It is hard to believe, but today marks the fifth anniversary of The OpenNMS Group.

There are a number of references for the failure rate of new businesses, all with different statistics, but most seem to agree that a large number of new businesses fail within the first five years. I would say we’ve been lucky to last that long, but the truth is it has just been a lot of hard work and a laser-like focus on our mission:

Help Customers – Have Fun – Make Money

In those five years we have tripled in size, quintupled revenues and helped well over 100 clients in 18 countries.

Not bad for such humble beginnings.

I’ve talked about the history of OpenNMS in other places, but I want to remind everyone that I didn’t start it. It was started in 1999 by some people I know whose company became Oculan (one of those people was Ben Reed, who is still with the project and our company).

I started to work with Oculan on September 10th, 2001, and we signed our first support customer in December of that year. I’m delighted to say that our first customer is still with us – having renewed their support an impressive seven times.

In May of 2002, Oculan decided to stop working on OpenNMS and I asked for and was given stewardship of the project. I started Sortova Consulting Company as the services arm of the project and moved into a makeshift office in my attic.

I would like to say that it was from that attic that the project was kept alive by me, but the truth of the matter is that the community kept the project going and I just did my part. If you take a look at the membership of the Order of the Green Polo, those are the people who have played a large part in keeping OpenNMS around.

In 2003 I met a local entrepreneur named Lyle Estill, and OpenNMS moved to his company, called Blast. With increased OpenNMS business and the backing of Blast we were able to hire David Hustace and Matt Brozowski, and the project really started to take off.

In 2004 Lyle decided to leave Blast to pursue a business in biodiesel. Before he left, David, Matt and myself purchased OpenNMS back from Blast to form The OpenNMS Group, and on September 1st we opened for business.

Our task: create an enterprise-grade network management application platform using the open source development model. Having worked with tools such as OpenView, Tivoli and Netcool for years, we knew there should be a better way to manage large networks. The open source development model had worked to this point, so we were certain that this was the way to proceed. By combining the expertise of management professionals around the world working cooperatively, we knew would could make something special.

Despite a rough start to the year, 2009 has been amazingly good to both the project and the company. I am thankful every day that I get to work with such great clients, such an awesome community and the best team one could hope to have.

And we’ve managed to do it all while keeping all of the OpenNMS code 100% open source. Many people think it can’t be done, but even the industry is starting to respect our open source nature as was demonstrated in yesterday’s BOSSIE award announcement.

As happy as I am to have lasted five years, what causes me to leap out of bed every morning is the thought of things to come. OpenNMS is a platform that lets us build things – from industry specific monitors such as the wireless phone work being done now to the integrations with other tools such as OTRS and RANCID that will be in 1.8. Heck, even the WMI integration gets me excited. Instead of an application, it’s a big ol’ box of possibilities (and before the peanut gallery chimes in – a whole lot of reality).

If you are reading this, you probably played some part in the success of our company. Thank you. I will lift a pint to you at the brewery tonight.

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