Thoughts on the New Year

Okay, I have a lot of stuff I’d like to post but the problem will be finding the time, so instead of meticulously crafting a post in my usual manner (grin) this one will be more “stream of consciousness”.

Last year started off horribly for the business side of things. It was so bad that I had to cancel our annual developer’s conference, Dev-Jam. It is a huge regret, since come March things went crazy and we posted three record quarters in a row, but it was the decision to make at the time.

When we had our first Dev-Jam it was kind of a lark, but I didn’t realize how important that yearly gathering of people was to the project. We’ve inked in the week of July 25th, 2010, back at the University of Minnesota, to make sure we don’t miss out again.

Other than that, 2009 was a great year. We hired Jason Aras (an OGP member) as a full time employee and Seth Leger, one of the original OpenNMS coders, came to work for us on a contract basis (and we hope he’ll join us full time in 2010).

On the development side we got a lot of interesting custom development business and delved more fully into the whole “agile” development process. It has enabled us to work more efficiently (especially as distributed as we are) and produce even more robust code. The last week in December we switched to git to streamline further our development process.

We enter 2010 in the best shape of our corporate lives, and I am confident it will be a solid year for the OpenNMS project as well. Seeing all of this talk about Sun/Oracle/MySQL and copyright assignment makes me glad that we are bootstrapped and make money the old fashioned way (by spending less than we earn) versus having to make concessions to our open source philosophy.

On the down side, it is frustrating not to be able to implement some of our ideas as quickly as I would like, but our organic growth means that the pace of development is getting faster and faster. This results in higher revenues, and since we plow all that back into the company it just feeds the growth of the project.

All the experts say that this business model is flawed and that we’re not a “real” company or at a minimum we are some sort of “lifestyle company“, but you know what? I don’t care. And as long as we can stick to our mission statement of “Help customers, have fun, make money” I don’t have to. (grin)

But if I had to lay out a goal for 2010 it would be to make it easier for people to get involved, and to get those involved more involved. I think calling 2010 “The Year of Community” is a little cheesy, but that is where my heart lies. We have a new stable release coming out, our first book (in German) and an iPhone app all in the first half of the year, but I think that would pale in my mind to getting the community back on track, and I hope that Dev-Jam goes a long way toward getting that done.

Happy New Year everyone.