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My Views on OSS ESM (Part 3)

By John | August 16, 2007

Coincidentally, I had a conversation yesterday with two of the ten largest banks in the world. Both told me that 2008 looks to be a possible greenfield for some of their ESM initiatives, or, in other words, a do-over. Before I could even ask, they started talking about open source. One of the executives told me that anything is on the table and that some of their proprietary solutions are just not getting it done.

The press and the blogoshpere have recounted numerous conversations about how the big proprietary vendors are overpriced, too hard to implement, and vulnerable to certain open source products. Obviously, I am not the first to point out these flaws; however, for the first time, my specific customers are asking me about open source alternatives. In my little niche, I see some of my customers paying in excess of $10 million a year for ESM, and they are still not getting what they want.

To put things in perspective, most of the enterprise customers with whom I work fall into these 3 categories:

The other problem most of my customers have with propriety vendors is that they are always selling marketectures. Every two years emerges a new buzz, on which all the products suddenly focus. The ironic thing is that, even though industry trends (i.e., the buzz) change every few years, the CODE doesn’t. In fact, almost all the proprietary vendors in ESM are running with code bases of over 10 years (even 20 in some cases). An amazing number of products have become ITIL compliant within the last 2 years even though ITIL has been around for over 10. Besides, products can never define process; only people can define process and then force products into that process. I was just commenting today that I stopped asking people what their SLA’s are because it’s too embarrassing. When I ask, “Do you have SLA’s?” they tell me, “Oh certainly.” If I question them further, asking what their SLA’s are, nine out of ten times they would respond, “Uptime.” If I ask any more questions, I may as well call these people idiots, which is not a good idea if you are in the services business. Even 10% would say silly things, like a disk’s used percent or high CPU. Come on, dudes, it’s almost 2008. SLA’s in 2008 have to start with business services and work their way down from there. You can not do SLA’s from a bottom up perspective.

Which brings me to my final point: If these customers have an opportunity for a do-over (i.e., a greenfield), then we need to make sure not to make the same mistakes all over again. Sure, open source is a fabulous enablement platform for going greenfiend, but maybe we should look at turning this square wheel into a round one at the same time. If you look at the whole industry debate of the Big Four vs. the Little Four, you see that most of the Little Four are just replicating the same mistakes of their forefathers, the Big Four. I have been scouring the internet compiling information for my customers and my community about open source solutions regarding ESM, and I am not finding things to be that different. In fact, the only major difference is the lexicon. I have been recently looking for an open source response time transaction tool (traditionally called Synthetic Transactions). I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been pointed to curl or wget as the solution. Even when I use terms like SOA to open source vendors, they tell me that they have redesigned their products to be SOA-based. I don’t even bother to tell them that I don’t give a rip how their code was designed, that all I care about is how they are going to monitor my customers’ SOA. I will agree that most of the new ESM-based open source tools are very agile and have extremely youthful code bases, which is good. I am not, however, hearing a different message. The industry has clearly tipped, and some big changes are coming. Let’s just hope that in 2010, we don’t have to do a greenfield.

Here are the links of my previous two articles on this subject:

My Views on OSS ESM (Part 2)

My Views on OSS ESM (Part 1)

Topics: 451, OSS, barcampesm, barcampnashville, bmc, caos, cmdb, esm, gartner, groundwork, groundworkopensource, hp, hyperic, ibm, itil, nagios, netcool, opennms, opensource, oscon, ossesm, tivoli, zabbix, zenoss | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “My Views on OSS ESM (Part 3)”

  1. 42internetworks » ESM buyers: Help us, help you! Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    [...] Posted by on 17 Aug 2007 at 05:36 pm | Tagged as: Enterprise Software, BMC, Opsware, CA, IBM, HP, EMC, Solarwinds Some mornings you’re just not inspired and you need something to jumpstart things. Today was one of those days. I was having writers block on what to blog for this week. So I used this as an opportunity to catch up on reading other blogs. Before I knew it mission accomplished, I found some amazing and refreshing perspectives on John Willis site that really got the mind racing. Specifically, it was his recent posting on Open Source Software (OSS) and Enterprise Systems Management (ESM) – My Views on OSS ESM (part 3). [...]

  2. 42internetworks Says:
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    John, great posting – thanks for the inspiration this morning for some of my own views on VC vs. ESM at

  3. My Views on OSS ESM (Part 4) | John M Willis - ESM BLOG Says:
    August 21st, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    [...] My Views on OSS ESM (Part 3) [...]