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Open Source Monitoring Systems No Longer Free for IT Operations

September 21, 2015

Is your company currently relying on open source monitoring solutions, or considering a transition? Open source software may appear to be the fiscally responsible decision, but that doesn't mean they are "free." While open source solutions are free to adopt, they aren’t necessarily free to maintain or support. A significant amount of consideration needs to be put into integrating these solutions.


Integrating Solutions and Opportunity Cost


Open source solutions don't always work out of the box; they instead need to be customized and integrated to your company's systems. Not only will your systems administrators need to dig deep to make them work, but they'll also be taking time from other projects and maintenance tasks to do so. All this activity comes at a cost, just not a cost you might initially see on your ledger.


Maintaining and Monitoring Open Source Systems


An open source solution must be maintained by your employees; it does not come with reliable technical support or a point of contact. Maintaining and monitoring an open source system may take many work hours away from employees, potentially even necessitating additional staff involvement. A monitoring system is not a set-it-and-forget-it-technology; it has to be constantly monitored if it’s to be of use.


Moreover, a deployment isn't forever. Upgrades, updates, patches, and other changes will occur periodically, which will again pull systems administrators away from other tasks and potentially cause disruptions in business workings. With an open source product, there is no lead or contact that can aid with these transitions.


An Out of the Box Solution


Though open source monitoring systems are often encouraged for custom use cases, the reality is usually the opposite. Though an open source solution can be tailored under the hood to a business, it's more likely it will be used in an "out of the box" design– unless you have your own development staff and programmers available. An out of the box solution is almost never properly aligned with a company's needs.


Comparatively, a purchased solution will often be customized before it is delivered, necessitating no additional skill set of your employees. A tailored solution will vastly improve your company's efficiency and productivity compared to an out of the box solution, which may not do all you need. Your company will need to develop a performance baseline to ensure the program and its alerts are aligned with the operation of your environment.


Fitting the Tools to the Environment


Tools should always be integrated to the environment's needs, rather than the other way around. When using out of the box open source monitoring systems, you're trying to fit an existing tool into your environment– often by modifying your IT operations. When using a tailored, commercial product, you will be purchasing a tool already altered to suit your company. The difference is significant: one will disrupt your business, the other will not.


Open source solutions aren't always a bad decision. There are times when an open source monitoring system could be a preferential move for a company. But they are never a free solution, and they shouldn't be treated as such. There are additional considerations when implementing and maintaining an open source solution that should always be kept in mind and included in the bottom line.



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