Rackspace and San Antonio

I can’t remember if Rackspace was our second or third commercial support customer (Children’s Hospitals was our first, but I can’t remember if NASA was second or third), but I do know that it is doubtful OpenNMS would still be around if it wasn’t for them. They were an early adopter of the platform and their support kept our company going until we could reach the critical mass needed to remain profitable.

Now that we are beginning to think about how we can use utility computing (sorry, “The Cloud”) to better serve our customers, I wanted to visit San Antonio to learn more about OpenStack. I also wanted to work with the team there that’s using OpenNMS to make sure their needs were being met, so my two day trip had a bit of a schizophrenic aspect in that one day I was the customer and the next day I was the vendor.

I started working with Rackspace in April of 2002, when they were about 100 times smaller than they are now. I’ve always admired them, since at their heart they are a services company and I’ve always viewed the OpenNMS Group as a services company. A lot of people think services companies can’t grow, but Rackspace is a shining example of how wrong that is.

My first contact there was with a guy named Eric Evans, who is both a friend and now a coworker. Even though he left Rackspace not that long ago, things are changing so fast that we had trouble finding the new visitor’s entrance. The Rackspace headquarters building is called “The Castle” and it is in a shopping mall that the company bought several years ago. It is amazing to watch how fast it has been built out, and while I hear that New Relic’s headquarters really hark back to the days of the first Internet bubble, The Castle is a contender for “nerdvana” (plus is it full of Level 8 Ingress Enlightenment portals).

We had a little time between my plane landing and our appointment, so Eric took me to a barbecue joint called Smokin’ Joes.

I’ve liked Texas barbecue ever since being introduced to Rudy’s in Boerne all those years ago, and every time I bring up how much I like Rudy’s it embarrasses Eric a little bit, because while good he doesn’t think it represents true Texas barbecue. He was determined to provide an authentic Texas barbecue experience.

He didn’t disappoint.

I knew when we walked up that I would like the place. Every amazing barbecue place where I’ve ever eaten has been something of a dive. The focus should be on the food and not the decor. I opted for a pulled pork plate (those of us purists from North Carolina understand the truth that “barbecue” means “pork”) and it was amazing. If I wasn’t so afraid of gaining back the 50 pounds I lost I would have had seconds.

After lunch we headed over to The Castle. For our meeting we were ushered into the new “experience” center, which is a state of the art meeting space to showcase Rackspace products (and yes, they have cookies). The meeting was lead by John Engates, who is now the CTO, as well as another “original Racker” named Tom Sands who runs the network infrastructure. Tom used to yell at me when OpenNMS reported 1.2 ms latency as his network is almost always sub-millisecond by a large margin. I was also introduced to a number of other people who demonstrated that Rackspace has done a good job in hiring top notch talent, and we had a great discussion of their services and our needs.

Rackspace, along with NASA (which is a bit ironic), created an open source cloud platform called OpenStack. I am not well versed in the subtleties of the Cloud market, but I think Amazon is still the leader with OpenStack companies in second. There is Eucalyptus, which is a fauxpensource play on Amazon’s APIs, and the CloudStack initiative from Apache. I believe VMWare has its own cloud offering and I’m sure there are hundreds more.

What I like about OpenStack is that it plays to the strengths of open source. Don’t like the service you are getting from Rackspace? Move everything over to IBM or HP, or host it yourself. You can use shared resources (the “public” cloud) or build your own on top of dedicated hardware (the “private” cloud) or mixed the two (the “hybrid” cloud).

The storage aspect of OpenStack is called “Swift” and while I don’t believe Eric worked directly on it, according to John his early work on something similar proved its viability to the company and resulted in them dedicating a team to develop it.

After the meeting, John, Tom, Eric and myself went to a place called The Boiler House for dinner. It is in a complex that used to house the Pearl Brewering Company, but is now home to a number of shops and restaurants.

While they had no draft beer, they did have Shiner in bottles and lots of good dishes to sample. While my normal diet is nominally vegan, within seven hours of landing I’d eaten pork, beef, lamb, bison and quail. I had a great time as we spend a couple of hours talking about tech, beer and firearms.

Welcome to Texas.

The next day we met with the monitoring team. While we were waiting I noticed an interesting looking car in the parking lot. It turns out it was a Fisker Karma, which is a plug-in electric sports car.

That meeting went well, and I’ll probably be back in San Antonio before the end of the year. Before heading to the airport Eric took me to a cool little coffee shop called Olmos Perk (which is impossible to get Google Now to recognize as it wants to replace it with “almost”).

