OpenNMS on Bad Voltage

I had to go back through my notes, but I first met Jono Bacon on April 12th, 2008 at a LugRadio Live show in San Francisco. Jeremy Garcia, the founder of LinuxQuestions.org, I didn’t meet until this year’s SCaLE conference, but I had been following that site since at least 2009 (or at least that the oldest e-mail I still have from it). Those two guys make up half of the team behind the Bad Voltage podcast.

The other half consists of Stuart “No Fruit in Beer” Langridge and Bryan “Puffy Nipples” Lunduke, both nicknames earned at SCaLE (where they did their first live show). Stuart, the more social and less-sickly of the pair, joined us for a few drinks one evening during the conference, but I have yet to meet Bryan face to face.

Which is probably a good thing, because the few seconds I saw said face on a Google hangout this week, well, it wasn’t pretty. Ebola is nothing to joke about so I shall leave it at that, but let’s just say he was under the weather.

I was on the Hangout because the guys asked me to come on Bad Voltage. The first time I was invited was a couple of weeks ago when the taping was on a Thursday. I couldn’t make that one, so considering the history of this crew I was a little suspicious when they asked me to chat on April Fool’s Day.

Of course, this is when I found out that Bryan was deathly ill and wouldn’t be joining us, and even my thick brain can detect a pattern. Dodges me at SCaLE even with the promise of free booze. Ditches me during the one time I’m on his show. I know when I’m not wanted.

The string of “coincidences” continued during the taping when Jono’s app crashed a few minutes into our chat. In 38 shows it had never happened before and so we had to start over, and the guys were good sports and laughed at all the right moments as I repeated my stories. April Fool’s Day is also my wedding anniversary, so they got a small slice of what it is to live with me and have to suffer through my stories over and over (she’s stuck with me for 22+ years so I guess that is one miracle for her sainthood, two to go).

Anyway, after the technical glitches were sorted and Bryan was done snubbing me, I thought the chat went pretty well. It’s hard for me to fit anything into ~10 minutes and I left stuff out that I would have liked to say, but I hope it gets people interested in OpenNMS. In any case, even without my bit (or should I say especially without my bit) the show is always entertaining and you should check it out. You’ll get the occasional F-bomb and sometimes references to moose genitalia, but overall it is pretty safe for work.

Anyhoo – check it out and let me know what you think:

Bad Voltage 1×39: Ambitious but Rubbish

Wow – CA Knows About OpenNMS

While we position OpenNMS to compete with products from giants such as HP, IBM and CA, I had doubts that we were on their radar. But yesterday I saw the following in an article on Network World:

While not quoted, it appears that the CTO of CA dropped the name of our project, so one can only assume he is aware of what we are trying to do.

Cool.

I do agree with him that network management, especially at scale, is a “freaking hard problem”. Note that we are both using the term “network management” as an umbrella term for managing anything that is connected to the network, which ranges from traditional networking gear such as routers and switches all the way up the stack to applications and mobile devices – Internet of Things style.

It is the main reason we designed OpenNMS as a platform versus an application. It is a requirement that it be flexible enough to meet the unique needs of our users, and that can only be done by writing OpenNMS to be extensible while also automating as much of the work as possible. It is a complex problem.

It made my day that the CTO of a nearly US$14 billion company mentioned our effort. It means we are on the right track. We definitely don’t have the resources of CA but our team is talented and they understand the network management space.

It was also cool to see 451 Research mentioned in the article. I really like those folks, so much so that we just contracted with them. Perhaps we can get more people talking about us.

OpenNMS in Network World Roundup

Susan Perschke has written up a fairly long review of four open source management tools, including OpenNMS. I thought it was pretty thorough for a Network World article, especially since they tend to follow the industry in general and not network management in particular. She reviewed OpenNMS as well as Zenoss Core, NetXMS and Nagios Core.

Note: You have to “register” to see the whole article, but all that seems necessary is to input an e-mail address. There is no confirmation e-mail, as far as I can tell, so you could enter in anything that looks like an e-mail address and access it.

