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Open source IT Management, virtualization, and cloud use – Zenoss Survey

RedMonk client Zenoss recently did a couple surveys over its user base asking about open source, virtualization, and cloud computing use. Zenoss’ Mark Hinkle and I go over the results of that survey in this brief video, with plenty of the charts and graphs to follow.

The results were interesting, and in my experience have been matching up with both anecdotal data and other surveys I’ve been looking at. The adoption of open source in IT Management seems to have gone more mainstream than not; virtualization seems to be VMWare, Hyper-V, and then Xen or KVM; and while lower costs drive rabid interest in using cloud, most prospective users are still concerned about security and other fundamentals.

In addition to the video, for more info check out Zenoss’ report on the virtualization and cloud aspects of the survey as well as their info-graphic and summary of the open source usage survey.


Michael Coté: Well, hello everybody! Here we are in the lovely RedMonk Austin office. I am Michael Coté, as always, available at, and I am joined by a guest here.

Mark Hinkle: I am Mark Hinkle from Zenoss, where I am the VP of Community.

Michael Coté: What we are going to talk about today is, you guys recently put out a survey among your user base, basically about a — it was kind of a mixture of what you think of Open Source, to paraphrase it, and then also kind of some usage metrics about virtualization and cloud use and things like that.

So if I remember right, basically you had multiple surveys that you guys conducted at various places and times and kind of combined them together.

Mark Hinkle: The first survey we did was among the attendees at USENIX LISA, and LISA stands for Large Installation System Administrator Conference. We also did a survey of the same questions among the Zenoss Open Source user base.

So at LISA, the demographic are usually server administrators for organizations with large numbers of virtual or physical servers, so 500 or more. And then among our user base, we have a broad variety of people who do networking, server application virtualization, and gave us a more rounded view of IT management. Then we asked them about their Open Source usage and their general systems manage usage.

Michael Coté: And were they all Zenoss users or customers?

Mark Hinkle: All users of Zenoss.

Michael Coté: Okay. You guys actually pulled together a presentation that highlights some of the more interesting findings. So I wanted to kind of go over some of those things, and the first one, basically that a lot of people pay attention to is, I guess you could call it the mainstreamization of using Open Source.

Mark Hinkle: I think that overall the shift was, everybody knows that they are using Open Source and they are fine with it. I think there was a large percentage of the early adopters that say no big deal, but I think there’s also a shift now of that, if you go with Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Curve, I think more of the mainstream now is adopting Open Source and they are adopting it for business reasons and not for political or personal.

Michael Coté: Not for the rainbow and sandal reason.

Mark Hinkle: Exactly! I think that’s a big shift, is it’s legitimate now, and Linux on the server, Apache on the web server, there’s a ton of MySQL database, and then there’s a ton of serious enterprise grade tools out there that people are using to run their businesses, in conjunction with proprietary software.

So I think that in the past we were sort of Open Source apologists, like it’s good enough, take a shot, and now I think people just say, it’s the way we run our business.

Michael Coté: Right. So you are saying like that flexibility is like the trumping thing, and like what does that mean exactly?

Mark Hinkle: Yeah. I think that means that you are not — if you buy something that has distinct licensing terms; you have so many seats, you have seat licenses, you can deploy it on so many locations, all these things are one aspect of it.

I think the other thing is just the openness of the software; they typically have open APIs, the data is not obfuscated. So for example, in Zenoss, if you don’t like the way that we report, the data is there in a MySQL database and you could use a BI tool to pull reports.

I think the integrations, points, customization, we see a lot of people who are using configuration management tools in conjunction with monitoring tools and creating these Open Source tool chains, which are the output of your monitoring tool and forms your configuration tool and vice versa, and then you can now automate from that too.

I mean, taking tools, and I am speaking from a management standpoint, but pretty much any kind of set of Open Source products put together, you can start doing more tightly integrated infrastructure than you can a lot of times with proprietary, close source limited API tools.

After flexibility, lower cost was by far the biggest answer, but then easy to deploy, which I thought was ironic, because in the early days of — like even Linux, you do —

Michael Coté: Oh, like Slackware days?

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, yeah. You didn’t have that it’s a seamless install experience like you did on Solaris and Sun hardware. I mean, that was not the same — the low barrier to get deployed wasn’t there and now I think it is.

We also have quality, as ironically for a distributed — and a lot of these things are distributedly developed, their quality was very high in the list of why people wanted to use it.

And then the lowest reason, and we only asked five questions, was source code, which is one of the things in the early days of Open Source people touted as, oh, I need the source code. I think that was a security blanket. I think very few people actually hacked on the code.

Michael Coté: Well, also in this bundled survey, if you will, that you guys did, you talked about usage things, technologies people were using and how they were managing their infrastructure. So the first area that you guys went over was virtualization, which is sort of — I mean, it’s funny, like everyone is kind of cloud crazy nowadays, but really virtualization is sort of like the part of the iceberg underneath the water. It seems to be huge out there.

