Every so often someone comes along with a plan to radically change the open source world, and my first reaction is skepticism. This is no different with the launch of Monitoringforge.org.
When Tara Spalding, the VP of Marketing at Groundwork, contacted us about this new site I really didn’t see any value in addition to what we already get from Sourceforge. The fact that it was being driven by the “VP of Marketing” raised a red flag with me. It’s not that I have anything against marketing people, but open source to me has always been about results, and often that involves cutting through a lot of the hyperbole associated with marketing.
Usually I ignore stuff like this, but seeing all of the mentions of the new site coming through my RSS feed, it is obvious the marketing folks have done a great job so I thought I should comment.
Where to start? Take the “Top Rated Projects” section on the front page of the site. What? How can you rate such a disparate group of applications? “Top Rated” for what? Service monitoring? Data collection? Event management? Agent technology? If they were serious about providing useful information about solutions, shouldn’t the first step be to divide the solutions in to specific groups, like in the categories section on the right (the smaller, tinier section on the right)? Or is it more about how many stars you can get next to your name so you show up on the front page?
The next thing I dislike about it is the use of the word “forge”. To me a forge is a place to host code and other code related services, such as a bug tracker. I think Sourceforge already does that well for us. I don’t see what role this new site will play as a “forge“.
The third thing is the word “monitoring”. Sure, OpenNMS has great monitoring capabilities, but we have designed it to be a network management application platform of which monitoring is just one part. The term “Monitoringforge” seems limiting, and from the standpoint of our marketing this is a bad thing.
It reminds me of the Open Management Consortium. Remember them? It was started back in 2006, it died, then it was rebooted last year, but now it seems to be dead again. I can’t even get the website to load and typing in “Open Management Consortium” into Google returns only press release results and not the site itself (one would think that an organization with a focus on monitoring would know its website was down). As you can see, a lot of fuss was made about that organization, too.
It seems a similar organization, the Open Solutions Alliance, is still around and active, although with fewer members than when they were founded. Perhaps they are still around because they charge dues.
Within the open source community, brand is very important. Before we put the OpenNMS label on anything, we want to make sure that it is real and it doesn’t suck. This is very important. We take being a member of a community very seriously, and we don’t want to be a part of one until we know we have the resources to play an active role, that it makes sense for our project and our business, and that it is going to last.
It’s sort of like our practice of running our business profitably. If we are guaranteed to survive, there is no limit to what we can do – just how long it takes us to do it.
I mentioned before, I am very results-driven. If this new site provides value, we’ll end up being a part of it. But for now we’ll just wait and see and wish them the best of luck.