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Hyperic tries open-source management

Start-up applies the open-source model to the enterprise management software business.

Start-up Hyperic launched an open-source project on Monday around its namesake software, looking to shake up enterprise management software with a low-cost product and an open-source business model.

, the San Francisco-based company released the source code to the Hyperic HQ software and launched a Web site dedicated to users and developers, who the company hopes will contribute fixes and write add-on products.

Like other management software products, Hyperic HQ monitors what's happening on company networks and reports events to administrators. The software uses "agents" that reside on servers or network hardware to spot system failures and gather performance information.

The company will provide Hyperic HQ for free under the General Public License. It plans to make money with enterprise subscriptions, which add business-oriented features to the base product and include support services, Hyperic president and founder Javier Soltero said.

"It's all about disruption--it's all about ruining everyone else's party through open-source technology and pricing."
--Javier Soltero, president, Hyperic

"It's all about disruption--it's all about ruining everyone else's party through open-source technology and pricing," Soltero said.

The strategy is to provide a more functional product than existing open-source management software while providing a cheaper, lower-end alternative to entrenched management "frameworks," he said.

The four dominant vendors in management software are Hewlett-Packard, CA, IBM and BMC Software, which each have mature products.

There are also a growing number of open-source tools, including OpenNMS and Nagios, which is commercialized by GroundWork Open Source.

FiveRuns is another new company that's beta testing a hosted monitoring product meant to be cheaper and simpler than established management products.

Pricing for Hyperic HQ's enterprise subscription license is $780 a year per managed machine.

With the release of the Hyperic HQ source code--which is about a million lines of code--Hyperic is hoping to entice third-party programmers to build monitoring plug-ins for specific purposes, such as a specialized piece of hardware or software. Plug-ins do not need to be released under the GPL, Soltero added.

In addition, the company will release a client software development kit for people who want to write applications, such as a different administration console, that use the Hyperic server software.

"The business strategy is to have (Hyperic HQ) become the foundation, the platform of other management solutions which are integrated with it," Soltero said.

The Hyperic software's roots are at open-source company Covalent Technologies, where Soltero led development of the product. Covalent and its investors, which had put $10 million to $12 million into the development of the management software, decided to focus on tools for managing the Apache Web server specifically, rather than try to commercialize the Hyperic software.