Enterprise Linux Log

Apr 9 2008   3:17PM GMT

Construction firm turns to open source for systems management

Megan Santosus Profile: Msant

When Sam Lamonica first joined Rudolph and Sletten as CIO in 2003, one of his first orders of business was to stabilize the IT infrastructure at the construction firm. “There were all sorts of IS problems affecting the network and the applications,” Lamonica recalled. And with no uniform systems management tools in place, the IT group was essentially flying blind. “We knew we had a problem when one of two things happened,” Lamonica said. “We’d get calls from end users telling us an application was down, or we’d look at the servers and see that the lights were not blinking.”

A 600-employee commercial construction firm with four offices in California, Rudolph and Sletten relies heavily on its IT infrastructure to conduct business. At any given time, the company operates 50 or 60 construction projects at job sites that last anywhere from one to five years; each job site essentially operates as a temporary regional office that requires all the connectivity and applications as a permanent office. So keeping tabs on applications and the network from the company’s data center in Redwood City, Calif., is critical to keeping remote operations running smoothly.

In a previous job, Lamonica got to know Bob Fanini and Dave Lilly, the two entrepreneurs who went on to start GroundWork Open Source Inc., a provider of open source IT and network monitoring software. “The previous company I worked for – Phoenix Technologies – was actually GroundWork’s first customer,” Lamonica said.

In addition to GroundWork, Lamonica was also familiar with HP OpenView, another monitoring and systems management tool. “We really needed something we could implement quickly, so we went with GroundWork,” Lamonica says.

Within six weeks, Rudolph and Sletten had its first set of diagnostics and assessments, courtesy of the GroundWork Monitor Professional tool. Today Lamonica uses the tool to monitor the entire infrastructure, from enterprise business applications and email to servers and network devices. Reliability and stability have improved markedly, from about 80% when Lamonica arrived to 99.99%.

Gone are the days when IT was the last to know when a problem occurred. “We set thresholds, so that we know well before issues arise,” Lamonica said.

Lamonica said that GroundWork has changed some minds regarding the use of open source at the primarily Windows-based Rudolph and Sletten. “We don’t really care if something is open source anymore,” he said. “We just want a solution that fits our needs.”

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