I'm hearing a familiar trend in the managed services market: MSPs seem to be embracing more and more open source tools. The latest example involves Zenoss, a commercial open source company that specializes in applications, systems and network monitoring.
I am not suggesting that open source will dominate the managed services sector. But a growing number of service providers are deploying open source administration tools from Zenoss, Groundwork Open Source and Untangle. Here's why.
Different Cars for Different DriversOpen source tools like Zenoss come in two flavors: A free version (consider it the "Chevy") and a paid, subscription-based version (consider it the "Cadillac"), notes Mark Hinkle, VP of community at Zenoss. While the "Chevy"version is fully funtional, the "Cadillac" version includes features for larger service providers managing tens of thousands of devices, notes Hinkle.
Zenoss adopters include:
- Rackspace, the big hosting company chose Zenoss over OpenView, Hinkle says.
- OpSource, a platform provider that helps businesses move to SaaS. OpSource used Red Hat Command Center before switching to Zenoss, Hinkle says.
- Coleman Technologies Inc., a major Cisco managed service provider. The company switched from Dell Silverback to Zenoss, claims Hinkle.
Meanwhile, some top MSPs -- including DirectPointe -- have built businesses on top of open source. In fac, DirectPointe is now spinning off a new, open-source focused business to help further automate small businesses.
Six Reasons for Open SourceWhat's driving open source's momentum with managed service providers? Here are six possible answers:
- Fast Starts: MSPs can download code for free can get started instantly without signing complex licensing agreements
- Code Access: MSPs can get under the hood of open source and customize code to meet specific client needs
- Software as a Service: More and more open source tools are available through a SaaS model, further accelerating deployments
- Fast Answers: Many open source companies have strong online communities, where volunteers and hackers (the good kind...) are eager to answer user questions
- Linux: Now firmly established in data centers and network operation centers, Linux has paved the way for MSPs to push forward with open source applications and management tools
- The Economy: During bad economic times, MSPs are more inclined to aggressively search the market for niche solutions that they may have overlooked during boom times.
Of course, those are guestimates. Even if you think they're too optimistic there's no denying open source's growing influence in the MSP industry.
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