This is near the Olmos basin, and in driving there I got to see the Olmos Dam. It is the weirdest damn I’ve ever seen, as there is no water near it – just this huge concrete structure. Eric was telling me that in the 1920s the city flooded, so they hired this Dutch guy to create a plan to keep that from happening.

Now the problem is that this dam is literally in the middle of some prime real estate, so calls keep coming to tear it down and sell the land around it. Luckily for San Antonio, a flood comes around every decade or so that shows how brilliant the Dutch guy was at his job.

It was a fun trip (and it wasn’t even that hot). I look forward to coming back.

Ingress Revisted

As I was washing the dishes this morning, I started thinking about Ingress.

Ingress is a massively-multiplayer geolocation game by a division of Google. In it, players must move around to different locations and interact with “portals”.

While it is a fun game, I’ve been having this nagging thought about why Google would spend time on it in the first place. Then it dawned on me: advertising.

A lot of speculative fiction writers, like Paolo Bacigalupi, have predicted a future in which we run around with augmented reality headsets (a lá Google Glass) and information is overlaid on top of what we actually see. While it sounds all well and good, creating such a system is non-trivial. You would need to have something that knows your location pretty accurately, which way you are facing, and can present some sort of icon or image with which you can interact and be able to do this for lots of people at the same time.

Sound familiar?

I think this is the real reason Google is spending time on Ingress and why they aren’t bothering with an iOS port. What better way to get hundreds of thousands of people to volunteer to beta test your next generation platform?

I think it’s brilliant.

Mint with a Dash of Cinnamon

Since switching to using Linux as my primary desktop, I’m always curious as to what options are available to me besides my default go-to distro of Ubuntu.

While Ubuntu 12.04 (the LTS version) is one of the best desktop operating systems I’ve ever used, I’ve grown less enchanted with each subsequent release since then. Part of it comes from some of the choices made by the Ubuntu team (such as the tight integration with Amazon) and I can work around most of those, but I’ve had numerous stability issues with Unity that didn’t really exist in the older releases.

When Debian wheezy came out, I decided to give it a shot as a desktop operating system. I’ve used Debian as a server O/S for over a decade, but the main thing that makes it great for servers, the cautious nature of changes and inherent stability, kind of suck for the desktop. I’ve discussed this with Eric, who is both a Debian user and a Debian committer, and his reply is to ask if you really need to have umpteen updates to firefox, etc. I can see his point, but if I’m using, say, Gnome, having access to the latest release can have a huge impact on the user experience.

So I didn’t like wheezy as a desktop, but before going back to Ubuntu I decided to check out Fedora. It does support Gnome 3.8, but I ran into another issue that affects almost all distros outside of Ubuntu, which is the ability to easily encrypt one’s home directory.

Ubuntu, in the install process, let’s you choose to encrypt your home directory. While I’m firm believer in xkcd’s interpretation of what would happen in the case of someone wanting access to my data, I still like to take some precautions.

I don’t like whole disk encryption for a couple of reasons, namely the possibility of a performance hit but mainly the fact that I can’t remotely reboot my computer without having someone at the keyboard typing in a passphrase. I figure encrypting /home is a good compromise, especially since the key can be tied to the user’s login via pam.

I tried to get this to work on wheezy, but I found the performance was spotty and sometimes I’d login only to find nothing in my home directory. I didn’t spend too much time on it, since I was eager to use Gnome 3.8, but was disappointed to find that Fedora didn’t allow one to easily encrypt their home directory either.

Before giving up, I decided to take a shot a Arch Linux. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this distro at conferences, but the installation process taxed even me. It it seriously bare-bones, but that it supposed to be part of the appeal. The philosophy around Arch is to create a distro with just the things you, the user, want and with access to the latest, greatest and, supposedly, most stable code.

It appealed to me as a great compromise between Debian and getting the latest shiny, but I couldn’t get it installed. You end up having to create your own fstab and somehow the UUIDs got screwed up and it wouldn’t boot. It also didn’t support the encryption of the home directory as an option out of the box, but I was willing to try to create it as I did under Debian if I could get it up and running. I don’t think it was impossible for me to get working; I simply ran out of play time and decided to try Arch another day.

On my way back to Ubuntu I decided to try one more distro, Linux Mint. I never made it back to Ubuntu.

Linux Mint 15 is a fork of Ubuntu 13.04. It removes some of the choices made by the Ubuntu team that raise the hackles of privacy advocates, and it introduces its own desktop manager called Cinnamon.

