Zenoss, maker of open source monitoring software, has added another managed services adopter: Digital Parallels, a master MSP in the United Kingdom. Although most MSPmentor 100 companies seem to be using traditional closed-source software, there are niches where open source alternatives are gaining momentum. Here's a closer look at Zenoss and open source in the MSP ecosystem.

Accenture, CSC, and Verizon have been previously cited as service provider customers. While those names have enterprise connotations, Zenoss’ latest provider is looking to take the monitoring technology to smaller customers.

Neil Harris, business development director at Digital Parallels, said the company pursues a customer base Zenoss wouldn’t ordinarily attack: organizations with fewer than 250 servers. “We pick up on those sorts of customers,” he said.

Specifically, Digital Parallels employs Zenoss as the software behind its Prophet managed remote monitoring solution. The agentless monitoring-as-a-service offering includes asset discovery/inventory, availability and performance monitoring among other features, according to the company. Digital Parallels services are sold through channel partners.

Harris said Digital Parallels aims to take on BMC with a less expensive solution. The company’s Web site claims its Zenoss approach will trim 50 percent off a customer’s monitoring bill compared with BMC, CA, HP and IBM.

Here’s where the small-customer angle comes in. Harris said larger enterprises deploying a product from vendors such as BMC tend to look at service management, not just monitoring.

“A big corporation doesn’t just use Patrol [BMC’s monitoring and management product, now a part of BMC ProactiveNet Performance Management] in isolation,” he said.

On the other hand, a smaller business may not need to use a full product suite. Just monitoring the uptime of servers and devices may suffice.

“That is more the play for us,” Harris explained.

It seems like a good deal all the way round. Zenoss expands its market reach downward, while Digital Parallels and its partners cultivate a lower-cost monitoring service.

Zenoss certainly isn't the only open source software provider in the MSP space. RiverMuse, an open source monitoring software provider, in early May 2010 launched a mid-market managed services push. And GroundWork Open Source is well-known within many service provider circles.

Still, traditional MSP software companies are quick to note potential challenges involving open source MSP tools.

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