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Fast on the heels of the initial launch of its fledgling open-source alternative to the big four enterprise management vendors, startup Zenoss on Jan. 29 will launch the next release of its namesake software.

Zenoss hopes to set itself apart from other open-source management projects by providing greater levels of support and understanding of business requirements.

The Zenoss Core system provides inventory, availability and performance management as well as event monitoring. The latest release adds the ability to automate change tracking.

“We go out and use our automated discovery platform to see what new devices have been added and what’s changed,” said Bill Karpovich, CEO and co-founder of the startup in Annapolis, Md. “We can generate a report or generate an event that creates an alert on something that’s changing that shouldn’t [change].”

Also new is automated remediation of problems. The system allows users to build policy rules to execute the steps necessary to restart a service or execute custom scripts.

Zenoss Version 1.1 also expands the range of reports available and adds usability enhancements to its user interface.

Zenoss, like David, hopes to take on the big four enterprise management Goliaths—IBM/Tivoli, CA, Hewlett-Packard and BMC Software—by providing 80 percent of the functionality for 20 percent of the cost.

Like its open-source competitors such as Groundwork Open Source, Hyperic and Qlusters, it is seeing traction in the market among small and midsize businesses that can’t afford the high price tag of the big four.

“It’s a tough market to get into,” said Michael Cote, analyst at Redmonk in Austin, Texas. “To be fair, there is a certain amount of correctness that small and mid-market companies don’t have large and expansive platforms. This is a niche new companies have found.”

What new users at Windows application hosting provider Managed Web Services found most compelling is its understanding of business requirements, according to Stephen Ames, president of the Tampa, Fla., company.

To read more about open-source management competitors, click here.

“From a technology standpoint it works. From a business standpoint what’s attractive to me is that we get all the benefits of running on open source and we are backed up by a company that understands business needs,” said Ames. “By being able to pick up the phone and have them work with us to get the software running, we shaved gobs of time from what it would take us to do this.”

Although Managed Web Services is not yet using the 1.1 release, Ames believes the automated change tracking will provide significant benefits.

“One of the biggest causes of downtime is [operator error]. They do things that have unintended consequences. By being able to track [changes] we can do a post mortem on what they did, and it gives us a tool to automate documenting our procedures—so it facilitates knowledge transfer.”

Zenoss Core 1.1 is due on Jan. 30.

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