OpenNMS in LinuxPro Magazine

In the February edition of LinuxPro Magazine there is a nice article on OpenNMS.

Called “Big Time“, the author Kurt Seifried discusses using OpenNMS to monitor very large networks.

It is a pretty positive article. The only complaint I can raise is that it was against OpenNMS 1.9, which is our development release. In the section “What’s Wrong with OpenNMS” he quite fairly raises some issues with IPv6 support, but that code is definitely alpha and will be much better by the time 1.9 becomes 1.10.

Other than that, it is obvious that the author spent some time with the software and really “kicked the tires”. I am hoping that the article causes a few more people to check out our work.

Open Source for Sale

I have been asked to submit a monthly column to on running an open source business, based on the other two columns I have written for them.

The current column was published today, and it addresses setting prices for open source services. The next four I have queued up in my head are the open source sales process, business tools, when customers don’t pay and copyright assignment.

I hope folks find them useful.

I Like Traffic Lights

I am constantly amazed at the uses our users find for OpenNMS.

We just posted an interview with John Jennery, IT Manager of the City of Grapevine, Texas. Grapevine is the city just outside of Dallas/Fort Worth which is where the airport is located, so if you have ever flown through DFW you’ve been there.

In addition to normal IT management tasks, John uses OpenNMS to monitor the traffic light system for the town. You might not think that is such a big deal, but its importance becomes clear when you realize that this year a rare snowstorm hit the city just as 150,000 people arrived for the Super Bowl.

Check it out, and many thanks to John for letting us post his story.

Just a Quick Update

I have just returned from visiting the gang over at the Indiana Linux Fest in preparation for tomorrow’s conference. It looks like it’s going to be a great time, and I am humbled that they asked me to be the keynote speaker. I hope I don’t disappoint.

In other news, I finally have time to comment on a 451 Group post by Matt Aslett this week called “When commercial open source goes bad“.

To me, their new report on proprietary companies going open source (and in some cases failing) echoes some of my sentiment that “fauxpen source” as a business model is dead.

Specifically, I liked this paragraph:

Meanwhile one of the prominent “open source” systems management vendors appears to have removed all mention of its Community Edition software from its website, while the Community Edition itself has not been updated for 15 months. While the project is not officially “dead” it is, to say the least, “pining for the fjords” and the company in question could be said to be open source in name only.

Although they don’t call out Groundwork Open Source by name, some of my three readers may remember my post from last year about Groundwork deciding to stop publishing their “community” or open source version. According to Sourceforge it hasn’t been updated since December of 2009 (so much for release early, release often). Back then, when I asked Tara Spalding, Groundwork’s Chief Marketing Officer, about the rumor that the open source version was dead, she replied:

That is untrue, and the rumor mill is pretty lame.

I’ve noticed that Tara is no longer with Groundwork, and the rumor mill seems to have been validated.

But still, this morning, Roberto Galoppini posted on his blog about “open source webinars” and included Groundwork, when it is obvious that Groundwork can no longer be considered open source in any real fashion. I asked him about it, but my comment is still waiting moderation as I write this so I’m not sure if he’s seen my question.

I think that most proprietary companies will adopt some form of open source in the next few years, but it is one thing to use open source and/or provide some open source code and another to advertise yourself as an open source company. As an end user, you have to ask yourself if you want to use a product by a company whose marketing is that misleading.

I’m betting you won’t.

Google Names Winners For Summer of Code 2011

From Slashdot:

Google has announced the accepted projects list for its 2011 Google Summer of Code (GSOC) Program. Ryan Rix emailed the Fedora announce mailing list to let users know Fedora was one of the projects that had been selected, while Daniel Holbach informed Ubuntu users via his blog that Ubuntu had not been selected.”

I’m happy to say that OpenNMS was one of those projects selected. If you’d like to get involved with OpenNMS this summer and get paid for it, visit the GSoC page.

Add Thresholds to the Front Page

Ronny came up with a nifty little enhancement to the front page:

It adds a thresholds box under the outages box reflecting the status of unacknowledged threshold alarms. There is an icon reflecting whether the alarm is a high, low, relative or absolute threshold and a link via the node label to the alarm itself.

I added (with some help) a mouseover box that displays the log message when you mouse over the node label so you can see the details of the alarm.

We will be adding this to OpenNMS 1.10, but if you want it in 1.8 simply visit the enhancement page and patch the files. It doesn’t require a recompile or a restart.

20 Questions

I got an e-mail asking for information about OpenNMS. Since we really don’t have a great source of information for things like this, I thought I’d post my reply publicly so everyone can share.

OS support

Q: Which platforms do you have support for?
A: Anything with a 1.5 or later Java JDK. These include Windows, Solaris, Linux and Mac OS X. OpenNMS has been known to run on an IBM OS/390.

Q: Which platforms has native install packages?
A: All of the above, except for the OS/390.

