Oregon

I really like visiting the state of Oregon, from Portland all the way down to Roseburg. While I haven’t been to the eastern side, the western side is beautiful, and there is also a lot of OpenNMS history there. The City of Portland uses OpenNMS, as does Earthlink Business Solutions (currently across the river in Vancouver, WA, but with a data center in Portland). Ken Eshelby, who works for the State of Oregon, has one of the most amazing installations of OpenNMS I’ve ever seen (he takes my definition of OpenNMS as a platform very seriously).

But my heart always resides with Oregon State University down in Corvallis. When I first started out on my own back in 2002, OSU was the second organization to purchase a Greenlight project. They’ve been using it for ten years, and last week they invited me back to do a “Tune My OpenNMS” project in order to get them on the latest version and to show them ways to maximize how they are using the tool.

The “Tune My OpenNMS” project (once called “Pimp My OpenNMS” but we had a client warn that he could never submit a purchase request with the word “pimp” in it) is three days long, so I decided to come in a day early to visit friends down in the Peoples Republic of Eugene. Sunday we sat outside drinking microbrews and feasting on salmon caught off the coast, and on Monday I got to go hiking in the Tamolitch Valley.

The area has both old and new growth forests, and there are some pretty extensive lava flows. Here’s a picture of my friend Kate where you can see the lava starting to be overgrown with brush.

The path we took followed the McKenzie River, which made me wish I had brought along my waders and fly rod, but since I didn’t I had to content myself with just pointing out those places where the monster trout would live.

Our destination was a place called The Blue Pool. This is a small pool that contains (so I learned) a lot of dissolved silica. While it shows up as white on the tree trunks and rocks downstream, in the still water of the pool it shows up as an incredibly rich blue (as it scatters blue light). There were once falls on one side of the pool but a lava flow covered them up. There is still water flowing under the rock and it comes out under the water, so they call it a “dry” falls.

I said goodbye and headed up to Corvallis Monday night. On Tuesday I met with Joel Burks at OSU and we got down to business migrating their existing 1.6.7 install to 1.10.5. For lunch we met Bill Ayres (OGP) who was one of the leaders of the OSU OpenNMS project until he retired, and the three of us had a lot of fun.

One night we drove out to Newport to eat seafood at Local Ocean. It was amazing.

I also got to see the controversial mural located downtown that illustrates atrocities committed by Chinese soldiers against Tibetan monks.

I thought it was quite the coincidence that I was in Corvallis when a news story broke that wasn’t about OSU athletic scores.

I didn’t get a paper accepted at OSCON this year so this was my only trip to the area, and I had missed it. I hope to return soon.

Super Bowl XLVI

Congratulations to the world champion New York Giants for winning Super Bowl XLVI.

I’ve been an NFL fan since I was nine years old. I was born the year before the first Super Bowl, and my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, won Super Bowl IX on my ninth birthday, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the game (NFL expansion has made sure that my birthday will never fall on Super Bowl Sunday again). In all those years of watching football, I have never seen the situation where one team wanted to let the other score a touchdown, and to watch an offensive player tried his damnedest not to score one.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without Papa Johns Pizza, and this year I got to order from the brand new Pittsboro store. Here is a screenshot of the OpenNMS store monitoring instance:

I ordered our pies about 2pm for a 5pm pickup and it went flawlessly (included getting 50% off by using the promotion code “CANIAC” since the Carolina Hurricanes had won their last game). We had some of the gang from the office and other friends over, and it was a nice respite from trying to get OpenNMS 1.10 out the door.

The commercials could have been better, however.

Sys-con Media Rates OpenNMS Number One

I’ve spent the first half of this week teaching an OpenNMS course. It’s a lot of fun and we have a great class (the next one is in May if you are interested).

While I was talking to the students, one pointed out that he was able to get permission to attend the class because he was going to learn about “the number one systems management tool” available. While I didn’t disagree with him (grin) I did ask how he came by that information, and he pointed me to a Sys-con Media article published last month that compared 11 systems management offerings, both open and closed source.

I had missed this article, but it ends with:

OpenNMS 1.6.10 scores better than the competition, and is thus a better server monitoring software. Its basic features include a faster configuration process, web interface, compatibility and advanced features, such as “better automatic corrective actions”. OpenNMS is also free of cost.

OpenNMS rated a 7 out of 9. Of the other 10 products reviewed, there was one 3, three 4’s, four 5’s and two 6’s.

I, of course, think OpenNMS should have scored a 9 out of 9. The two areas that we missed were “Mobile Access” and “Integrated Maps”. Since the review was against 1.6.10 (versus 1.8.10 which is the latest stable version available) it didn’t have access to the iPhone app, and we have both greatly improved the built-in OpenNMS mapping feature as well as added an integration with Google Maps, Mapquest and Open Street Map for the remote pollers.

It was still nice to come out on top, however, and I hope this gets even more people interested in OpenNMS.

