I hate being a system manager. Yet I, like millions of other consumers and business owners, inherited the chore once we installed simple networks for kids or employees.
Most of us do a very poor job. Proprietary tools are expensive and difficult to use. Open source has some interesting projects underway, but they don't work together. Attempts by phone and cable companies to build this into their networks through "residential gateways" have gone nowhere.
William Hurley (the illustration is from his blog) is keen to solve this problem. Through Qlusters, a Palo Alto outfit for whom he acts as CTO from Austin, he has spearheaded creation of the Open Management Alliance, which aims to integrate open source management tools so they interoperate.
Among the vendors signed up already are Emu Software, Symbiot, Webmin, and Zenoss.
"Open source and open standards aren’t that open," he explained, often due to a shortage of communication. As a result, "It can be difficult to get these projects to work outside their communities. Standards may have fees attached to them."
By working together, Hurley hopes to grow the market. "Traditional system management vendors look at the market as a big pie, and you want as much as possible. Thanks to commodity servers, system management is needed by guys with 20 Dell boxes. Instead of looking at it from a view of scarcity, we’re looking at it from the view of abundance."
Making all this work, however, will take more than just vendor cooperation. "We want to focus on getting active voices," analysts, users, even journalists. Especially users. "Every day I talk to a user who I haven’t talked to before. And I take notes. I share it with other people. That’s what this consortium will formalize."
It's all free. "The price is participation. Start conversations, have them out in the open, and you’ll become a leader."