One of the universal constants of open source technology is that there are very few constants. If there is a problem to be solved, or a task to accomplish, it's a fair bet that there will be multiple projects/applications/approaches to that problem. This is why we don't have one distribution, one browser, one office suite. When developers think they have a better way to build a mousetrap, open source licensing and culture allows them to go off on their own and make that mousetrap.
This tendency for diversity extends to the open source systems management community... there are a number of systems management and monitoring platforms, and a plethora of monitoring tools and plug-ins for those platforms. For sysadmins who need to find something to help them, it can be a daunting process simply to find these tools, let alone figure out how they work.
I spoke with Tara Spalding, VP of Marketing at GroundWork, about the new site and why it could fill a central role.
"There are 500 or so open source developers around the world working on monitoring," Spalding described, "with some working on the core platforms and many more working on the plug-ins." The problem is, there are over 200 Web sites dedicated to IT monitoring and systems management tools. These sites are not only numerous, but are also inconsistent to how they present information to visitors. The mission of MonitoringForge is to lend continuity to all these different sources of information and community.
But it raises the question: why isn't MonitoringForge just going to be site #201 in the list of monitoring sites?
According to Spalding, the site itself is not all about Groundwork. "The site is agnostic," she explained. "Zenoss has agreed to participate, as well as other IT management companies." In fact, 1,700 open source projects and plugins are ready to go now for MonitoringForge visitors.
The reason for such a high participation is that projects can participate by hosting their code directly on MonitoringForge, or create a project front-end that passes through to the existing development site. The Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) project is an example of such a site, which integrates the MonitoringForge front-end, but eventually drills down to the MRTG native site.
This pass-though makes it easy for MonitoringForge to set itself up as a gateway. The proof in the pudding will be how seamless the site's search capabilities are for visitors. The site itself is officially in beta mode, Spalding emphasized, as the development team plans to add more features in the near future.
If you have an interest/need in monitoring and systems management, you should surf over to MonitoringForge and give it a good test run.