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GroundWork Open Source, an open-source management solutions company based in San Francisco, is taking steps to enter the channel by starting a global partner network for VARs and systems integrators.

GroundWork announced the new Partner Network at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on Aug. 16.

The company has promoted itself as a low-cost, open-source monitoring platform and is offering VARs and systems integrators a way to compete for midmarket customers against higher-priced solutions like HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli, which are more expensive and geared toward the enterprise market.

Tony Barbagallo, vice president of product management for GroundWork, said that by bringing an open-source IT monitoring platform into the channel, the company would allow its partners a window in the midmarket.

Barbagallo said the company wanted to focus on a channel program that offered “quality over quantity.”

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“We want a few high-quality guys to join with us, and we will allow them to provide the model to other people and expand from there,” Barbagallo said.

What the new partnership network offers VARs and systems integrators, Barbagallo said, is technical training for its platform, sales and marketing support, and back-end technical support.

GroundWork is also offering its partners what it calls “generous margins” on subscriptions to its product, GroundWork Monitor Professional, and 100 percent upside from the deployment and configuration services, which include installation, configuration and customer training.

Before the announcement at the LinuxWorld Expo, GroundWork had signed up a dozen VARs and systems integrators in North America and Europe for its Partner Network.

Novacoast, a professional services company based in Santa Barbara, Calif., was one of the first.

Adam Gray, Novacoast’s chief technology officer, said GroundWork has good management tools and capabilities built into its monitoring system. The company has also built a channel-friendly network, Gray said.

“They have a lot of dedicated resources and that’s a critical component to the partnership,” Gray said. “I think the steps they have taken have been beneficial for their customers, as well as their partner community. In small companies, it’s always a people issue, and you have to have the right people for the job.”

By the end of 2006, Barbagallo said he would like to have three to five VARs and systems integrators in each region of the United States—East, West and Central—as well as additional partners in Europe.

In addition to the Partner Network, GroundWork announced that it has started what it calls the Open Source Council to provide guidance for GroundWork’s projects. The council is made up of developers from best-of-breed open-source IT infrastructure and network monitoring projects.

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