Newsletter:1/Cisco Devices Interview

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Cisco Devices Interview

Recently, I sat down for an interview with Chet Luther. For those who don't know him, Chet Luther is a Principal Engineer at Zenoss, and has been with Zenoss for 6 years. He's the author of the Cisco Devices Commercial ZenPack, and in this article, we talk to him about this ZenPack and what it offers.

Recently, I sat down for an interview with Chet Luther. For those who don't know him, Chet Luther is a Principal Engineer at Zenoss, and has been with Zenoss for 6 years. He's the author of the Cisco Devices Commercial ZenPack.


Andrew D Kirch: Would you tell me about yourself, and your history at Zenoss?

Chet Luther: I have a background in UNIX system administration, networking and network security. I originally came to use Zenoss to help monitor the networks of a regional cable provider about 7 years ago. Shortly thereafter, I moved from being a Zenoss community member to being employed as the first dedicated support rep. Since then I've made my way into full-time software development, focusing on ZenPacks.

Andrew D Kirch: You're currently in the Solutions Department at Zenoss. What does that department do?

Chet Luther: Everything ZenPacks. From developing Zenoss' open source and commercial-only ZenPacks that help our users monitor and integrate with their systems, to developing the training, documentation and tools that make it easier for others to develop their own ZenPacks.

Andrew D Kirch: On to the Cisco Devices ZenPack, were you aware that it's the most requested Commercial ZenPack when Open Source users enquire about upgrading to Zenoss Enterprise?

Chet Luther: I wasn't aware of it, but given the ubiquity of Cisco gear, it doesn't surprise me.

Andrew D Kirch: Other than support for specific Cisco devices, what does the Cisco Devices ZenPack bring to an enterprise customer running a Cisco shop that otherwise lacks in Zenoss?

Chet Luther: While the ZenPack does provide very specific support for some Cisco device types, the approach we took was to provide generic support for Cisco's many platforms. For example, most of the Cisco devices you'll find in use are running some flavor of IOS, IOS XE, NX-OS or CatOS. By first providing support for these platforms, then building more specific support on top of that we can provide good monitoring support for the great majority of Cisco devices even though we only officially document what we've directly tested.

The ZenPack also allows Zenoss Service Dynamics customers a richer capability when it comes to automatically identifying service impact and root cause when it comes to deploying complex services on top of Cisco infrastructure.

Andrew D Kirch: You've been very involved in the Open Source community since Day 1 at Zenoss. How are you participating in the Open Source community these days?

Chet Luther: Yes, I'm an advocate of Open Source software in general. Zenoss' community is a great resource, and I try to give as much back as I can. These days that's mostly as cluther in #zenoss on Freenode, and by contributing to the wiki. While the Cisco ZenPack is only for Zenoss' commercial customers, I've heavily contributed to at least 10 of Zenoss' Open Source ZenPacks over the last couple of years.

As with most people who write software, I want what I create to be used by and useful to as many people as possible. I feel like Open Source software provides the greatest chance of this happening.

Andrew D Kirch: Will there be anything new coming for either Core or Enterprise from the Solutions Department?

Chet Luther: I recently posted about some very exciting work that's being done to greatly improve the way Zenoss does native Windows monitoring. This is all open source, and I think it'll have applications beyond just Zenoss monitoring. On the commercial front, we have a project underway that will do the same thing for VMware vSphere.

Andrew D Kirch: Chet, this is the last call as interviews go -- thank you for your time today. Is there anything you wanted to add?

Chet Luther: I can never miss an opportunity to promote ZenPack development. Zenoss will never be able to write every ZenPack for every purpose. So there's nothing more encouraging than to see some of the great work coming out of the community to solve monitoring in such comprehensive ways. Make sure you checkout the ZenPack Development Guide for documentation, examples and videos that will help you along the way. (Ed: Also be sure to check out our ZenPack Generator article, which is a great way to start writing ZenPacks.)

Author's note: Thanks to Chet Luther for taking the time to do this interview.