I was a little nervous when I read that they tested OpenNMS on Windows. To be perfectly honest, our Windows implementation was done in part to settle a bet (Java should be write once, run anywhere, right?). It *does* work and work fine, but it is much harder to install and manage on the Windows platform, something that we are working to correct. So Susan gets some props for managing to get it running and not complaining at all about the install process on Windows. That fact alone made me look at her article more seriously.

Everyone is interested in the “winner” and the tagline of the article is “Zenoss Core edges Nagios Core, NetXMS and OpenNMS in four-product roundup”. She writes:

Zenoss is our top pick due primarily to its intuitive and professional-grade admin interface.

I really can’t fault that. GUIs are important, which is why we are working with the Vaadin team on our next generation user interface. But the underlying engine is important as well, since it is easier to add a pretty interface than it is to architect your application for performance. Apparently Zenoss is a resource hog:

We found out the hard way that Zenoss is not designed for lightweight infrastructure – in fact we were not able to get a clean-running machine going until we threw 6GB of memory at it.

My main complaint about the article is that she didn’t stress enough that Zenoss and Nagios both follow the fauxpen source model: the “Core” products are free but the whole is not. If you want certain features, be prepared to get out your checkbook and give up your open source freedoms. She does mention that with respect to Nagios:

You would need to purchase the ‘Professional’ or ‘Business’ version if you want to use features such as SNMP traps or the mobile application, plus the backend database option is only available in the ‘Business’ version.

Why is this distinction important? Well, as Brian Prentice at Gartner explains, when considering a solution like this with an commercial enterprise component, you have to treat the whole purchase decision in the same way you would any commercial software acquisition. You lose the open source value.

And we be all about adding value. In fact, we are actively targeting the features that people like the most about products like Zenoss and Solarwinds, first and foremost the GUI. Next, we’ll go after the second most popular feature. Little by little we hope to erode people’s dependency on commercial software by offering a truly amazing, totally free alternative.

I didn’t talk to much about NetXMS because, quite frankly, I had never heard of it. It seems like they have been around for awhile and it also seems like they are truly open source. I found it amusing that the two FOSS options in the article were both tested on Windows.

Anyway, the article is worth checking out if you are in to that sort of thing. I’ll be interested to see how OpenNMS ranks in a year when the GUI is finished.

OpenNMS be Killer, yo

It was cool to see OpenNMS mentioned in an article on Silicon India called “Ten Killer Open Source Networking Tools”.

It was included with Cacti, and I think their analysis was valid. I haven’t been exposed to Cacti very much but they do make it easy to create aggregate reports, and if you use the RRDtool option in OpenNMS you can create files that Cacti can easily manage. I think we could improve OpenNMS by borrowing some of their ideas.

I also thought it was cool that RANCID was also mentioned, since we have a nice integration with it. It’s always nice to see OpenNMS mentioned in the technical press.

Juniper Networks Includes OpenNMS in Junos Space

We’re very excited to be able to announce that Juniper Networks has licensed OpenNMS through the “Powered by OpenNMS” program to bring Fault and Performance Management to their Junos Space management application.

The full press release is now online. We met with them at Dev-Jam this year in Minnesota, and things progressed rapidly from there. The fact that a company with such a solid reputation as Juniper would choose to make OpenNMS part of its product suite should go a long way to validating the work we’ve done with the project, and I look forward to working with them for years to come.

Hershey Medical Center

One of the best ways to market your company is through customer stories. The downside: getting approval to post something publicly usually takes an extremely long time. We have one customer, a private equity firm, that won’t even let us recognize they exist (we use a code name, even internally).

But since we have great customers it is worth the effort and the wait. Today I was able to post a story from Hershey Medical Center that has been in the works for a year. I just did some consulting for them last week, and we were able to get it finished then.

Dale Meyerhoffer, Senior Network Analyst at HMC, has been a client for over three years now. I must say, that if I were tasked to make up the most flattering customer story I could think of, I’d have a hard time matching this.

