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SourceLabs and Collaborative IT Management

EMC looks to have purchased most of SourceLabs, an open source software support company (who was a RedMonk client a little while ago). This is worth noting here, as SourceLabs was of early interest to me around the idea of Collaborative IT Management.

Crowdsourcing Diagnostics

At the time, and still it seems, they’d begin to build up a system that would identify bugs and other problems and help automate diagnosing those problems at scale. The idea was to build up a bunch of metaphoric “fingerprints” and other heuristics that would admins start identifying problems in the open source software they were supporting. Or, as <a href=""I described it at the time:

  1. A problem occurs on your system.
  2. The “adaptive diagnostic probe” takes a fingerprint of that problem.
  3. The fingerprint is sent up to SourceLab’s fingerprint database.
  4. SourceLabs compares that fingerprint to all the other fingerprints in the database, trying to find past occurrences of the problem.
  5. If it finds a match, then it can bring in the “profile” of that problem, including how to fix it, what other people are saying, etc.

This is similar to what you see in other Collaborative IT Management offerings, like SplunkBase for example.

EMC’s Interest

The word/speculation is that EMC is interested in SourceLabs to help with it’s cloud suite, namely Atmos. As Jon Brodkin writes in Network World:

The second of these two cloud offerings is the focus of the SourceLabs acquisition, according to Ogrodnick. That would be Atmos, a software platform designed to manage petabytes of information across tens or hundreds of geographic locations.

One of EMC’s goals with Atmos is to automate the management of huge storage volumes across wide distances, and provide auto-healing features to reduce the time administrators spend dealing with little bugs.


Databases of “fingerprints” show up occasionally in acquired tech companies, and there’s several you can find scattered here and there: Palamida and Blackduck has software inventory ones, for example, while AssetMetrix was acquired by Microsoft back in ’06. One of the more interesting aspects of moving IT management – and enterprise software in general – into more of a SaaS (or, “cloud,” if you prefer) model is the ability to build up centralized databases of fingerprints and other “data-at-scale” info-piles. Those databases themselves might seem very valuable for acquiring companies that don’t want to spend the time to build them up themselves. See Stephen’s pieces on “telemetry” for more on that idea.

Disclosure: Splunk is a client, as was SourceLabs a short while ago.

Categories: Enterprise Software, Ideas, Systems Management.

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