Our friend, Michael Cote’, mused a couple weeks ago about the idea of the “little 4″ going up against the “big 4″ in systems management, the newly anointed “little 4” includes Zenoss, Groundwork, Qlusters and Hyperic, of which I am the CEO. It was amusing when Cote’ put this together, aiming at a new class of open source software companies that would go against the traditional goliaths in the marketspace – IBM, HP, CA and whats that other acronymn based company…. Oh yeah, BMC. Cote’s musings were to show that disruption is very much present in the industry of systems management, and we agree.
Some companies, however, have been latching onto this idea and using it to mint their position in the market. They created a wikipedia entry on it even! They love the idea of being the “little 4″. I’m running out of ways to count the number of times companies claim an intent to “take on the big four enterprise management Goliaths—IBM/Tivoli, CA, Hewlett-Packard and BMC Software—by providing 80 percent of the functionality for 20 percent of the cost.”
Frankly, this is reflective of the lazy, losing proposition of setting low expectations, a common affliction for some open source vendors. Who wants to use a watered-down, cheap alternative to the real deal? And who says that the real deal is the big 4? Is it their market penetration? The billions of dollars spent every year milking support contracts for shelfware orsoftware and services that never delivered? Sure, that’s success for them, but their users will tell a different story.
Hyperic HQ is not “OpenView, just cheaper” anymore than Apache is “IIS on the cheap”. HQ is unlike OpenView, and it’s unlike anything else on the market. OpenView is overly complex, it takes a small army to get running and the backing of a tyrant nation to fund it. Who wants a systems management solution that needs management? It lacks support for most of the relevant, modern software components in today’s Next Generation Data Center. Heard of Virtualization, HP? I didn’t think so. This is not Hyperic’s frame of reference, and it should not be the reference for any company out there looking to drive innovation into an existing space populated by lazy incumbents.
So, while its true many of today’s truly innovative companies are gravitating towards open source as a business model, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for less by using open source products. Look for real innovation out there – it exists, trust me. Open Source companies worth their salt use their own innovation, smarts and community to develop and evolve faster then anyone else – companies like MuleSource, Intalio, XenSource, Pentaho, Alfresco and, yes, Hyperic. They don’t just seek to duplicate existing solutions with different economics. Our buyers and users are smarter than that.
Don’t go for the poor man’s alternative, and definitely stay away from the rich man’s faux pas. Strive for something better.