Polling Configuration How-To

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Originally written by Tarus Balog tarus@opennms.org. This page based on v1.0.2 from August 2002.



This How-To is one in a series designed to serve as a reference for getting started with OpenNMS. Eventually, these documents will cover everything necessary to get OpenNMS installed and running in your environment.


Content is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike2.5 License.

Corrections and Omissions

Please submit any corrections and omissions to the author.


OpenNMS is an enterprise-grade network management platform developed under the open-source model. Unlike traditional network management products which are very focused on network elements such as interfaces on switches and routers, OpenNMS focuses on the services network resources provide: web pages, database access, DNS, DHCP, etc. (although information on network elements is also available).

There are two major ways that OpenNMS gathers data about the network. The first is through polling. Processes called monitors connect to a network resource and perform a simple test to see if the resource is responding correctly. If not, events are generated. The second is through data collection using collectors. Currently, the only collector is for SNMP data, and it will be covered in another How-To.

The basic idea behind the poller starts with grouping network devices into packages. Each package will consist of various services and how they are to be polled (i.e. frequency). In addition, should an outage be detected, each package can have its own downtime model which controls how the poller will dynamically adjust its polling on services that are down. Finally, each package has an outage calendar that schedules times when the poller is not to poll (i.e. scheduled downtime).

The poller will only operate on interfaces and services that have been previously discovered by Provisiond (see the Discovery How-To for information on configuring that process).

Outages are an output of the poller, as are the nodeLostService / nodeRegainedService and equivalent paired events for interface- and node-level outages. When the poller sees an outage, it broadcasts a "down" event and opens an outage. Persisting the outage to the DB is Pollerd's job; persisting the event is Eventd's job. Internally, the event bus is implemented as a FIFO queue, so events cannot "leap-frog" each other while they're on the bus.


The Poller Configuration File Header

Polling in OpenNMS is controlled by the poller-configuration.xml file.

Let's look at that file:

<poller-configuration threads="30" serviceUnresponsiveEnabled="false" pathOutageEnabled="false">
        <node-outage status="on"
                <critical-service name="ICMP"/>

There are three basic behaviors that are configured in the header of this file:

poller-configuration threads 
This determines the maximum number of threads that will be used for polling, and can be adjusted up or down depending on the size of your network and the power of your server. (See Performance tuning#Poller threads.)
A poll consists of a connection to a particular port on a remote interface, and then a test to see if the service on that port returns an expected response. If the response is not received within the timeout, the service is considered down. In some networks, however, short, intermittent failures are common. This will result in what is known as a "30 second outage". Due to the default downtime model, a failed service will be polled again in 30 seconds. Note that this is a real problem: a user attempting to access that resource would also have experienced a timeout. But in some networks these 30 second outages can be annoying yet hard to correct. So the option was added to denote a failure as when the port connection fails and not the response. In this case, an unresponsive service does not generate an outage, but only a "service unresponsive" event. To enable this behavior, set this value to "true".
The basic event that is generated when a poll fails is called "NodeLostService". If more than one service is lost, multiple NodeLostService events will be generated. If all the services on an interface are down, instead of a NodeLostService event, an "InterfaceDown" event will be generated. If all the interfaces on a node are down, the node itself can be considered down, and this section of the configuration file controls the poller behavior should that occur. If a "NodeDown" event occurs and node-outage status="on" then all of the InterfaceDown and NodeLostService events will be suppressed and only a NodeDown event will be generated. Instead of attempting to poll all the services on the down node, the poller will attempt to poll only the critical-service, by default ICMP. Once the critical service returns, the poller will then resume polling the other services. If the critical service is not available on a node, the pollAllIfNoCriticalServiceDefined parameter controls the behavior. If set to "true" then all services will be polled. If set to "false" then the first service in the package that exists on the node will be polled until service is restored, and then polling will resume for all services.

It is also here that you can activate the "path outage" functionnality, with the pathOutageEnabled parameter (see also Path Outage configuration). The path outage functionnality is disabled be default.

Note that any changes to this file will not take affect until OpenNMS is restarted (note 2011/11/25: Apparently, this is not the case anymore as of OpenNMS 1.6. to be confirmed).

The full XML schema specification of this file can be found here.

Poller Packages

A poller package consists of a name, a group of interfaces to poll, and the services to be polled on those interfaces. Multiple packages can be configured, and an interface can exist in more than one package (although the value of that is questionable). This gives great flexibility to how the service levels will be determined for a given device.

