Sourceforge eats its open-source dogfood

It's always nice to see open-source oriented companies using the software they so often crow about. Zenoss proves to be popular with Sourceforge users and the site itself.

You might not recognize the name Geeknet, but you probably know its popular tech sites such as Sourceforge, Slashdot, Ohloh, Think Geek, Freshmeat, and the recently acquired Geek.com.

When Geeknet opened a new data center in Chicago two years ago, the network operations team wanted to centralize management of hundreds of systems serving the Geeknet Web network.

Geeknet's servers run 100 percent open-source software, including CentOS Linux, and a number of open-source Web servers, mail servers, databases (MySQL, Postgres, Memchache), along with a large number of source code repositories running Subversion.

The company needed a monitoring and management solution that was scalable and flexible enough to meet the needs of a Web infrastructure that serves well over 45 million visitors a month.

Uriah Welcome, senior director of operations, and Zac Sprackett, senior systems administrator, told me they first found Zenoss Core on one of their own sites, SourceForge.net, one of the world's largest collections of open-source tools and applications.

Zenoss was consistently highly ranked and recommended, so the operations team installed Zenoss and began to auto-generate configuration files for their existing open-source tools.

Geeknet network
Geeknet network Zenoss

Geeknet now uses Zenoss to manage a centralized configuration database that has a complete picture or model of their entire infrastructure. The ability to model all aspects of the network and keep a canonical database of network features was imperative for the operations team.

In addition, they had already invested substantial time in an open-source monitoring installation with Nagios custom scripts and service checks that they had no interest in replacing. The team wanted to go down a path of automation and provisioning for all services, including crucial functions like DNS.

One interesting aspect of this story is that the team took the community's views to heart in terms of the quality of the product and is actually using the software it has helped promote. It's a great example of not just eating your own dog food, but also engaging with the community to find the best solution to your problems.

Sprackett told me that the few times there have been problems, for example when Zenoss was mistakenly updated with the wrong parameters, the team was quick to find support in the Zenoss IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel (#zenoss) from other community members.

Another testament for not just the open-source software but the community of users that support it.

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