Best of Open Source Software Awards 2009
InfoWorld's 2009 Bossies spotlight today's Top 40 open source products for business and IT prosFollow @infoworld
Networking and nework management
Two winners in this category will surprise no one, as Cacti and Nagios have been staples of network monitoring for years. Cacti is the current standard-bearer of open source network graphing; if a device or service returns numeric data, then it can probably be integrated into Cacti. Nagios, a mature monitoring framework backed by a very active community, draws on a huge collection of plug-ins to keep tabs on virtually anything that talks to the network.
A newer development is the emergence of open source solutions that can challenge traditional enterprise monitoring giants HP/OpenView and IBM/Tivoli. OpenNMS and Zenoss provide a broad set of features at a dramatically lower cost (or no cost) than these tier-one commercial competitors, and they can scale to monitor large numbers of network nodes. Both are very advanced systems capable of monitoring a wide variety of network devices. Both also provide means to extend the functionality of the system and to add custom support for uncommon or esoteric network devices.
OpenNMS is a purely open source software project, meaning that customers get the complete set of features available for free as open source. There is no "enterprise" version. Zenoss provides an open source version of its software with a limited feature set for free, and it sells a more extensive "enterprise" version of the software with support through an annual subscription. Because Zenoss's free open source edition falls far short of what OpenNMS provides for free, OpenNMS wins the Bossie.
In security, Bossies go to the flexible and secure KeePass password manager, the light and simple IPCop firewall, and the neatly packaged Untangle network gateway. We know it's just some glue and a pretty AJAX interface, but that's exactly what was needed for this type of appliance. Another winner is PacketFence, a simple LAMP-based network access control solution that works with a number of common enterprise switches and wireless APs.
Kamailio, the SIP proxy formerly known as OpenSER, earns a Bossie for being such a good partner to Asterisk, helping the VoIP PBX meet the scalability and reliability requirements of business environments. Where Asterisk works well, you'll likely also find Kamailio/OpenSER.
Our winning NAS is also our winning SAN. Openfiler can operate at either the SAN or NAS level -- or both simultaneously. It can talk to disk drives on IDE, SAS, SATA, SCSI, or iSCSI interfaces. It's compatible with RAID hardware from Adaptec, LSI Logic, Intel, and others. It can handle file systems up to 60TB in size, and it supports Fast, Gigabit, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet controllers from Intel and Broadcom, among others.
In spite of these bounteous capabilities, Openfiler's actual processor and memory requirements are modest. A standard x86 system with 256MB of RAM, 1GB of disk space for the OS image, and at least one Ethernet card is all you need to get going. Installation is as easy as booting a CD, though managing Openfiler will take some time to learn, given everything it can do. We're fond of FreeNAS also, especially because it runs in flash so nicely. But Openfiler is the bomb.
Reporting and BI
Open source BI stacks offer exciting, lower-cost alternatives to the traditional commercial juggernauts. Java-based projects Pentaho BI Suite and Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite dominate the open source playing field, and while their basic reporting capabilities are free, getting advanced functionality out of either stack will require a commercial license.
Other open source BI solutions, notably the well-rounded SpagoBI toolset and Actuate's scalable, RIA-enabled BIRT-based tools, show solid underpinnings but fall short of Jaspersoft's and Pentaho's more complete BI stacks.