Jun 26

Exploring Open Source with The OG Open Source Guys at OpenNMS

Me in NC with the Guys from OpenNMS

I just got back from North Carolina to meet with the guys at OpenNMS about their website. These guys are OG open source network management software guys, since OpenNMS has been around since 1999.

It truly is refreshing to see a company that gets open source. Open source isn’t about some pie-in-the-sky ideal of what software or community is. Open source makes sense business wise.

To me, open source is about:
1.) freedom, since we can customize the code to do what we need it to do rather than what a software company decides is right for us.
2.) pragmatism, since we only have to pay for the part we need customized and yet we get all the other features for free.

It’s funny, everyone always asks, “How do you make money with open source?” This question equates open source with free, which open source is not. That is freeware. The OpenNMS Group is profitable because it provides support and customization for the OpenNMS project. The more they get the OpenNMS project out there and the better services they provide in helping customers’ networks run more efficiently, the more money they make. It’s pretty simple.

Open source empowers the user to put in as little or as much into a product as they wish. No other software model allows us to do that. Think of it like a political campaign. Generally those who spend the most money or effort have the most impact on how the software functions. If it works great as is, you don’t have to do anything. If it has bugs, help fix them. If you need it to do something else, make it do something else or hire someone else to make it do what you want. Just like democracy, open source communities are only as good as the people in them and need good leaders to keep mob mentalities in check.

Many thanks to Tarus, Dave, Ben and Matt for treating me so well and dealing with my 10,000 questions while I was in North Carolina.

  • http://www.carliefairchild.com carlie

    People ask me the same question all of the time — how does one make money with open source. It’s almost bewildering to me that they ask this with so many companies today incorporating and selling open source solutions so successfully. But I get it… I think the confusion lies with the definition of “free”.

    “Free” software gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify said software. Proprietary software denies users these benefits. It’s “free as in free speech” not “free as in free beer”.

    Good article — I’m totally with ya on this one. :)

    carlies last blog post..Mine Were Erect

  • http://www.pjbrunet.com/ PJ Brunet

    WordPress is an amazing example of open-source software, here we’re using it right now. And WordPress has its feet firmly planted on the ground: XHTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL. So it will outperform and outlast less-open alternatives well into the future.

    PJ Brunets last blog post..Earth to Idea City, Do You Read?

  • http://blogs.opennms.org/david David Hustace

    OG… I figured it was slang for “Old Guys” and since I had to look it up, it actually does in context, LOL.

    Michelle, thanks for all your help last week. The OpenNMS project surely benefits from your energy and hard work.

    David Hustaces last blog post..European Tour: Day 1

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle


    OG is most certainly an endearing term. I would love to be an open source OG.