7 Open Source Tools That Benefit IT Operations Teams

Open source tools are often more flexible and cheaper than commercial alternatives. These seven can assist ITOps teams with their work.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology analyst

March 17, 2023

5 Min Read
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Most IT operations teams can't rely solely on open source tools to manage the provisioning, monitoring, administration, and other tasks at the core of their workflow.

But in many cases, open source tools can address the bulk of IT operations work. And given that open source tools are generally lower in cost and more flexible than proprietary alternatives, they're an important resource for ITOps teams to leverage.

That's why IT operations teams should consider the following open source tools to help them complete their work.

1. Monitoring with Nagios Core

For decades, Nagios has been one of the most popular open source monitoring tools. And although monitoring and observability requirements have changed significantly in recent years, due to the advent of technologies like microservices and containers, modern versions of Nagios are capable of addressing new monitoring needs.

ITOps teams looking for a free, open source monitoring tool should therefore consider Nagios Core, the modern, fully open source implementation of Nagios.

2. Terraform for IaC

There are a variety of proprietary and open source infrastructure-as-code, or IaC, tools available, which let ITOps teams provision resources using a code-based approach.

Among the open source options, Terraform is one of the most popular and powerful. Terraform can address a wide variety of IaC use cases, and it works with virtually any type of resource — unlike some other IaC tools, which work only with certain environments or platforms.

Related:Top 10 Open Source Software Security Risks for IT Pros

Terraform also benefits from backing by a commercial vendor, HashiCorp, which makes enterprise features and paid support options available to ITOps teams that want them — although the basic version of Terraform is free and open source.

3. Nmap, the Open Source Network Scanning Tool

Need to scan your network for unmanaged hosts that should be shut down? Want to track the operating system version of each machine on your network? Need to find out which services are running on each server?

You can do all of this and much more with Nmap, the open source network scanning tool. Nmap can perform a variety of network scans and collect all manner of data over the network, without having to install agents on individual hosts.

Nmap is a CLI tool that can be a bit complicated to use compared with commercial network scanners (although Nmap can be simplified by taking advantage of graphical interface add-ons), but for ITOps teams in search of a free, powerful, and fully open source network scanner, Nmap is the obvious solution.

Related:IT Operations vs. DevOps: What's the Difference?

4. osTicket for Ticketing and ITSM

Tracking support requests and workflows can be one of the most complex responsibilities of IT operations teams. A variety of commercial platforms are designed to streamline this process, but for ITOps engineers looking for an open source solution, osTicket is a popular choice.

osTicket provides a web-based ticketing platform for managing support requests. It can also handle certain IT service management requirements (although it would be a stretch to call osTicket a complete ITSM solution).

5. Remmina, an Open Source Tool for Remote Support

Being able to log into systems remotely saves IT operations teams a lot of time. And although most operating systems offer native tools and protocols (like Windows Remote Desktop) that enable remote access, the problem many ITOps teams face is each OS's native tools don't usually support other types of operating systems. That means engineers are left to juggle multiple tools to support multiple types of systems.

Tools like Remmina were designed to solve this problem. Remmina is an open source remote desktop tool that supports all of the major remote desktop protocols — including Windows RDP, SSH, VNC, and others — so that IT teams can log into any and all systems and manage them using a centralized platform.

6. Backup and Recovery with Clonezilla

The open source ecosystem is rife with tools to support data backup and recovery. If I had to choose the single most useful open source backup solution, however, I'd pick Clonezilla. Clonezilla is an open source disk and partition imaging tool that supports all of the major file system types (including those used on both Windows and Linux). It also works locally as well as over the network, and it has an unattended-mode feature, which helps to scale backup and recovery operations.

7. Keycloak for Identity Management

If you're an ITOps team tasked with providing identity management and single sign-on functionality for your business, consider Keycloak, an open source tool that centralizes user identity management and authentication. Keycloak supports all of the major identity management protocols (such as OAuth and SAML), and it provides a convenient graphical admin interface for easy management.

Conclusion: Simplifying ITOps Through Open Source

Again, it's hard to imagine an IT operations team meeting its tooling requirements through open source software alone.

But for most ITOps requirements — like network scanning, identity management, backup and recovery, and beyond — engineers can take advantage of reliable, user-friendly open source solutions that work at least as well in many cases as commercial alternatives — and that cost less and are more flexible, too.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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