Meeting the J-Team at

This week I was able to visit the Red Hat corporate headquarters in downtown Raleigh for the first time. While I had been on their other campuses in the past, this was my first time in Red Hat Tower, a tall building that they leased from Progress Energy a few years ago to turn into their HQ. While I was using Google Maps to get there (downtown Raleigh has a lot of one way streets that confuse me) it was pretty obvious where I was headed once I turned off the highway and saw the Red Hat logo on the top of a building off in the distance.

I am a huge Red Hat fanboy. First, I love where I live in North Carolina, and this is an NC company. Second, they truly understand open source and are able to help others realize the value it can bring to their business while making money at it. With a market cap greater than US$11.5 billion, this is a real company that is also doing a lot of good (for comparison, note that as I write this CA has a market cap of US$14 billion).

Red Hat gets a lot of disrespect in certain circles because it isn’t headquartered in Silicon Valley. There is a huge “not invented here” complex out west, and I think it is in part because the Valley has been unable to duplicate Red Hat’s success with open source.

When you visit the campus you get a sense of how the idea of open source pervades every aspect of company culture. Open source is about sharing and working together, and that can be applied to many things in addition to software.

Part of that is exemplified in the website I believe it was started in 2010 (prior to that, the URL pointed to Red Hat’s corporate page) as a method for promoting the “open source way“. It is sponsored by Red Hat but does a great job of not being Red Hat centric. This isn’t a marketing platform for Red Hat’s products as much as a platform for marketing the Red Hat philosophy.

Despite being less than an hour away, I don’t get to see the people behind often. I used to write for them pretty regularly in the beginning until time constraints made that harder, but we have a healthy e-mail correspondence. I do run into Jason Hibbets (author of The Foundation for an Open Source City) at conferences, but this was the first time I got to meet almost everyone in person.

The J-Team: Jason Baker, Jeff Mackanic, Jen Wike and Jason Hibbets

I didn’t notice until later that a lot of people I know at Red Hat have names that start with the letter “J” – even the CEO is named Jim.

I ended up spending about two hours there and had a great time talking about technology and open source society. Red Hat looks like a great place to work, and the red fedora is pretty much everywhere.

Thanks to a swag trade with my friend Kevin Sonney many years ago (at least a decade), I have an authentic Red Hat fedora and I learned that it is truly “old skool” due to its having a gold Red Hat logo on the inside. Cool.

I am hoping that my schedule will free up enough in 2015 that I can write for them some more. As I was telling stories, Jason B. or Jen would jump in with “that could be an article”.

In any case, with over 400,000 page views per month at they are obviously doing something right, and it has earned a prominent place in my RSS feed. I look forward to visiting the Red Hat HQ and seeing them again soon.

OpenNMS-based App Wins Digital Jersey Hackathon

I was delighted to find out that an Android app using OpenNMS as the backend won the “Best App” prize at the first ever Jersey Hackathon.

Note: This is Jersey as in the island and not Jersey as in New.

The Open Alert “Man on Site” app is a small Android application that is designed to track the activities of people working alone at a remote site. From the wiki:

When activated this reports the location of the phone on a regular basis back to a central OpenNMS server. OpenNMS is configured to plot the current location and status of the device on a geographical map (Open Streetmap).

The App has four buttons;

Start Job – This is pressed by the worker when they start lone working on site. This starts a timer in the local App and on OpenNMS. The local timer will generate an alarm on the local device if the user forgets to report in after a set time.

Report In – This must be pressed when prompted by the local timer. If it is pressed both the timer in OpenNMS and the local device will be reset. If it isn’t pressed then OpenNMS will escalate the ‘Man on site’ event to the next level of severity and notify the OpenNMS operator that there is a problem. (Obviously the local timer should be set to 5-10 minutes less than the OpenNMS time out.) OpenNMS will keep escalating the alarm until it is signalled as critical. If the alarm is escalated, then there should be manual processes in place to contact the worker by other means or send someone else to site to make sure they are OK.

Finish Job – This should be pressed when the worker leaves site. The man on site alarm is cleared in OpenNMS and no further escalation takes place.

Panic – If the panic button is pressed, an immediate critical alarm is created in OpenNMS indicating that the worker on site is in trouble and needs help.

OpenNMS maintains a log of all of the movements of the user and also of the time of starting work / stopping work / panic events which could be important for triage if an incident happens.

Congratulations to the authors, Craig Gallen and Mark Wharton, who created this during the 48 hours of the Hackathon. We built OpenNMS to be a platform and not just an application and this is one example of what can be created leveraging it.

More information can be found on the UK OpenNMS Site and the code is available on Github.

Anarchy OpenNMS in the UK

OpenNMS has a strong presence in both Europe and the UK, and much of the UK effort is driven by Dr. Craig Gallen.

He has created a new website and newsletter aimed at OpenNMS users in the United Kingdom and Ireland (but, of course, it is open to anyone).

