here's more background on the anticipated GroundWork-Roaring Penguin agreement.

GroundWork Open Source specializes in IT monitoring and network monitoring software, and generally competes with entrenched enterprise options like CA Unicenter, HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli and BMC Software.

In recent months, GroundWork has been giving Hewlett-Packard fits by publishing price sheets claiming GroundWork can be up to 82 percent less expensive than OpenView. At the same time, GroundWork has been building an IT channel that currently includes about 30 partners, according to The VAR Guy's Open Source 50 Survey (complete survey results coming in January 2009).

Meanwhile, Roaring Penguin also learned to walk in the open source industry. Company founder David Skoll in 2000 wrote MIMEDefang, a free e-mail filtering program to block the spread of viruses.  Later, Skoll also commercialized the product at Roaring Penguin.

Fast-forward to January 2009, and you have the following potential scenario: Two small, but growing companies -- rich with open source heritage -- seeking to meld IT management with filtering software. And apparently, the joint engagement will push beyond corporate IT, targeting VARs and managed service providers.

Keeping Open Source In Perspective

In recent weeks, MSPmentor has pointed out that a range of open source companies (Zenoss, Hyperic, Untangle, GroundWork) increasingly target the managed services industry. Plus, companies like DirectPointe (the top ranked company in our 2007-2008 MSPmentor 100) and N-able built their respective managed services platforms on open source.

Still, I don't believe open source will lift all MSP boats. Many open source companies continue to struggle with their financial business models. And far too many software companies latch onto the "open source" term because they're seeking media buzz.

There's a place for open source in the managed services industry. And that niche will grow as companies like GroundWork and Roaring Penguin solidify their business relationships.

But like everything else: Read the fine print. All open source companies are not created equal.

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