OpenNMS Is Once Again on FLOSS Weekly

Way back in 2006 I was invited to be on one of the first FLOSS Weekly shows. That was when it was hosted by Chris Dibona and Leo Laporte. Now it is run by the very capable Randal Swartz, and I was excited to be invited back, ten years later. It was also fun to meet Jonathan Bennett, his co-host, for the first time.

Jeff Gehlbach joined me to chat about OpenNMS and all things FLOSS, and I even thought he got a word or two in edgewise. Like FLOSS Weekly, I think our major achievement is that we are still here and still going strong (grin). The only complaint I could have is that this was episode 418 and I was originally on episode 15 so it would have been cooler to be on three shows ago to make it an even 400, but I’m OCD like that.

FLOSS Weekly

One thing I love about free (libre) and open source software is that it is self-selecting. People choose to use it, and thus there tend to be certain things we all hold in common that makes meeting others involved in FLOSS like immediately making a new friend. Chatting with Randal and Jonathan was more like catching up with old friends, although I’d never talked with them before. I look forward to this as the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of listening to me drone on about OpenNMS in the past will here a number of “bingo” stories in this show, but we do touch on some new ideas and I think it went really well. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

OpenNMS on Bad Voltage

I had to go back through my notes, but I first met Jono Bacon on April 12th, 2008 at a LugRadio Live show in San Francisco. Jeremy Garcia, the founder of, I didn’t meet until this year’s SCaLE conference, but I had been following that site since at least 2009 (or at least that the oldest e-mail I still have from it). Those two guys make up half of the team behind the Bad Voltage podcast.

The other half consists of Stuart “No Fruit in Beer” Langridge and Bryan “Puffy Nipples” Lunduke, both nicknames earned at SCaLE (where they did their first live show). Stuart, the more social and less-sickly of the pair, joined us for a few drinks one evening during the conference, but I have yet to meet Bryan face to face.

Which is probably a good thing, because the few seconds I saw said face on a Google hangout this week, well, it wasn’t pretty. Ebola is nothing to joke about so I shall leave it at that, but let’s just say he was under the weather.

I was on the Hangout because the guys asked me to come on Bad Voltage. The first time I was invited was a couple of weeks ago when the taping was on a Thursday. I couldn’t make that one, so considering the history of this crew I was a little suspicious when they asked me to chat on April Fool’s Day.

Of course, this is when I found out that Bryan was deathly ill and wouldn’t be joining us, and even my thick brain can detect a pattern. Dodges me at SCaLE even with the promise of free booze. Ditches me during the one time I’m on his show. I know when I’m not wanted.

The string of “coincidences” continued during the taping when Jono’s app crashed a few minutes into our chat. In 38 shows it had never happened before and so we had to start over, and the guys were good sports and laughed at all the right moments as I repeated my stories. April Fool’s Day is also my wedding anniversary, so they got a small slice of what it is to live with me and have to suffer through my stories over and over (she’s stuck with me for 22+ years so I guess that is one miracle for her sainthood, two to go).

Anyway, after the technical glitches were sorted and Bryan was done snubbing me, I thought the chat went pretty well. It’s hard for me to fit anything into ~10 minutes and I left stuff out that I would have liked to say, but I hope it gets people interested in OpenNMS. In any case, even without my bit (or should I say especially without my bit) the show is always entertaining and you should check it out. You’ll get the occasional F-bomb and sometimes references to moose genitalia, but overall it is pretty safe for work.

Anyhoo – check it out and let me know what you think:

Bad Voltage 1×39: Ambitious but Rubbish

Wow – CA Knows About OpenNMS

While we position OpenNMS to compete with products from giants such as HP, IBM and CA, I had doubts that we were on their radar. But yesterday I saw the following in an article on Network World:

While not quoted, it appears that the CTO of CA dropped the name of our project, so one can only assume he is aware of what we are trying to do.


I do agree with him that network management, especially at scale, is a “freaking hard problem”. Note that we are both using the term “network management” as an umbrella term for managing anything that is connected to the network, which ranges from traditional networking gear such as routers and switches all the way up the stack to applications and mobile devices – Internet of Things style.

It is the main reason we designed OpenNMS as a platform versus an application. It is a requirement that it be flexible enough to meet the unique needs of our users, and that can only be done by writing OpenNMS to be extensible while also automating as much of the work as possible. It is a complex problem.

It made my day that the CTO of a nearly US$14 billion company mentioned our effort. It means we are on the right track. We definitely don’t have the resources of CA but our team is talented and they understand the network management space.

It was also cool to see 451 Research mentioned in the article. I really like those folks, so much so that we just contracted with them. Perhaps we can get more people talking about us.

OpenNMS in Network World Roundup

Susan Perschke has written up a fairly long review of four open source management tools, including OpenNMS. I thought it was pretty thorough for a Network World article, especially since they tend to follow the industry in general and not network management in particular. She reviewed OpenNMS as well as Zenoss Core, NetXMS and Nagios Core.