So like what — the big thing people are curious about nowadays, or one of the big things is, what the hypervisor spread is; like what virtualization platforms people are using, and what did you guys see in your survey?

Mark Hinkle: We saw that VMware, far and above, was the most widely deployed virtualization technology in almost 80% of the enterprises that we surveyed. That’s what we would expect. They have high penetration, Fortune 5000. They are enterprise grade virtualization and they have management tools that are good around that.

The surprising thing was that even though VMware had far and away the largest market penetration, there was still 20% of our users or more that were using KVM, Xen, and then VirtualBox, which is the virtualization technology from Oracle.

Michael Coté: So in addition to finding just sort of the usage numbers, the different hypervisors, did you guys ask questions about how people were using virtualization, how it kind of fit into their process?

Mark Hinkle: We asked them about their preferences on using virtualization. So did they prefer to use it versus deploying natively on hardware, and about 40% said yes, we prefer to install in a virtual instance. And then about 29% said that they wanted — they did whenever possible. So some applications that they felt like needed the native installs, they did it that way.

But overall, only 5.3% said they don’t use it at all, and 12.7% said they use it sparingly. So overall people’s preference in the 60% range is to deploy virtually.

Michael Coté: Right. So it’s at least peaked over the majority, if you will, of sort of like the way we deploy new things.

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, yeah.

Michael Coté: Also like with Open Source, you guys were asking like why are you using virtualization, and I think there’s some kind of obvious answers like consolidation and things like that, but what did you guys find when you were asking people why they were going through the trouble of virtualizing things?

Mark Hinkle: Once again, they said flexibility, followed by cost savings. The interesting thing, labor cost savings was very low, less than 10%, as was administration ease of use. So it wasn’t easy to use, because there’s a lot more — just by the very nature of virtualization and splitting up machines, you have a lot more servers it seems, it’s just the flexibility and how you deploy them still seems to trump ease of use.

Michael Coté: Yeah. I mean, basically it’s so much quicker and easier to bring things up and bring them down and deploy them and control everything, and that’s the kind of flexibility people are going for here.

The last topic that you guys talked about, and like we were saying, kind of once you get used to virtualizing things, it kind of lays that foundation of doing cloud computing essentially. So getting into the cloud stuff, like what were the kind of questions you guys asked in that area?

Mark Hinkle: We asked what types of data or what types of uses they were going to have for the cloud application data, virtual computing, and which providers they were using, and what their plans were for 2010 as far as adopting file computing.

Well, the number one thing that they were going to do with cloud computing among our user base was deploy Linux servers on the cloud.

The second thing was hosted applications, and I think that’s probably — I think that cloud computing has expanded to the whole hosting and this —

Michael Coté: Into SaaS.

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, SaaS. So people that were doing CRM Messaging like hosted Outlook, things like that or something.

Then number three was hosted windows, and then hosted virtual servers that were other flavors, so Sun, things like that, were much lower. And then hosted data; 25% of the users were going to do hosted data.

Michael Coté: So taking those desires like what was the ranking of the hosters or the cloud providers people were looking at?

Mark Hinkle: So the most popular hosting, cloud hosting provider, and it was phrased in the way that we implied servers, so people that are doing computing in the cloud, it was Amazon, which had 43.9% of the market.

Michael Coté: Right, sort of the VMware of the cloud.

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, and really they are the market leader. And you would expect that just by the fact that they are the low cost entry. So they are going to have the most users.

The thing that I found surprising with number 2 was Google App Engine, which is really sort of this app-specific compute environment.

Michael Coté: Yeah, you wouldn’t expect like operators, the sysadmin types who you are asking to — because that’s more of a developer cloud.

Mark Hinkle: That was a surprise. And then Microsoft Azure was — I was surprised that Microsoft Azure, given that Windows hosting was farther down on the other list of the plans than Microsoft Azure, their cloud hosting platform was number 3, with 22% of the people —

Michael Coté: And it’s a similar sort of thing, where it’s an application platform, they don’t really have compute, if you will. So that’s interesting.

I mean, being like a management company, I mean you guys must have been interested in how people are managing cloud stuff, and like what was the extent of management people were doing, like how were they automating things and setting things and things like that?

Mark Hinkle: And that’s actually the surprise to me at least is that, you now have the power to spin up hundreds or thousands of servers almost instantaneously, but they weren’t automating. So they weren’t automating the starting and stopping based on — it’s only 28% or so, we are automating the starting and stopping of virtual instances based on demand and other management tasks.

Michael Coté: So they are still doing a lot of manual work?

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, yeah. So I think that’s the real promise is, cloud has some of these advantages from capital expenditure. They have better flexibility in how you deploy it. But for them, the next evolution I would say is to really see automated management of virtual systems based on enterprise conditions.

Michael Coté: Well, great! Well, I appreciate you taking all this time to kind of share the bundle of surveys that you had with us. It’s always good to have data.

Mark Hinkle: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Disclosure: Zenoss is a client and sponsored this video. VMWare and Microsoft are clients as well.

Categories: Cloud, Open Source, Systems Management.