¡Bienvenidos España! (our 24th country)

We just signed our first client in Spain, which will be the 24th country in which The OpenNMS Group has commercial customers. Just 170 or more to go!

The other countries are, in no particular order:

Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Trinidad, Malta, India, Honduras, Chile, Sweden, the UAE, Portugal, Egypt and the US.

Georg Greve and the Cross of Merit

Some people may wonder why we choose to hold the OpenNMS Users Conference in Europe, specifically Germany. One of the reasons is that we’ve found that folks in Europe tend to both understand free and open source software, as well as appreciating its value.

This is not to say that we don’t love our users in the US, we do, but can anyone see the US government awarding, say, Richard Stallman the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Well, Georg Greve, the founder of the Free Software Foundation Europe, wrote on his blog today that he has been awarded the Cross of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany. It is in recognition of his work toward increasing freedom and independence, and specifically for his work for “Free Software and Open Standards”.

Amazing, huh?

Congratulations to Georg and may this just be a beginning.

Upcoming OpenNMS Events

Things are really heating up around here, and there are a number of OpenNMS events happening over the summer. Here is a list of them and I hope to see all three of my readers at at least one.

The OpenNMS Users Conference – Europe (6-7 May 2010 – Frankfurt, Germany)

This two-day event brings together both OpenNMS users and developers for two days of seminars and training. I can’t think of a better way to quickly get up to speed on the application. I’ll be giving a talk on the upcoming OpenNMS 1.8 release. Registration is still open.

The TeleManagement Forum’s Management World 2010 (18-20 May 2010 – Nice, France)

OpenNMS has partnered with BT for the Cloud Service Broker (CSB) catalyst to demonstrate a proof of concept for a trusted cloud management platform. OpenNMS will form the management piece integrating with BT’s cloud services, Square Hoop’s configuration system and Infonova’s billing software.

Southeast LinuxFest (11-13 June 2010 – Spartanburg, SC, USA)

The OpenNMS Group is a Diamond sponsor of this great conference on free and open source software. I’ll be speaking and we’ll have a booth there where you can meet some of the team and see the latest in OpenNMS.

Conferenza Italiana sul Software Libero (11-12 June 2010 – Cagliari, Italy)

If you happen to be in Italy and can’t make SELF, that same weekend Antonio Russo will be doing a presentation on OpenNMS at the Italian Free Software Conference. Antonio is an OGP member and a frequent contributor to the project.

O’Reilly Open Source Conference (19-23 July 2010 – Portland, OR, USA)

I’ll be returning to OSCON after a year’s absence (Dave and Matt went last year) and I look forward to this premier free and open source software event (especially since it is returning to Portland, one of my favorite places to visit). I’ll be speaking as well as attending, so drop me a note if you plan to be there.

Dev-Jam 2010 (26-30 July 2010 – Minneapolis, MN, USA)

The fifth annual OpenNMS Developer’s Conference returns to the University of Minnesota for a week of sheer OpenNMS geekdom. We take over the large Club Room at Yudof Hall to code, determine the direction of OpenNMS, socialize, etc. The schedule is made up as we go, but the focus is on both solidifying our community and making OpenNMS the de facto network management application platform. Everyone with an interest in OpenNMS is welcome, especially if an immersive week with fellow geeks appeals to you. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.

There are a couple of other events coming up but since they haven’t yet been confirmed I left them off. I’ll post more as time gets closer.

Patent Absurdity

Matt Raykowski (an OpenNMS OGP member) send me a link to an interesting video about the issue of software patents. Since it is called “Patent Absurdity” you can imagine the bias that it brings to the table, but I found the video to be rather objective.

I think software patents are wrong, mainly since the whole idea of patents was to apply to physical devices. While the history of patents predates the United States by thousands of years, when the American patent system was created in 1790 it was in order to “promote the progress of useful Arts”. The basic idea was to encourage creativity by guaranteeing a certain window of time to profit from those creations. This, in turn, should cause people to create more things and everyone benefits.

At issue is the question of does the act of installing software on hardware create a new device? It’s not easy to answer. On one hand, imagine if some creative software type managed to build a fully functional model of the human heart – one that could predict the effects of, say, new medication? Is that sufficiently complex and novel to warrant a patent? At the other extreme you have companies patenting digital versions of a shopping cart or “one click” ordering, which I think is crazy. As much of an Apple fan as I am, I think the idea of trying to patent the motion known as a “swipe” is ridiculous, but then again many companies are taking an offensive strategy with respect to software patents to prevent others from coming after them. Sure, the touch sensitive hardware involved in an iPhone is obviously patentable, but can you patent, say, how the phone is held? Pretty soon we’ll have patents on how to walk and chew gum.

There were two points in the video that resonated with me. The first was an analogy of software to music. There are no patents on music, yet the music business has thrived.

The second point was that software patents work against the promotion of “useful Arts.” Fear of infringing on a patent can actually stifle creativity. To return to the music analogy, imagine if the crescendo was patented, or a “the series of a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note followed by a quarter note” (I just learned a simple version of “Ode to Joy” in my guitar lessons in which that was introduced). That is very close to what is happening with software patents.

This is not to say that there should be no protections for software. All software is covered as a creative work under copyright, and things such as “one click” ordering can be protected by trademarks.

Check out the video. It clocks in at 30 minutes but I think it is worth it to anyone interested in creating software, not just open source.

Welcome Portugal (Country 22) and Egypt (Country 23)

We have built The OpenNMS Group to be a company that can serve clients worldwide, without boundaries. I am always excited when we sign up any new client, but I really enjoy it when a commercial customer signs up from a country for the first time, since it validates that our methods are working.

We recently signed up two clients from Portugal, and a couple of students are coming in for our April Training (there are still a few seats available if you want to register).

We also have a new client from Egypt where we are involved in a really exciting project. Unfortunately, it is kind of sensitive so I can’t talk about it at the moment, but I hope that will change.

The other countries are, in no particular order:

Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Trinidad, Malta, India, Honduras, Chile, Sweden, the UAE and the US.