For example, you could build packages based upon different polling rates, say, "gold", "silver" and "bronze". In the gold package, services would be polled every minute, the silver package every five minutes and the bronze package every fifteen. Or, you could build different poller packages based upon levels of monitoring. A "basic" package may just poll ICMP and HTTP, whereas a "deluxe" package would include databases, etc..

In addition to a list of services, each package can have a "downtime" model and an "outage calendar", both discussed below.

The definition of a package starts with a package tag:

<package name="example1">

This is followed by a list of tags that define what interfaces will be included in the package. There are five of these tags:


Each package must have a filter tag that performs the initial test to see if an interface should be included in a package. Filters operate on interfaces (not nodes) and are discussed on the filters page. Only one filter statement can exist per package.


This specifies a particular IP address to include in a package.

<include-range begin="" end=""/>

This specifies a particular range of IP addresses to include in a package.

<exclude-range begin="" end=""/>

This specifies a particular range of IP addresses to exclude in a package. This will override an include-range tag.


This tag will point to a file that consists of a list of IP addresses, one to a line, that will be included in the package. Comments can be imbedded in this file. Any line that begins with a "#" character will be ignored, as will the remainder of any line that includes a space followed by "#".

All of the above tags, except for filter, are optional and unbounded.

Poller Services

Once the IP addresses to include in a package are defined, the services to be polled are listed. For example:

<service name="DNS" interval="300000" user-defined="false" status="on">
  <parameter key="retry" value="3"/>
  <parameter key="timeout" value="5000"/>
  <parameter key="port" value="53"/>
  <parameter key="lookup" value="localhost"/>

The common parameters for the poller service are as follows:

The number of attempts that will be made to connect to the service. Default is
The amount of time, in milliseconds, that OpenNMS will wait for a response from the service. Default is

This will poll the DNS service once every five minutes (300,000 ms). Since users can define new services to be polled, the user-defined attribute indicates this for a particular service. Polling can also be universally stopped for a particular service, indicated by the status tag. Note that the service configuration parameters in the poller can be different from the detector configuration in the foreign-source definition, but the service names in these two places must match exactly. You may want a longer timeout during service detection, for example. Also, in this example, a DNS request will be made to look up "localhost". This should return an error (as localhost is usually not listed in a DNS) but if that error is returned, DNS is functioning properly and the test passes. Microsoft's implementation of DNS, however, sometimes has problems with this, so you may want to put a real host for the lookup value (and in the detector entry in the foreign-source definition as well).

There must be at least one service defined per package.

Scheduled Outages

In order to keep servers operating properly, it is often necessary to bring them down for scheduled maintenance. Instead of having these maintenance outages reflected as a true service outage, they can be included in a Scheduled Outage and then referenced by the poller package using the outage-calendar tag. This tag contains the name of a valid outage in the poll-outages.xml file.

The outage-calendar tag is optional and unbounded (i.e. you can reference more than one outage).

Since version 1.5.91 you can configure scheduled outages from the GUI, got to Admin -> Scheduled Outages. Note that scheduled outages may be edited fully from the web UI; it's no longer necessary to edit the poller configuration manually to associate a scheduled outage with a poller package, although it's still possible.

Before version 1.5.91, there were three types of scheduled outages: weekly, monthly and specific. Since 1.5.91 there is also the possibility to configure daily scheduled outages.

If you have the problem that nodes are reported to be down although they are within a daily outage which goes past midnight, try to define two timespans within the outage, one until midnight and the other one starting after midnight, e.g. instead of outage 22:00:00-01:00:00 define 22:00:00-23:59:59 and 00:00:00-01:00:00.

Examples from the poll-outages.xml file:

<outage name="global" type="weekly">
  <time day="sunday" begins="12:30:00" ends="12:45:00"/>
  <time day="sunday" begins="13:30:00" ends="14:45:00"/>
  <time day="monday" begins="13:30:00" ends="14:45:00"/>
  <time day="tuesday" begins="13:00:00" ends="14:45:00"/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>

This defines an outage calendar called "global" that is run every week. It specifies four outage times: Sunday starting at 12:30 pm and lasting 15 minutes, Sunday starting at 1:30 pm and lasting an hour and fifteen minutes, the same outage on Monday, and one on Tuesday from 1:00 pm to 2:45 pm. This is to demonstrate that you can have multiple outages on a given day and the same outage on different days. Three interfaces will be affected.

<outage name="hub maintenance" type="monthly">
  <time day="1" begins="23:30:00" ends="23:45:00"/>
  <time day="15" begins="21:30:00" ends="21:45:00"/>
  <time day="15" begins="23:30:00" ends="23:45:00"/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>
  <interface address=""/>

This outage calendar is called "hub maintenance" that is run every month. On the first of the month the outage begins at 11:30 pm and lasts 15 minutes. The same outage occurs on the 15th of the month in addition to another outage from 9:30 pm to 9:45 pm. Thus you can have the same outage on different dates as well as more than one outage on a particular date. Eight interfaces are affected by this outage.

