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About the OpenNMS Project

Q: What is OpenNMS?

A: OpenNMS, the application, is a network management platform developed under the open-source model.

The goal is for OpenNMS to be a truly distributed, scalable platform for all aspects of the FCAPS network management model, and to make this platform available to both open source and commercial applications.

Currently, OpenNMS focuses on three main areas:

  • Service Polling - determining service availability and reporting on same.
  • Performance Data Collection - collecting, storing and reporting on network information as well as generating thresholds.
  • Event and Notification Management - receiving events, both internal and external, e.g. Syslog or SNMP Traps, and using those events to feed a robust notification system, including escalation.

The OpenNMS Group is the commercial entity that funds the OpenNMS application development.

Q: What does NMS stand for?

A: Standard industry term referring to a network management system.

Q: Why Open Source?

A: We believe that true innovation cannot come from Goliath-sized organizations.

We also believe that open source is an even better fit for the network management arena than Linux is for operating systems. Unlike Linux, network management attempts to monitor and control many different technologies from many different vendors.

Consider the number of new network devices which come out every year. Commercial vendors cannot possibly hope to keep up with the load, and as such, have been reliant on "lowest common denominator" management techniques. However, an open source project where everyone — vendors, users, and consultants alike — can contribute stands a much higher probability of success.

Q: What language(s) is OpenNMS written in?

A: OpenNMS is mainly written in Java.

There are a few areas that aren't Java:

  • JICMP / JICMP6 - Implementation of the ICMP protocol is written in C. Since ICMP echo requests ("pings") are the simplest way to test the responsiveness of an IP-based network device, no network management application will be complete without it.
  • JRRD / JRRD2 - OpenNMS uses a Java based RRDtool alternative named JRobin by default, it is possible to use latest RRDtool by installing JRRD / JRRD2 adapter to leverage latest RRDtool functionalities.

Q: Does OpenNMS Have a Map?

A: This is probably one of the most frequent questions asked by people new to OpenNMS: where's the map? OpenNMS comes with several visualization possibilities. Starting from a alarm or outage heatmap, geographical map, network topology map, VMware topology and Business Service Hierarchy visualization.

Q: Where Is Information on the Current OpenNMS Release?

A: The Release Notes give you information about latest version and detailed change logs. Every week there is a This Week In OpenNMS blog post which keeps you up-to-date with current development in OpenNMS.

Q: What are the Supported Platforms?

A: As OpenNMS is written mainly in Java, it is recommended to use latest stable Oracle Java Development Kit.

Currently, the following Operating Systems are Supported with up-to-date builds:

  • Linux
    • lates RHEL / CentOS
    • latest Debian and Ubuntu LTS
  • Microsoft Windows
    • latest Windows Server

For detailed information see Installation Guide

Q: What makes this project different from Nagios?

A: In addition to Nagios, people often ask about OpenNMS as compared to another large non-commercial network management project, Big Brother.

To discuss Big Brother first, their "Better than Free" license does not really qualify as a true open source license like the GNU GPL that both OpenNMS and Nagios are published under, so it can't really be considered in a comparison. This is not to discount the large Big Brother user community - if it works for you, great - but true open-source community-based developement is different from freeware/shareware.

As far as Nagios is concerned, the main difference is that OpenNMS was developed from the beginning to be an enterprise-grade solution capable of monitoring a theoretically unlimited number of devices (via a distributed and tiered system). OpenNMS also implements management protocols like SNMP, WMI or JMX without the need for external 3rd party tools.

This was even alluded to with respect to SNMP datacollection in the Nagios documentation:

Note: Nagios is not designed to be a replacement for a full-blown SNMP management application like HP OpenView or OpenNMS.

We sometimes compete with Nagios, but they are not our enemy. We look to that project to see where we can improve (such as by adding a log file parser). Use what works for you and what meets your needs. We have some people using OpenNMS to monitor 25 servers or fewer, just because they like it, and we have people using OpenNMS to monitor 80,000 devices, which can be hard for any product to do well.

Q: Do you have some example availability reports that I could look at?

A: Sure, check the availability reports page.