Zenoss VP Talks Training, Community, and Crabs

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 23, 2009

If you'll be at Ohio LinuxFest this weekend, then be sure to check out Zenoss Community Day on September 25th. Zenoss, the open source network monitoring software vendor, is hosting a free daylong event at the Hyatt Regency and Columbus Convention Center for its current users and anyone who wants to know more about the project. There will be plenty of hands-on product training, followed by a LinuxFest pre-party at a nearby watering hole.

I caught up with Zenoss VP of Community, Mark Hinkle, to find out more about this event and what's in store for the future of Zenoss. Here's what he had to say.

LH: How many daylong events like this do you offer during the course of the year, or is this exclusive to OLF? How's the turnout?

MH: This event is the second one this year.  At SCALE in February, we planned for 35 and the event turned out to be standing room only (with around 40 participants and drop-ins from the other tracks we ended up with over 50 attendees). For Ohio Linuxfest in the much smaller city of Columbus , we had planned on 30-40 people.  However, as of Monday, we have nearly 60 registered participants and we expect that we will have 75 total.  Given the success of the events so far, we will likely have a minimum of four next year. The next event we have planned is November 5 in conjunction with USENIX LISA. We likely will have other events in February at SCALE and if they continue to be successful we will try to increase the frequency.

LH: What are some of the most common questions the Zenoss team encounters at these daylong events?

MH: We get a lot of "how-do-I” and customization questions. Many of the attendees have been playing around with the product but have very specific questions of things they want to accomplish with Zenoss Core.  However, the bulk of the questions are usually about how to collect data from a wide variety of devices.

LH: As the public face of your company, what do you learn from your user community when you attend events like this?

MH: Sometimes they really surprise us, recently at the Atlanta Linuxfest one of our users, a large hosting company, was very creative in the way they auto-generated reports and emailed PDFs of their user's hosted account usage. Sometimes our community members extend Zenoss in ways we never thought and even teach us a thing or two.

LH: What's next on the horizon for Zenoss?

MH: We are very excited about a number of initiatives this Fall. In September we launched a greatly improved Zenoss Community site which unifies our forums, wikis and documentation into a single collaborative platform. We had our first user-presented webinar, part of a series of presentations from members of the Zenoss community.  We also started a community partner initiative that provides a marketplace for community members to provide products and services to each other including custom development, training and support.

We are currently beta-testing version 2.5 which is code-named "King Crab" (to date all Zenoss versions are named after crabs, since "cracking" blue crabs is a favored past time around our Chesapeake Bay headquarters). In addition to scalability and distributed collection enhancements, this version will feature an improved event-management console developed in coordination with usability experts and feedback from our community of users.  Other new and exciting features coming with this release will be previewed in upcoming betas.  We release about every 6 months, so there's always something new and improved on the horizon.