Building on Ben's post from last week on the OpenOffice.Org conference in Spain, I thought it appropriate to share some of our recent trials and tribulations with some other Open Source initiatives.
We've been taking a hard look at the Ubuntu 7.10 Beta, and with some very promising results. The Compix GNOME desktop is fantastic, as are the bundled Open Office 2.3 components, the Mozilla Thunderbird mail reader and the Synaptic Package Manager. The only serious deficiency we've come across is the included Evolution mail client, which based on the doc showed plenty of promise. Evolution, an Open Source product developed by Novell, is the Swiss Army of mail readers. It offers connectivity not only to POP3 and IMAP but also MS Exchange via WEBDAV. This last point is important as you not only get e-mail from your Exchange environment, but also synchronized contacts and calendar entries. For those of us with mobile devices that sync up to the Exchange backend, this provides a seamless user experience. That said, I regret to inform you that we have yet to get the Evolution 2.12 Exchange connector working -- its just down right flaky. If anyone knows how to get the Evolution 2.12 client up and running with Exchange, please let me know.
On a positive note, we upgraded our management platform to the Zenoss 2.1 (2.091) Beta release and it performs flawlessly. The drill down integration of device locations with Google Maps on the Zenoss dashboard is a nice touch. The Flash-based network topology maps are well done, as are the overall UI improvements in the Web interface. We've already used the new Zenpacks facility for keeping track of and sharing local Zenoss customizations, specifically for our custom stats collection for our NetApp storage cluster. We're currently doing a thorough walk through on the JMX monitoring facility in 2.1 -- we're looking forward to having some additional visibility into our Java environment. The folks at Zenoss also have some extra added goodies you get when you sign up for paid support. The Zenoss Exchange Zenpack (which gives you in-depth monitoring of your MS Exchange infrastructure) is one of them. I know this is bait to get customers interested in signing up for support, but it rubs me the wrong way. If you're going to need support, then you're going to pay for support ... give the goodies away too guys. In the spirit of Open Source, we're sharing our Zenpacks, customizations and contributing to the overall betterment of the Zenoss Core product. Why hold back anything ?
Open Source is not necessarily the right choice for every situation. But when used wisely after proper evaluation, there are definitely financial rewards and many strategic advantages!