<outage name="proxy server tuning" type="specific">
  <time begins="10-Nov-2001 17:30:00" ends="11-Nov-2001 08:00:00"/>
  <interface address=""/>

It is also possible to include an outage on a specific date and time. This outage named "proxy server tuning" began on November 10th, 2001 at 5:30 pm and lasted until 8:00 am the next day. This affected one interface. You can have more than one "time" entry per specific outage.

If a particular outage calendar is included in a poller package, then polling will not occur during this time. Note that this does not mean that the service will be considered "up" during this time. If the maintenance is started a minute too soon and an outage is detected, then no poll will be made to restore the service until after the outage window has closed.

Downtime Models

One of the most powerful features of the OpenNMS poller is its downtime models. The goal of the poller is to verify service levels, and everyone involved would like to see those be as high as possible. By default, the poller will poll every five minutes. If that polling rate was static, then the shortest an outage could be would be five minutes: one poll to note the outage and the next to note it was restored. In these days of service levels in the "99.99%" range, a five minute outage can be devastating. You might as well guarantee "100%" availability since any outage will break your service level agreement.

To help combat this, OpenNMS uses adaptive polling. Once an outage is detected, polling is temporarily increased to try and detect, as soon as possible, when the service is restored.

<downtime interval="30000" begin="0" end="300000"/>             <!-- 30s, 0, 5m -->
<downtime interval="300000" begin="300000" end="43200000"/>     <!-- 5m, 5m, 12h -->
<downtime interval="600000" begin="43200000" end="432000000"/>  <!-- 10m, 12h, 5d -->
<downtime begin="432000000" delete="true"/>                     <!-- anything after 5 days delete -->

What this downtime model will do is the following: from the moment the outage begins (time 0) until five minutes later (time 300,000 ms), the poller will poll every 30 seconds (30,000 ms). After five minutes, it is assumed that any service level that would be greatly affected by a five minute outage has been broken, so from five minutes (300,000 ms) into the outage until the first 12 hours of the outage (43,200,000 ms) polling resumes its five minute (300,000 ms) interval.

If the outage is older than 12 hours, it must not be important and/or it is difficult to fix, so from when the outage is 12 hours old until it is 5 days (432,000,000 ms) old, the interval is reduced to poll once every ten minutes (600,000 ms).

If a service has been down for longer than five days, it is deleted (well, marked as "forced unmanaged") and no longer polled. Note that this is optional, you can continue to poll a down service for as long as you would like. For the last downtime interval in the model, just leave the "end" time off in order to extend polling indefinitely.

N.B. - downtime is a mandatory section of the Package xml specification. If you include it elsewhere in your poller-configuration.xml file, but neglect to declare it for your new package, OpenNMS will refuse to start, and gives you a message "http://xmlns.opennms.org/xsd/config/poller":downtime}' is expected" - you can just copy and paste the same section from elsewhere in the file.

Poller Monitors

For each service in a poller package, there must be a corresponding monitor. In the detector configuration in the foreign-source definition, the detector class was included in the detector entry itself, but since there is the potential for a particular service to exist many times in the poller configuration file, this bit of bookkeeping was put, once, at the end of the file.

<monitor service="DominoIIOP"   class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.DominoIIOPMonitor"/>
<monitor service="ICMP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.IcmpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="Citrix"       class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.CitrixMonitor"/>
<monitor service="LDAP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.LdapMonitor"/>
<monitor service="HTTP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.HttpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="HTTP-8080"    class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.HttpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="HTTP-8000"    class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.HttpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="HTTPS"        class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.HttpsMonitor"/>
<monitor service="SMTP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.SmtpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="DHCP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.DhcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="DNS"          class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.DnsMonitor" />
<monitor service="FTP"          class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.FtpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="SNMP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.SnmpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="Oracle"       class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="Postgres"     class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="MySQL"        class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="Sybase"       class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="Informix"     class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="SQLServer"    class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="SSH"          class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.TcpMonitor"/>
<monitor service="IMAP"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.ImapMonitor"/>
<monitor service="POP3"         class-name="org.opennms.netmgt.poller.Pop3Monitor"/>

You should not need to modify this section unless you manually add your own pollers.

Documentation for Specific Pollers

Some documentation has been written for:


It is hoped that this How-To has proved useful. Please direct corrections and comments to the author.


Monitoring a Dell PowerEdge Expandable RAID Controller 3/Di