I quite like it.

I can’t really say what I like about it. It’s pretty, with the exception of the default desktop background (seriously Mint, yeah I know there’s history there but, sheesh) which is easily changed. The Terminal theme is one of the nicest I’ve used. There’s a pop up menu like Gnome 3, but then there’s these little dashlet thingies that let you launch things quickly, and a notifications system that is easy to access without getting in the way.

Running applications and open windows show up in a bar, like Gnome 2 or Windows, but I don’t find myself using that all that much. It is pretty easy to customize the whole thing, such as changing the location of things as well as setting hot corners.

There are a couple of issues. The menu doesn’t seem to index everything like the Dash in Unity, and I had gotten used to just typing in a few characters of a file name in order to access it. It does seem to remember files you use, so once you have accessed a particular file you can find it via the menu, but it does impact workflow not knowing if it will show up or not. The other issue is that it is still bound to Ubuntu, so they have some common bugs.

For example, I use the screenshot app a lot. Under Ubuntu 12.04, when I’d take a screenshot a dialog would appear asking me to save it. A suggested filename, based on timestamp, would be highlighted followed by the .png extension. I could just start typing and it would replace the highlighted text with what I had typed. That got broken in 12.10, so I’d have to reselect the text in order to set the filename. Not a big deal, but a little bit of a pain.

When I switched to Mint, it had the same issue. Note: in the last day or so it seems to have been fixed, since I am not seeing it as of today.

Of course, you get a lot of the Ubuntu-y goodness such as encrypted home directories out of the box with Mint, but Mint may end up being on the winning side of the Wayland vs. Mir argument, since Cinnamon isn’t tied to Mir (or Wayland for that matter).

For those of my three readers with a life, you may not be aware of either of those projects. Basically, for decades the control of graphical displays on most computer screens is based on a protocol called X11. Under Linux that implementation is currently managed by the X.Org project, a fork of the Xfree86 project that was the Linux standard for many years. The next generation display server arising out of X.Org (well, at least many of the developers) is called Wayland, and in the next few years one can expect it to become the default display server for most Linux distros.

Ubuntu, however, has decided to go in a different direction by launching its own project called Mir. I believe this is mainly because their goal of having a unified user interface across desktop, tablet and phone devices may not be easy to meet under Wayland. My very elementary understanding of Mir is that it allows the whole display space to be managed like one big window – easy to resize under the different screen resolutions of various devices – which differs from Wayland, but I could be making that whole part up.

I’m a huge fan of Ubuntu and I believe that those that do the work get to make the decisions, but I also believe that Wayland will have a much larger adoption base, ergo more users and developers, and will thus be more stable and more feature-rich. My own experiences with Unity’s stability on later releases indicate a trend that the first Mir releases will have some issues, and I’ve decided that I’d rather stick with something else.

For the time being that seems to be Mint with Cinnamon. Not only can I get work done using it, the underlying Ubuntu infrastructure means that I can get drivers for my laptop and still play Steam games. I still run Ubuntu 12.04 on my home desktop and laptop, but that is mainly due to lack of time to change over to Mint.

So, if you are looking for a solid Linux desktop experience, check out Mint. I am still amazed at what the free software community gifts me with every day, so my desktop of choice may change in the future, and I’ll be sure to let you know if I find anything better.

Silicon Valley

Ron and I had some meetings scheduled in Silicon Valley last week. It was an interesting trip, so I thought I’d put down a few thoughts.

The trip out was a little painful. Due to storms in Dallas they closed DFW and so our plane got re-routed to Waco. Now the Waco Regional Airport is not the largest in the world (it has two gates) and so they weren’t really set up for handling the few jets that got diverted there, and I’m sure the plan was just to refuel and head back to Dallas when the weather cleared.

Unfortunately, the MD-80 we were on experienced some sort of mechanical issue and it wasn’t getting back to DFW that night. They didn’t announce that publicly (if a delay is caused by weather, the airline isn’t held responsible, but if it is related to maintenance then American would have been responsible for hotels, etc.) and all we were told was that we’d have to take a bus back. I heard about the maintenance issue from the crew, but they wouldn’t give specifics.

We ended up exiting from the rear of the aircraft, something I had never done in years of flying.

It was a little frustrating, specifically because Ron checked a bag. On the plane they told us that he could get his bag if he requested it from the desk, but once we got there we found it wasn’t staffed. By this time we had left the secure area and couldn’t get back to talk with the original person, and later it turns out that the four American Eagle staff decided to hide in the office instead of dealing with questions from our crowd. We were finally told that we couldn’t get his bag and that it would be delivered to San Francisco with our next flight.