The new website can be found at and I think it is pretty spiffy (“spiffy” is a proper English word, correct?). There is also an occasional newletter list focusing on OpenNMS events in the region, so if you are interested in such things please register.

The first big push to raise awareness of OpenNMS as well as provide training is a series of OpenNMS workshops to be held around the area. In Craigs words:

Don’t just expect to be lectured to. This will be a participative event. These workshops will stretch your understanding of Operational Support systems and help you to begin thinking through how you can adapt OpenNMS to address some of the key problems in Network and Service Management.

London – Monday 30 June 2014

Location: University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

Birmingham – Tuesday 1 July 2014

Location: IET Aston Court, 80 Cambridge Street, Birmingham, B1 2NP

Rochdale (near Manchester) – Wednesday 2 July 2014

Location: Zen Interent Ltd. Sandbrook Park, Sandbrook Way, Rochdale, OL11 1RY

Glasgow – Friday 4 July 2014

Location: IET Glasgow: Teacher Building, 14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, G1 4DB

There is a cost associated with the workshops, but there are a number of discounts available. There is an early bird discount of 10% if you book before 13 June, and if you are a current commercial support customer or a non-profit there is a further reduction in cost. Also, sending more than one person creates even more discounts.

So if you are a non-profit, buy a commercial support contract and then book a whole bunch of people before 13 June and you’ll be saving money hand over fist (grin).

Visit the Registration Page for more details.

This is a wondeful way to get up to speed on OpenNMS and I appreciate the effort Craig put into making these workshops available.

OpenNMS Users Conference Call for Papers

In case you missed it, the Call for Papers for next year’s OpenNMS Users Conference is now open.

In my ten plus years of working on OpenNMS, I think the thing I am most proud of is the formation of the non-profit OpenNMS Foundation Europe e.V.. This was organized totally by people not on the payroll of The OpenNMS Group and their inaugural conference in Fulda, Germany, last year was a lot of fun.

Their sophomore effort will take place is Southampton, UK a little later in the year so perhaps we’ll miss the snow. It is one of my favorite events of the year and I hope to see a lot of people there. OpenNMS is created in something of a bubble. Since we don’t require any form of registration to get the software we have no idea who is using it, and we are often pleasantly surprised to find out where OpenNMS ends up. I can’t wait to see who shows up in April.

Registration is not yet open, but they are interested in hearing from you. The users conference is about users by users and your stories are what’s in demand.

OpenNMS Gets An Emmy Nomination

Okay, so I’m stretching things a bit. Well, a whole lot. In fact, OpenNMS had nothing to do with the Emmy nod, and it is just a shameless attempt to get your attention.

I believe I have very little natural talent. The one exception is that I seem to be able to surround myself with some of the most amazing people on the planet. They do great things and I just bask in the reflected glory.

I’m not knocking it.

One of those people is our chief architect and CTO, Matt Brozowski. In his copious spare time he manages to do a lot of things, including coaching a program at the University of North Carolina called “Powering a Nation“. Each year students create a documentary involving some aspect of energy use in the United States, and the 2012 team created “100 Gallons: How Water Powers Life“.

It got nominated for a Emmy award.

How cool is that. It would be awesome if they won.

Matt is also coaching the 2013 team, so let’s see if they can go two for two.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Five

The final day of Dev-Jam came all too soon. Several people headed out Friday morning, but we still had a nice crew of 20+ for a return trip to the Town Hall Brewery on Friday night.

I often joke that Dev-Jam is my favorite Holiday outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s funny ’cause it’s true. I think the best way to sum it up is from Jeff Genender, Apache contributor and first time Dev-Jam attendee:

As an Apache stakeholder, I can honestly say you have a fantastic community and you guys exceed doing things “right”. Keep up the fantastic work and thank you sincerely for the fantastic hospitality and a great Dev Jam.

Until next year.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Four

Thursday was a pretty exciting day for me. We started seeing some changes to the codebase (capsd was deprecated in favor of provisiond, the ticketer plugins are now separate packages) and Markus N. and Matt R. demonstrated a new site built on Rails to manage community configuration contributions (and I got to practice my alliteration).

I spent the morning in downtown Minneapolis. I noticed that there was an extremely tall building called The Capella Tower. Capella University has been using OpenNMS since the 1.2 days, and while we’ve been working with them for many years I’ve never met them in person.

For some reason I thought they were headquartered in Chicago, but I think that was because they advertise on the subway trains there. Anyway, I dropped Will a note and asked if he was in the Capella Tower, and he invited me out.

It was cool to see their operation as well as the changes they’ve made to their instance of OpenNMS. OpenNMS is a platform, and it really starts to shine when it is customized, and Capella has done a great job with it.

I offered to take the team to lunch, and they suggested we hit the food trucks. All around downtown you can find some amazing food, especially on Marquette.

We hit one called “Get Sauced“. Now, being from North Carolina, we elevate the cooking of pork to near religious status, so I tend to be very critical of pork BBQ, but Get Sauced did not disappoint. It was easy to see why their BBQ sauce has won at the State Fair for three years in a row.

