OpenNMS: Monitoring large systems and networks

Big Time


If you need to monitor very large networks, you need powerful software. OpenNMS offers serious monitoring capabilities in a truly open source package.

Despite administrators’ best efforts, networks, servers, and services are destined to fail at some point. Sometimes the failure is obvious (a fan goes out or a backhoe meets your network cable), and sometimes the failure is subtle (a DNS change that breaks email to a server).

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  • Good Article...from a fanboy perspective

    As a career enterprise management tech and user (or experimenter) with MANY network management tools, I would say the article captures the technical overview and clear feature / benefit that OpenNMS offers. While Java haters would pan the reliance on Java, that is just a technology choice, not a disadvantage. The requirement of postgresql while not as ideal as having an open DB back end is again a technology choice that should work for anyone with SQL knowledge. However, one thing that is troubling about the article is that it fails to note that the GUI is very poor compared with most other network monitoring tools. The information is there, but in most cases it isn't obvious what it means. Using the GUI to configure OpenNMS is an even bigger challenge and as far as the documentation...not much help. The inadequacy of the GUI is suspiciously absent from the "What's Wrong with OpenNMS?". My last point is that in the final conclusions the author states:

    Because OpenNMS truly is open source (GPL licensed), you
    won’t get stuck in an expensive bait and switch situation,
    where the vendor gives out a slightly crippled open source version,
    but you need to buy a commercial version to get the features
    or scalability that you need.

    To me this undermines the credibility of the review. Anybody who follows the network monitoring tools market knows that Tarus Balog, the leader of the OpenNMS project is the self appointed Czar of protecting the Open Source dream. One of his standard rants is around what he calls Open Core vendors who allegedly do what the author calls "an expensive bait and switch situation". I see the value in preserving the true Open Source ideals, but some of the other companies that employ Open Core type business practices have the right to utilize Open Source to get their message out and to peddle their wares to willing customers. This is not that far from the OpenNMS model of our code is totally free, now that you like it, please pay me to come help you install / configure / manage it. I expect a review of a product to be factual with expert technical opinions without a blatant slight to other products that offer a different but successful business model.
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Read full article as PDF:

038-041_openNMS.pdf (3.03 MB)