The Prodigal Customer

At The OpenNMS Group, we love our customers, but unfortunately we don’t get to keep all of them. Some drop support due to budget issues. We had at least one client who didn’t renew due to the fact that once OpenNMS was up and running they felt they didn’t need support. But I am happy to say that overall our retention rate year over year is around 93%. While I don’t have any stats to compare this too, I think it’s pretty good.

The first commercial support customer was Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. They purchased support back in December of 2001, when OpenNMS was still managed by Oculan. Last week they renewed for an incredible ninth time, so we have provided enough value that they will have used our services for at least a decade. Rackspace has been a customer since March of 2002, and I think there are few open source companies that can point to that kind of track record.

But I wanted to tell a story about a support renewal that showed up early last month. It was from a client in Virginia who chose not to renew last year. They had been sold on the idea that a commercial solution would meet their needs much better than OpenNMS, and so they decided to go that route.

I’m never happy to lose a customer, but many times I can understand. As a services organization, it does neither us nor the client any good if OpenNMS is not a good fit. OpenNMS is not for everyone – users tend to be well above average in their field and have a honest enjoyment of network management. Sometimes those people are hard to find.

And while we couldn’t exist without the support of our long time customers, I hope I can be forgiven for being just a little more excited about this renewal than most. It is one thing to know that the software you create is worthwhile – it is another thing to have someone who has used it to try alternatives and to come back.

This client was lost and now is found, and that makes me happy.

2 thoughts on “The Prodigal Customer

  1. So does that mean we’re going to get a bog post about where OpenNMS was superior and inferior to the commercial alternative? Please?

  2. Unfortunately, no. Clients are real cautious about naming the tools they didn’t choose, and they are almost as reluctant to name the ones they do.

    If you think about it, they really don’t gain anything. Some are reluctant to name the tools they use in case a vulnerability is discovered and someone tries to exploit it. And there is the idea that naming a software product that didn’t work out for them might exposed them to some liability. While it is great information for the market, it doesn’t really help them and so they choose not to do it.


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