Using OpenNMS Remote Monitor for Remote Polling

Kevin Sonney has posted a detailed blog entry on how he is using the OpenNMS remote monitor as a remote poller.

Now one might ask: what is the difference between remote monitoring and remote polling?

Well, when the feature was written, it was created for The Permanente Management Group in northern California. They had centralized a number of services at a data center in Oakland, and doctors and other staff need to access those services from any one of 350 or so offices and clinics around the state. They needed a way to monitor them from the point of view of the remote site: hence remote monitoring. Papa Johns uses this as well: monitor a small number of centralized services from a large number of remote sites (2743 at last count).

However, what a lot of people think of when they hear “remote monitoring” is actually remote polling: how can I monitor localized services at a remote location? Kevin’s post details that.

In OpenNMS 2.0 the plan is to have multi-level distributed monitoring and data collection, but until that is complete Kevin’s instructions demonstrate how to do it with the current code. Many thanks to him for taking the time to write it up.

2010 OSCON – Day Two

For the second day of the conference, I had two tutorials lined up. Both, I’m happy to say, were really good.

The first one was on Puppet. While I’ve known about Puppet for some time, I had no experience with it, so I thought I’d be cool to check out. The tutorial was organized well and while I believe I’ve only scratched the surface of using the tool, the ability to easily add users via the command line on OS X is worth it alone (I kid, but I attempted to add a user to a Mac remotely this week and I ended up just changing my password and having a guy there log in and do it through the GUI). Since I just brought two new servers online, I’m thinking about deploying Puppet to keep them in sync. Of course, the idea of an integration between Puppet and OpenNMS obviously suggests itself, so I’ll be looking for ideas when I play with it.

The second tutorial was on Request Tracker (RT). The course was taught by Jesse Vincent, who started the project. We’ve used RT for years and we’re getting ready to do a new deployment, so I was hoping to pick up some new tricks.

One that I’m excited about is that it looks like we’ll be able to put together a single sign-on solution between OpenNMS and RT. We already have a tight integration, but we have a client who is interested in making it even tighter, and that was a requirement.

What I enjoyed most about the talk was learning more about Best Practical and talking with Jesse. Best Practical is a true open source company like OpenNMS, and it was fun to swap stories and poke fun at the VC-backed fauxpen source crowd.

It was a full day, and I was happy to unwind with an old friend of mine who took me out to Miyamoto Sushi. The place seats 9, the food was extremely fresh and the portions huge. Being old, I called it an early night. I went back to the hotel to catch up on some work and to get ready for the first day of the main conference.

On Growing

Sorry about the light blogging lately, but that is about to change. Tomorrow I’m off to Germany for the OpenNMS Users Conference (there are still a few spots available, and last minute registrations are welcome). This is followed by a trip to the UK, where I am looking forward to a couple of reunions, one at the Oak (one of my favorite places in the world) and one with Mark Taylor over at Sirius.

After that it’s off to Norway to visit longtime OpenNMS supporter Alex Hoogerhuis, then to Nice, France, for the TMForum conference where we’ll get our “cloud” on.

It will be a busy three weeks.

Luckily, my absence won’t really affect OpenNMS Group operations since we have been experiencing rapid growth lately. I’ve hired three people in as many months, and now the company is more than capable to run without me (well, at least for a little while until our supply of hot air starts to dwindle).

The first new hire was Brad Miesner as our VP of Sales (who I introduced a little while ago). Despite the title, we hired him specifically as an account manager since we wanted one person who was dedicated to nothing but insuring that our clients were happy. While that happiness is the responsibility of everyone in the company, having someone who is tasked with actively contacting our clients and noting any concerns seemed to be a good idea.

The next person we added to our team was Seth Leger as a full time developer. Seth was involved with OpenNMS back with Oculan, and we were very excited that our paths crossed in such a way that we were able to hire him. He did some contract work for us last year, and since he really fit into the team and had a lot of experience with the code, it was a no-brainer to bring him on full time. We expect great things from him.

Speaking of great things, today I am happy to announce that Barry Campbell has joined us as the new Director of Communications. While often associated with a marketing position, we actually mean “communications” in its purest sense. Like many open source projects, our documentation could be better, and Barry’s first task is to clean it up.

One could consider it marketing, of course. OpenNMS is an extremely powerful tool, and a common comment we get is “I didn’t know OpenNMS could do that!” If more people were aware of everything the platform was capable of doing, I believe we’d get more users and thus more customers.

Barry comes to us with quite a pedigree, and he often describes himself as a “suit to geek” translator, with a strong background in both project management, process analysis and ITIL. Most recently he was the Director of Communications at IPsoft, a network management outsourcing company based in New York. It’s good to have him back in North Carolina.

Barry will be blogging on a new site called “opensourcesuit.com“.

It’s really cool to be growing, especially this fast, but that has moved my role into more administration than actually working with the product, and I kinda miss it. It’s also weird to have to post everyone’s extension taped to my desktop since I can’t remember them all.

At least we don’t need name badges.