I have watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles enough that as soon as we landed in Waco, I called and I booked a room at the DFW Marriott. We managed to get there about 1am, and considering that we were rebooked on a 7am flight we didn’t get much sleep, but at least it wasn’t on the floor of the airport.

Upon arriving at SFO we went to the Admiral’s Club to check on the status of Ron’s bag. They said it had been scanned at DFW and should be on the next plane, which was due to arrive in about three hours time. We decided it was worth it to wait.

It wasn’t.

The bag wasn’t on that flight, the one 40 minutes after it, nor the one 10 minutes after that. American seemed incapable of locating the bag or telling us when it might arrive, and I couldn’t help but think that we could build them a better system using OpenNMS. Heck, the bar wouldn’t be all that high, as pretty much anything would have been better than what they have. That afternoon we gave up and decided to head out and just stop by Target to buy some clothes.

The rest of the trip was much better. We met a friend of Ron’s named Mark for dinner and had a really great conversation about pretty much everything, but with a focus on tech and the business of tech. We then called it a night due to having little sleep the night before.

The next morning while Ron was on the phone with American, who were still having issues locating his luggage, the hotel brought the bag to his room. Resupplied with clothes, we were ready to tackle our now completely booked two days of meetings.

It had been awhile since I was on Sand Hill Road, and it seems that things have changed for the better. Most investors seem eager to at least learn about a company like ours that has both customers and profit, and most of the meetings we took were fun.

One wasn’t. It was the same old tired “If you aren’t in Silicon Valley, you can’t be successful” spiel I used to hear every time I came here. The premise is that if you want tech talent, i.e. a talented Director of Sales, you can only find them in the Valley. This contrasted with another person I talked to this trip who said he was having trouble finding people because no one wanted to go to a Series A startup. With Facebook, Google, Twitter and others hiring, the top guns are either going there for the security and high salaries or are off starting their own companies.

I couldn’t help myself (it happens) and I had to point out that in the case of OpenNMS being focused on open source, there is more talent in RTP than in California. Red Hat’s revenue is over a billion dollars annually, and I would like to see the Valley’s equivalent. With all that talent ‘n such there should be several companies, right?

Didn’t think so.

On the flight back I was seated next to a woman who was a bit of a hired gun in business consulting and she pointed out that quite a few Valley startups take off like wildfire but then quickly plateau. Her theory is that the area is very insular so business plans tend to target companies in that area and they don’t do well outside of it. I think there is a grain of truth in what she said, although there are notable exceptions such as the companies I named above.

The one thing that is hard to recreate is the sheer density of interesting people. Perhaps it was because I’m now traveling with Ron who knows everybody, but I had some great conversations, one after another. I have had conversations of a similar level in Raleigh, but not in a row like that.

But I am willing to experience that via airplane versus living there. Spending over a million dollars for a small house and then having to deal with the traffic, parking and other issues is enough to make me appreciate my current standard of living. Plus, I would have to have a really nice job to afford the Telsa sedan which seems to be the car of choice in the area. At one point in time we were passed by two red ones on the 101 (one with a dealer tag). I did see only one coupe but the sedans were everywhere.

We’re off for meetings in other parts of the country (and world) over the next few weeks, so it will be interesting to compare that to my trip West. I’ll try to post my thoughts so that my three readers can experience the wonder that is business travel from some place that isn’t Waco.

Save the Date: OUCE 8-11 April 2014

I just found out that the OpenNMS Foundation has decided that the annual users conference will take place from 8-11 April 2014 at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

Southampton (slogan: “when the Titanic left here, she was whole”) should offer more temperate weather than last year’s snow, and by holding the conference on campus we’ll have access to great bandwidth, decent accommodation and high end classroom facilities.

So mark your calendars now for what is sure to be the OpenNMS event of 2014, and I hope to see you there.

Open Source Activist

I’ve known Lyle Estill for over a decade now, and I consider him a friend. So when I got a copy of his latest book Small Stories, Big Changes it went right to the top of my reading list (which is literally two feet high at the moment).

Leafing through the book I realized something: I was mentioned no where in it. As someone who has been at least mentioned in almost all of the other books by Lyle, I braced myself for disappointment. I mean, how can it be good without a little dose of Tarus? Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and I found it a good read.

