I have noticed an interesting phenomenon in the web monitoring business and that’s the fact bigger Internet companies tend to build their own tools or they use open source tools and adapt them for their own requirements.
In fact at the Velocity Conference earlier this month, it was the first conference where I saw a lot of gadgets and free tools all built around web performance. The question is why are larger companies like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are going this route instead of turning to the bigger vendors like IBM, HP, BMC or Computer Associates? There are several reasons.
One reason is these companies are fiercely independent and they would rather go their own way. They would prefer to control and understand these tools instead of relying on third party vendors and consultants to help them.
Ultimately, these companies believe they are in a better position to understand what needs to be measured and optimized on their servers.
Another reason is these companies were built from the ground-up by geeks and they don’t feel they have to spend a ton of money from a vendor to help them build what they can do themselves. When it comes down to it, everyone (including the customers) knows that the big four’s tool sets are overpriced, difficult to install and maintain and very inflexible. That’s why in many ways it’s preferable for these companies to build their own.
Finally, these companies have extremely heterogeneous computing environments with lots of servers and large IT departments. This means they have the staff to build monitoring tools that take their unique requirements into account and that can scale to the required levels of larger organizations with huge amounts of traffic.
But can your smaller organization use these tools too?
As matter of fact, many of these companies are building their own web site monitoring tools, then open sourcing them, making them available for anyone to use. This allows you to take advantage of the hard work and investment these companies already made in these tools and use them in your organization. It’s a tremendous opportunity, but it’s not for everyone.
While you can customize these tools to meet your requirements, it requires you to do lot of the heavy lifting. Some companies are not going to be prepared to do that for a number of reasons. In some instances, you simply don’t have the staff to do it.
In others, it’s just easier to hand the keys over to a vendor because you don’t want to be in the monitoring tools business. You want to leave it to someone who is 100 percent focused on that.
Often in web site monitoring, what’s good for the big boys is probably good for you too, but in the case of going with pre-packaged versus free and open source tools, you have to weigh what’s right for your organization.
Are you using a vendor or building your own?