Groundwork Monitor: serious network management

Open source Groundwork Monitor Community Edition is a powerful, flexible and comprehensive network monitoring and management solution.

Last week I began to discuss a remarkable virtual-appliance-based system for network monitoring and management called Groundwork Monitor Community Edition.

What Groundwork has done is to package Nagios, a free, open source, network management system along with a suite of supporting tools in a VMware appliance to create a product that is not only powerful but also basically turnkey.

Let me digress and note that no one produces virtual appliances based on Windows because of licensing issues, which is a shame because it would make evaluation of many Windows products much easier. There has to be some way to build a skeleton virtual appliance that you could somehow shoehorn your own copy of Windows into . . . anyone?

Anyway, Groundwork Monitor 5.2.1 is built on Centos Release 5 and licensed under the GNU Public License (GPL v2). The actual management system is, as I mentioned, based on Nagios 2.10 (not the latest release of Nagios -- Version 3.03 was released on June 25 this year) along with Nmap, Sendpage, PHP, Apache, MySQL, Cacti, dojo, fping, Ganglia, NeDi, Net SNMP, NRPE, NSCA, Ntop, Perl, PHP, RRDtool, SNMPTT and SYSLOGNG. Nagios also supports its own plug-ins along with the ability to integrate any command line program to work as an application to extend Nagios.

What this melange produces is a very powerful and a complex set of tools that supports role-based management, device monitoring, event detection, reporting with escalation, and mapping, with device discovery and multiplatform implementation along with both agent and agentless client support.

While the Community Edition is available as RPMs for SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, .debs for Debian and Ubuntu distros, as well as a bootable ISO image based on Centos available for download, it's the virtual appliance for VMware that is the simplest and fastest way to evaluate Groundwork Monitor.

Once you have downloaded the GZIP'ed tarball and unpacked it you simply open the virtual machine with any of the VMware systems (VMware Server, VMware Workstation or the VMware Player) and start it. Voila !

Access to the Groundwork Monitor system itself is through a Web browser, and while you probably won't need to log in to the guest operating system in the virtual machine, should you decide to do so and go looking for the root password let me save you an hour of research: It is 'opensource' (I couldn't find this gem in the documentation anywhere -- what would we do without Google?).

Using the default administrator account, you can log in; create users, roles and groups; play with the example devices already set up; remove them; run the network discovery process; add devices; set up alerts; generate reports; and so on.

Groundwork Monitor Community Edition really can do more or less everything you need in a network monitoring and management environment and can be used to manage systems right up to enterprise-class networks. But be warned; the learning curve for Groundwork Monitor is significant. On the other hand, being wrapped up in a ready-to-run virtual appliance at least makes the complexity of installation a nonissue and is a great starting point for a custom installation.

Now for the downside: As I wrote, Groundwork Monitor provides an enormous range of services but being built from multiple independent projects it is consequently very complex. The result is that the Groundwork Monitor user interface is not the best organized or easiest to understand. There is a lot of embedded help but the system could really do with a lot more.

Bottom line: Groundwork Monitor Community Edition (particularly in its virtual appliance form) is a powerful, flexible and comprehensive network monitoring and management solution. Definitely worth a serious look if you're running a serious network.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Gibbs

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?