I think the oversight of my omission is that Lyle didn’t do most of the writing for this book. He compiled stories by others, including a number of local people, into a book about “the frontlines of sustainability”.

What is sustainability? One author defines it (via the United Nations) as “the ability of the current generation to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. This book includes people in the energy business (solar and wind), those who aim to live simply, and others who focus on reducing waste.

Each of these authors have their own voices, but they are tied together by introductions by Lyle, and his relationship to them: some close, some distant, brings the book together.

The hardest chapter for me to get through was the one by Gary Phillips.

Gary Phillips is local to Chatham County, North Carolina, and he is probably most famous for being on the receiving end of one of the dirtiest campaigns ever run for County Commissioner, in our county or any other.

For a long time North Carolina politics was a bit of a dichotomy. Nationally, the people here had the tendency to vote Republican, but locally it was all Democrat. This has changed, but back in 2002 the winner of the Democratic primary was the ultimate winner.

At the time there was a huge push for development in the county, but for a number of valid reasons (lack of water, water treatment facilities, and other infrastructure being key) the tradition was for a more “slow growth” attitude. A businessman named Bunkey Morgan changed his voter registration to Democrat and “rented” a house in the proper district just to run against Phillips. He won by 320 votes and implemented policies that resulted in Chatham becoming “Zombieland” after the housing bust.

But while Phillips blames his loss to Bunkey Morgan’s carpetbagger strategy to “not being white enough,” the biggest thing I remember from that election were the changes he made to his marital status mid-campaign. I think that, as much Bunkey’s tactics, cost him the commissioner’s seat.

While that chapter didn’t resonate with me, others did. I do like the fact that some of the author’s touched on my pet issue with respect to sustainability, namely population control. Many agonized over the “energy equation”, in other words if I buy a hybrid does the environmental savings in fuel offset the damage caused by mining for the rare earth elements for the car’s batteries? The one thing that was true about every author, including Gary, was how seriously and deeply they felt about this planet we share.

I found “Small Stories” to be a solid read, and Lyle is continuing stories of “activists” of all stripes on his website.

He asked me to contribute my own “open source activist” story, and it is now up on the website. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Joe’s Last Day

When Joe, our summer intern, came to interview he wore a suit. This is rarely a bad idea, but we thought it would be funny to all dress up on his first day in the office.

Well, he decided it would be funny to wear a suit on his last day, which was Thursday.

We decided it to return to the same restaurant and take another picture. Of course, he looks sad in the first one and happy in the last one, so I don’t know what that says about our work environment, but we sure enjoyed having him around this summer.

Review: Sheryl Crow at DPAC

Another post for me to practice my typing, with no OpenNMS content, although some of you might find it interesting.

This weekend I went to see Sheryl Crow perform at the Durham Performing Arts Center. I remember the exact moment I got old, and that was at a concert as well. It was Sting with Natalie Merchant opening, and Andrea and I decided to leave during the encore to beat the traffic. Contrast that to watching The Boss at the LA Civic Center where we stayed until they kicked us out as we sat watching the roadies tear down the stage.

This concert also made me feel a little old, as we were at the lower end of the age demographic. I was introduced to Sheryl Crow’s music by my friend Bill Hinkle, but that was twenty years ago back in 1993. I didn’t realize that Sheryl was 51, several years older than me, and the average age of the crowd was higher than that.

Not that we old folks don’t know how to rock.

The main reason we went was that I managed to score fifth row seats. They were toward the left of the stage, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to expect a little comfort when I go out. Sad, I know, and it is rare enough that I don’t go out often, but I think my stage rushing, general admission days are over.

The opening act was a trio headed by Dustin Lynch. He was accompanied by another acoustic guitarist and a pretty blond woman on fiddle. The set was kind of forgettable, but I can remember thinking to myself “Do I like this guy enough to steal his music?”

I didn’t.

I also thought it was funny that the cameraman kept the camera on the blond through most of the set, even when she wasn’t actively doing much.

He tried to pander to the audience, bringing up references to our troops overseas, God, etc. Not that I mind those aspects of country music but it came across as patronizing. At one point he launched into a bit about how all the men in the audience where there because their woman dragged them to the concert, and Andrea and I were both like “wha?”. First, I got the tickets, and second, it’s Sheryl Freakin’ Crow, known to appeal more to men than women on average.

Anyway, the main event started about 9pm. Sheryl came on stage with a custom red, white and blue guitar and a rocking band consisting of two other guitarists, a drummer, a bass guitarist, a woman on keyboards (married to the bass guitarist, we learned later) and another keyboardist/slide guitar/jack of all trades guy to round out the group.