Note: You have to “register” to see the whole article, but all that seems necessary is to input an e-mail address. There is no confirmation e-mail, as far as I can tell, so you could enter in anything that looks like an e-mail address and access it.

I was a little nervous when I read that they tested OpenNMS on Windows. To be perfectly honest, our Windows implementation was done in part to settle a bet (Java should be write once, run anywhere, right?). It *does* work and work fine, but it is much harder to install and manage on the Windows platform, something that we are working to correct. So Susan gets some props for managing to get it running and not complaining at all about the install process on Windows. That fact alone made me look at her article more seriously.

Everyone is interested in the “winner” and the tagline of the article is “Zenoss Core edges Nagios Core, NetXMS and OpenNMS in four-product roundup”. She writes:

Zenoss is our top pick due primarily to its intuitive and professional-grade admin interface.

I really can’t fault that. GUIs are important, which is why we are working with the Vaadin team on our next generation user interface. But the underlying engine is important as well, since it is easier to add a pretty interface than it is to architect your application for performance. Apparently Zenoss is a resource hog:

We found out the hard way that Zenoss is not designed for lightweight infrastructure – in fact we were not able to get a clean-running machine going until we threw 6GB of memory at it.

My main complaint about the article is that she didn’t stress enough that Zenoss and Nagios both follow the fauxpen source model: the “Core” products are free but the whole is not. If you want certain features, be prepared to get out your checkbook and give up your open source freedoms. She does mention that with respect to Nagios:

You would need to purchase the ‘Professional’ or ‘Business’ version if you want to use features such as SNMP traps or the mobile application, plus the backend database option is only available in the ‘Business’ version.

Why is this distinction important? Well, as Brian Prentice at Gartner explains, when considering a solution like this with an commercial enterprise component, you have to treat the whole purchase decision in the same way you would any commercial software acquisition. You lose the open source value.

And we be all about adding value. In fact, we are actively targeting the features that people like the most about products like Zenoss and Solarwinds, first and foremost the GUI. Next, we’ll go after the second most popular feature. Little by little we hope to erode people’s dependency on commercial software by offering a truly amazing, totally free alternative.

I didn’t talk to much about NetXMS because, quite frankly, I had never heard of it. It seems like they have been around for awhile and it also seems like they are truly open source. I found it amusing that the two FOSS options in the article were both tested on Windows.

Anyway, the article is worth checking out if you are in to that sort of thing. I’ll be interested to see how OpenNMS ranks in a year when the GUI is finished.

OpenNMS be Killer, yo

It was cool to see OpenNMS mentioned in an article on Silicon India called “Ten Killer Open Source Networking Tools”.

It was included with Cacti, and I think their analysis was valid. I haven’t been exposed to Cacti very much but they do make it easy to create aggregate reports, and if you use the RRDtool option in OpenNMS you can create files that Cacti can easily manage. I think we could improve OpenNMS by borrowing some of their ideas.

I also thought it was cool that RANCID was also mentioned, since we have a nice integration with it. It’s always nice to see OpenNMS mentioned in the technical press.

Juniper Networks Includes OpenNMS in Junos Space

We’re very excited to be able to announce that Juniper Networks has licensed OpenNMS through the “Powered by OpenNMS” program to bring Fault and Performance Management to their Junos Space management application.

The full press release is now online. We met with them at Dev-Jam this year in Minnesota, and things progressed rapidly from there. The fact that a company with such a solid reputation as Juniper would choose to make OpenNMS part of its product suite should go a long way to validating the work we’ve done with the project, and I look forward to working with them for years to come.

Hershey Medical Center

One of the best ways to market your company is through customer stories. The downside: getting approval to post something publicly usually takes an extremely long time. We have one customer, a private equity firm, that won’t even let us recognize they exist (we use a code name, even internally).

But since we have great customers it is worth the effort and the wait. Today I was able to post a story from Hershey Medical Center that has been in the works for a year. I just did some consulting for them last week, and we were able to get it finished then.

Dale Meyerhoffer, Senior Network Analyst at HMC, has been a client for over three years now. I must say, that if I were tasked to make up the most flattering customer story I could think of, I’d have a hard time matching this.

We are humbled that he took the time to talk about his OpenNMS experience, and I hope it goes a long way toward removing any doubts people might have about switching.

OpenNMS in LinuxPro Magazine

In the February edition of LinuxPro Magazine there is a nice article on OpenNMS.

Called “Big Time“, the author Kurt Seifried discusses using OpenNMS to monitor very large networks.

It is a pretty positive article. The only complaint I can raise is that it was against OpenNMS 1.9, which is our development release. In the section “What’s Wrong with OpenNMS” he quite fairly raises some issues with IPv6 support, but that code is definitely alpha and will be much better by the time 1.9 becomes 1.10.

Other than that, it is obvious that the author spent some time with the software and really “kicked the tires”. I am hoping that the article causes a few more people to check out our work.