Q: Is it possible to repackage your product?
A: Yes. It is 100% open source software so you can repackage it and redistribute it based on the GPL.

Q: Can we install the product on our hosts?
A: You don’t need to. OpenNMS doesn’t require software to be installed on all hosts, just the OpenNMS server.

Q: Can we run the product in a virtual host?
A: Yes, although for performance reasons it is not recommended.

User interface

Q: Which are the interfaces to your application? Web, java, flash client?
A: Web and iPhone.

Q: Are there any requirements on browsers or operating system to access your user interface?
A: No.

Manage data

Q: List all the supported ways of collecting client side data? (Example: Install agents, use ssh, snmp, Json over http or other)

Q: Is it possible to extend your product with our own scripts? If yes which languages are supported?
A: Yes, using any language that exists on the OpenNMS server.

Q: In which ways can we get access to the collected data?
A: Tell me how you want to access it, and I bet you can.

Q: How can we work with the data? Is the collected data stored in a open/accessible format, so that we can access it from other tools? If yes which tools can we use (scripts, tools…)?
A: Collected data is stored in round robin database files. You can access it by querying the application which will return it in XML, dump the data directly from a file into XML or use the JasperReports integration to extract the data as a PDF or CSV file.

Q: How is the graphing and configuration data stored?
A: In XML and properties files.

Q: Which levels of data granularity is supported?
A: For collected data? one second, although five minute polls are configured by default.

Q: For how long can we store the data? Will/can the granularity change over time?
A: For as long as you want. However, the more data you save, the more disk resources will be required. By default OpenNMS polls every five minutes and stores five minute samples for one week. Then the data is rolled up into an hourly average for 62 days. Daily minimum, maximum and average values are stored for one year.


Q: Is it possible to interface to your product via api or scripts so we can change configuration or retrieve data from other tools?
A: Yes. OpenNMS includes a ReST interface to accomplish most of these functions.

Q: Is it possible to integrate your product with Splunk?
A: Yes.

Q: Is it possible to integrate your product with user access control systems? If yes which (ldap, kerberos, active directory, other)
A: Yes – all of the above.

Q: Is it possible to add host/checks/graphs at runtime with out restart?
A: Sometimes. Some changes, however, still require a restart. This should be corrected by OpenNMS version 1.10.

Notification options

Q: In which ways can we get notifications?
A: How would you like to get notifications? Out of the box you can get e-mails, SMS (via e-mail), XMPP instant messages, microblog (Twitter), IRC as well as an integration with Asterisk to have the system call you. Custom methods can be easily added.

Q: Can the system create tickets in a ticket system? If yes, which?
A: Yes. Out of the box support for Request Tracker, Jira, OTRS, Quickbase and Concursive (CentricCRM). An API exists for others.

Q: Is it possible to set up a escalation chain of who receive the alarms?
A: Yes.

Q: Is it possible set up user patterns for who should be notified? (Timing shifts, escalation)
A: Yes.

Q: Is it possible to set up dependencies to prevent flooding of alarms?
A: Yes.


Q: How do we set up redundancy across different data centers and in one data center?

Read the white paper or the wiki.

Q: Can we setup the redundancy in master-master mode?
A: Yes.

Q: How can we scale your product?
A: Get a big machine. OpenNMS currently has one customer monitoring 66K discreet devices from a single instance, another collecting 1.2M data points every five minutes, one handling 120K syslog messages each minute, another monitoring devices with over 30K virtual interfaces per device, and one with 3000 remote pollers measuring performance back to the central NOC.

Q: What is the number of checks/hosts we can query from one server?
A: We haven’t hit a limit if hardware is not an issue, although I am sure there is one.

SLA (service level agreement)

Q: What are the options for us to measure SLAs?
A: OpenNMS generates availability reports based on outages. The data is customizable – so it would depend on what type of SLA you wanted to measure.


Q: Describe the license model.
A: OpenNMS is 100% free and open source software licensed under the GPL.

Q: Is there an extra cost to monitor test environments?
A: No.


Q: What types of support can you offer?

A: Standard Support, 24×7 Emergency Support, and Ultra Support (for those clients who have a need to present data from OpenNMS to their customers).


Q: Where are you located?
A: The east coast of the United States, with headquarters in North Carolina.

Q: In which time zone do you have office hours support?
A: Standard support is 7am to 7pm Eastern US time, business days. We do offer 24×7 support for emergencies that occur outside of that time.

Welcome IPv6

Just a quick IPv6 update. The team (lead by Seth) has been working for the last few months on adding IPv6 support to OpenNMS. We hope to release it as part of OpenNMS 1.10 in time for “World IPv6 Day” on June 8th. Matt sent me a screenshot from a working system where he had provisioned an IPv6 node.

Here is the availability:

Note that SSH and SNMP were discovered and monitored, and here is the standard SNMP provisioning event, but with an IPv6 address:

Still a lot of stuff to finalize before June, especially auto-discovery, but we’re getting there.