It was a pretty good show.

She is a tiny woman – even in platform shoes with five inch heels she wasn’t very tall, but her voice is still huge.

The theme seemed to be fresh guitars, as there were new ones swapped out almost every song. I’m not sure if Sheryl uses a unique tuning for each song, but it was kind of fun to keep count of the different instruments. At one point she played something that I think was a baritone mandolin, something I’ve never seen before, but it had eight strings and a shape that seems to suggest a mandolin on steroids.

She did the hits and a number of new songs. They also did a couple of covers, including “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO and they ended the show’s encore with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n Roll“.

My biggest complaint was with the sound. Lately, every show I see, the vocals just aren’t mixed right, and you simply can’t make them out. Luckily I was familiar with enough of her music that it didn’t ruin the show.

While she is going for more of a country flair vs. rock in her later music (not a bad business move in my opinion) one song that I think will be a hit, maybe even a crossover hit, is “Shotgun”.

With the lyric:

Drive it like it’s stolen,
Park it like it’s rented,
What’s the use of money,
If you ain’t gonna spend it?

I was sold. Here’s a clip I found of it, and at least the part of the band on the front row was with her in Durham.

Sheryl Crow – Shotgun (Live) from Bootheel Vids on Vimeo.

It was a fun evening. The DPAC is a great place for shows, and even though there was a Bull’s game going on at the same time, it was pretty easy to park and leave. Of course, I did have one chore to do before leaving.

I Lost My Job!

Okay, please forgive the sensationalist title, but it is true: I am no longer the CEO of the OpenNMS Group. That honor belongs to a man named Ron Louks. We have a press release and everything.

When I took over OpenNMS in May of 2002, I had no idea it would become as big as it has, even to the point of outliving the company that started it. I knew my goal for OpenNMS – to make it the de facto network management application platform for everyone – was huge, and the only way to go about it was to heed our mission statement, which is:

Help Customers – Have Fun – Make Money

That, some luck and a lot of sweat equity has seen the OpenNMS Group through nearly nine consecutive profitable years, and we have built a great community as well having the best customers on the planet (in 26 countries, no less). But I knew the day would come where we would need someone with more experience to take the reins to get OpenNMS to that goal, and that someone is Ron.

I’ve known Ron for longer than OpenNMS has been around. He, David and I used to work together, and while the two of us went off to focus on network management, Ron went out in search of huge challenges. He was always focused on the mobile communications industry, and he worked his way up to become the Chief Technical Officer of Sony Ericsson, and then the Chief Strategy Officer at HTC. He managed engineering teams of over one thousand people, and has been responsible for the production of over 200 million mobile devices.

And while he is too modest to point this out, the most successful times in the history of those companies was when Ron worked there.

Ron will be directly responsible for the next phase of OpenNMS. We plan pretty aggressive expansion to better serve our customers, as well as improved Windows support and the introduction of some software as a service products to help our users get the most out of OpenNMS. He is fully on board with my two requirements for the OpenNMS platform: it will never suck and it will always be free.

With Ron’s help we have developed a wonderful business plan that will see some phenomenal growth in the OpenNMS software. Yes, this means the ever talked about but rarely seen, OpenNMS “Nukem Forever” Version 2.0, will become a reality (it is, in fact, a key part of our future). With a focus on a new, state of the art user interface and taking the already impressive scalability of OpenNMS and making it virtually unlimited, OpenNMS 2.0 will position the platform for the coming “Internet of Things”.

But this didn’t happen overnight – Ron has been on our Board since January and we have spent hundreds of hours making sure this is the right thing for us to do. At one point in the process David deferred a decision to me, saying that no matter how long he has worked on OpenNMS, he still considers it “my baby”.

Well, my baby is all grown up and ready for college. OpenNMS, and the OpenNMS Group, has always been much more about the team than me. All I did was shelter and nurture it, and now it is time for me to just take pride in watching the project reach its full potential.

Seriously, any credibility I have in this business is from standing on the shoulders of giants. The only true talent I have is attracting amazing people to work with me, and I plan to put that talent to use as we grow over the next year. While no longer taking the lead on the direction of the company, I have been named the Chairman of the Board, and I have chosen to focus on what I love to do best: help our customers. While we aren’t much on titles, I think mine will read Chief Operations Officer.

But in my heart I will still think of myself as Julie, the Cruise Director, here to make you OpenNMS journey as pleasant as possible.