Happy New Year and 2007 in Review

Well, 2008 is here. It seems like yesterday that I was participating in the non-event known as Y2K. I really like the New Year’s holiday. At OpenNMS we officially close for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to allow us to spend some time with our families, some time to relax and time to regroove our brains, which tend to get pretty flat when you spend as much time working on OpenNMS as we do.

I have great hopes for this year. We hope to have out two, count ’em, two stable releases, 1.6 and 1.8, as well as improving documentation and the user experience. Luckily it is easier to make a project like OpenNMS, with strong, scalable internals, prettier than it is to make a pretty application scale.

Another thing I hope to do is travel less. I did 75K miles on 62 airplanes last year, and visited 5 countries outside of the US. It was fun but a little tiring. So Matt got this week’s trip to Italy (grin).

Speaking of last year, 2007 was pretty solid.

From a project point of view, we did 6 releases (well, 7, but 1.3.4 didn’t count) and our goal was 4. We held our third Dev-Jam back at UMN (this year’s conference will be at Georgia Tech in Atlanta) and inducted three new members into the OGP.

From the commercial standpoint it was also a solid year. It’s nice being profitable, as we don’t have the same worries as a company with impatient investors, and we were able to continue to deliver on our mission statement of “Help Customers, Have Fun, Make Money”. We lost our first employee. DJ decided that he missed working in an office and his current situation didn’t let him move to North Carolina. He is still very active in the project. But when one door closes, another opens, and this time it was two. Ben was finally able to come back to work full time on OpenNMS and Jeff joined us late in the year bringing a lot of talent and experience with him. I’ve worked with some great teams in the past, but man, this is the frickin’ dream team.

Of course, we are also looking to grow by a couple of positions in 2008. If you are interested, the best way to get a full time job with OpenNMS is to get involved in the project. My last three hires have all come from the OGP, although it’s not a requirement.

The year 2007 saw a lot of new companies hitching their wagons to open source. To be quite honest I haven’t seen many embrace it as purely as OpenNMS does, and I have had to restrain myself a number of times from getting into the “my project has more downloads/features/users/marketers than your project” destructive cycle. We’ve been at this since 2000, so we have some handle on what works and what doesn’t, and what is important and what isn’t.

From the standpoint of a user, use something that works. If it works for you, it’s good, no matter if it is open or closed or a hybrid. Tools should be designed to let you focus on your business, not the tools (that’s why I use a Mac).

From the standpoint of our project, it’s the community. We let people contribute and change large chunks of functionality to OpenNMS. Heck, these are the people who use it the most, so they probably have some idea on what it should do. We don’t just give lip service to the efforts of the people outside of the OpenNMS Group, we let them choose in large part the destiny of the whole application.

And finally from the standpoint of our company, by focusing almost entirely on meeting the needs of our customers and having a great time doing it, the money comes. We ply all of our profit right back into the business (my main vehicle is a 1993 Honda Civic) which in turn makes OpenNMS better, which drives more customers. It’s a silly idea in today’s venture-driven world, but it works for us.

To everyone involved with OpenNMS, thanks for 2007. In 2008 let’s go do great things.

Happy New Year.