They also had something called “Mexican Corn”. It was grilled, fresh corn removed from the cob and seasoned. It was wonderful.

After I left Capella I took the opportunity to play a little Ingress and managed to level to Level 5. I haven’t been playing much (most of the people who started when I did are around L7) but I managed to gain about 50K AP this week without much effort due to the density of portals in the area.

We also took our group photo today. Unfortunately, Jeff Prime had to leave early due to a personal reason and missed the pic, but the rest of us made it. Thanks to Donald for taking the picture.

Thursday night was Twins night. Starting with last year we’ve taken everyone at Dev-Jam out to the ball game, and this year it was cool because we had a couple of Royals fans in the group as well (plus the Europeans who had absolutely no idea what was going on – which is how I feel about cricket).

We all wore our new polos, and so we made quite an impression next to the local marching band that was also in uniform.

And the blue and black made us easy to spot in the stands.

Like last year, we were appropriately in far right field, but we were also joined by this lovely young lady (posing here with Ulf).

She sang the national anthem before the game. I love the fact that the performance of The Star Spangled Banner is and of itself a sporting event, as it is extremely difficult to sing. She did a great job and nailed the high note at the end.

It was a lovely evening, although since both pitchers did a great job the game itself was less than exciting. The Twins pulled off the win, however.

I like to think we had a hand in that. (grin)

[Note: Ben posted a lot more of his pictures from the game here.]

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Two

One of the coolest things to come out of Day Two was an OpenNMS Chrome Extension.

Dominick and Saqib from Datavalet plan to submit this to the Chrome Store, but for now you can get the beta here.

One installed, you just need to add in your server credentials under the “Options” tab.

Then, disable and re-enable the plugin and you should start seeing pop-ups for alarms within your OpenNMS instance.

Pretty cool.

We also spent some time working on performance issues in the build. The best comment I heard about the modern OpenNMS was from Matt, who stated that if there was a Java library that wasn’t included in OpenNMS, that was an oversight.

But the funniest comment of the day came from Ben. I was talking about how fast we are growing and how we need to hire more people, and I was asked about what qualifications I was looking for in candidates. I went over a few of them, but I said the most important thing was “no sh*tty people”, as we have a great team and I don’t want to ruin it.

Ben replied, “I guess Rule Number One is: no number two”


For dinner, we once again had Brasa cater in, and once again it was amazing.

We’ll be eating leftovers for the rest of the week.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day One

My role at Dev-Jam is purely an organizational one. As someone who doesn’t code much, if at all, I always describe myself more as Julie the Cruise Director, just here to make this a great week.

I do, however, reserve the right to open the conference, so at 10am Monday morning I got to address the folks who had come here to spend the week. I also got to distribute this year’s OpenNMS polos which are a new offering from Lands’ End and are made of that newfangled “tech” fabric. I then turned over the meeting to Matt Brozowski, who as the project’s lead architect, gets to do most of the heavy lifting this week.

Speaking of shirts, I found a cool one at HeroesCon that I bought just for Dev-Jam in honor of our mascot, Ulf.

Dev-Jam is more than just coding. Mike brought in a collection of Raspberry Pis to show off some of the projects he’s been working on:

and DJ brought even more electronic gear as he is working on a cool stoplight integration with OpenNMS:

His soldering iron came in handy when Richard, who is doing an audio segment on our community, had a cable malfunction. Dustin was able to use DJ’s tools to fix it.

Mike also showed off this interesting little app he found for the iPhone that allows it to autorotate using the vibration alert built in to the phone. Here is the video that introduced him to it:

Such a talented group.

They also can eat, so thanks to Chris over at Papa Johns we had a pizza feast at dinner.

If you are following the wiki, you can see what’s being worked on this week.

We Have the Champions

Almost every customer we have starts out with one person with the vision to switch from expensive proprietary software such as OpenView or Tivoli to OpenNMS. We refer to them as “internal champions” and without them OpenNMS wouldn’t exist. They are the ones who find OpenNMS, explore its power and then convince their organizations to use it.

One of those people is Eddie van Zanten.

Eddie works for the Ministry of Defense for the Netherlands. They have been using OpenNMS for many years now, and they sent a bunch of people to the US for training. When you come to training you get an OpenNMS polo shirt, but Eddie wasn’t one of them. However, the operation of OpenNMS fell to him. His coworker Dennis Waanders wrote to me:

One guy is doing the implementation of OpenNMS in our department. And he is been busy with it for over two years now. Without him OpenNMS would have died a slow death within our department. He alone is keeping OpenNMS alive within our department. At this moment some OpenNMS features are implemented and ready for monitoring and now people in our organisation do see the benefits of OpenNMS. All because of the persistence of one guy. One guy who had faith in the use of OpenNMS.

That is pretty much the definition of an internal champion.

So I sent Eddie a one of a kind OpenNMS pullover, which he is proudly wearing in the picture above. We are here because of people like him.