We are humbled that he took the time to talk about his OpenNMS experience, and I hope it goes a long way toward removing any doubts people might have about switching.

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.

The OpenNMS Group Announces The OpenNMS Certified Partner Program (Press Release)

NETHINKS (GERMANY) AND ENTIMOSS (UK) ARE THE FIRST OPENNMS CERTIFIED PARTNERS

PITTSBORO, NC – 18 Jan 2010

The OpenNMS Group (www.opennms.com) is pleased to announce the first members of its new Certified Partner program. By forming strategic alliances with service providers around the world, the Certified Partner program will expand the adoption of OpenNMS, the world’s first enterprise-grade network management application platform that is 100% free and open source software.

Users of OpenNMS will now have the option of obtaining services from local companies in their time zone and their language. Support services will be provided through the OpenNMS Group’s MyNMS Support Portal which will still allow access to the main developers of the software. Partners must keep at least two OpenNMS Certified Consultants on staff to ensure that they are able to deliver the highest quality professional services and to uphold the reputation that OpenNMS has earned over the last decade.

“Our goal for OpenNMS is nothing short of making it the de facto standard platform for building powerful, flexible and highly scalable network management applications,” stated Tarus Balog, Chief Executive Officer of the OpenNMS Group. “By leveraging the most talented partners worldwide, we are able to reach many more people, in their native language, and yet back it with the high level of support our customers have come to expect from OpenNMS through our MyNMS portal.”

The first OpenNMS Certified Partner in Germany is NETHINKS GmbH (http://www.nethinks.com/), an IT-specialist company with its headquarters in Fulda, Hessen. NETHINKS has been the main sponsor for the last two years of the OpenNMS Users Conference – Europe.

“We already knew five years ago about the basic necessity for a professional network management system, that offers companies the possibility of constantly monitoring their complex IT-facilities. Therefore we checked several tools that are available throughout the international market and asserted right away that OpenNMS gives you lots of advantages compared to other software-types”, explains Uwe Bergmann. “Whereas many network management systems are designed as commercial products and have functional limits, OpenNMS is a 100 percent free software alternative that does not incur a license fee and can be used for even the most complex IT-facility structure.”

In addition, NETHINKS employee Ronny Trommer is both a member of the governing body of the OpenNMS Project, The Order of the Green Polo, as well as coauthor of the first book on OpenNMS, “OpenNMS: Netzwerkmanagement mit freier Software”.

The first official partner in the United Kingdom is entimOSS, Ltd. (http://www.entimoss.com/) with headquarters in Southampton. entimOSS focuses on providing expert services in the area of Operations Support Systems (OSS). Dr. Craig Gallen, founder of entimOSS, is also a member of the Order of the Green Polo and has been leading efforts by OpenNMS to bring open source software to carriers through his work with the TeleManagement Forum. Last year he led a project in collaboration with BT to use OpenNMS as part of a proof of concept for managing cloud-based services called the “Cloud Service Broker”.

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that open source platforms like OpenNMS offer unique opportunities to flexibly meet the technical and commercial requirements of a wider range of customers,” noted Dr. Gallen. “Running any software business is challenging but the OpenNMS group have pioneered a unique business model which more equitably derives value from the platform for both their customers and the community they have built around the project. It is exciting to be able to join them on the journey.”

By creating strong strategic partnerships throughout the world that are directly backed by The OpenNMS Group, OpenNMS is now a viable alternative to limited and expensive commercial solutions.

Negotiations are underway to certify more partners. For information on the program, please contact The OpenNMS Group.

ABOUT OPENNMS

OpenNMS is the world’s first enterprise-grade network management application platform developed under the open-source model. It is a 100% free software alternative to commercial products such as HP Operations Manager, IBM Netcool and Tivoli, and CA Unicenter.

ABOUT THE OPENNMS GROUP

The OpenNMS Project is maintained by The OpenNMS Group (www.opennms.com), who also provide commercial support, services and training for the OpenNMS platform.