Complex IT networks and their services surround us and are an essential part of everyday life. Laptops, mobile phones, email, printers, payment systems, smart appliances, hospital monitors, and more connect us locally and internationally. No one can afford to have any part of their network slow down or stop working. The OpenNMS Group, Inc., a subsidiary of NantHealth, Inc., released OpenNMS to help enterprises monitor their network infrastructure to spot potential issues so they can fix them quickly before they become catastrophic problems for employees, customers, and day-to-day operations.
OpenNMS is an open-source network monitoring system (NMS) that helps enterprises keep track of devices and services on their network. Remember the last time a payment system went down just as you were checking out? OpenNMS aims to prevent that from happening.
Just as doctors use a person’s healthcare data to diagnose and treat each patient, network administrators use data and metrics from network components to determine how well that component is operating. Whether a patient is running a temperature of 103°F or the email server is starting to overheat, someone needs to know so they can decide the best course of action to resolve the situation before it gets worse.
Centralized network monitoring
The ability to customize almost every aspect of OpenNMS lets administrators specify what to monitor, how to monitor it, and the conditions under which they receive alerts when a problem occurs. OpenNMS collects data, processes it, and makes it available for visualization on a central dashboard that users can access from anywhere. Network administrators can easily see where and how serious a problem is and alert team members as necessary to resolve it quickly. They can also generate reports on this information to help with network planning and other important strategic or operational decisions.
Scale, extend, customize
Since almost every network component produces metrics (like bandwidth use, rate of transmission, delays, availability, temperature, connectivity), the volume of information can be huge, proportional to the network’s size and complexity.
OpenNMS scales to monitor hundreds of thousands of devices and the metrics they produce. It is also highly extensible, which makes it easier to develop new features and to configure it for each unique network environment. Enterprises can also integrate OpenNMS with their existing workflows, rather than needing to adapt their workflows to OpenNMS.
In fact, OpenNMS is so customizable that someone could (and did) set up a network operations center (NOC) to monitor a network in Minecraft with real OpenNMS data. (Maybe your kids aren’t wasting their time after all!)
Why open source?
One of the cornerstones of open-source development is that anyone can contribute. While a core team of people may oversee and manage an open-source project (like The OpenNMS Group does), the project belongs to the community that uses and supports it. This approach can mean better innovation, faster releases, and the ability to know exactly what users want and need. Openness also means transparent testing: users report bugs quickly, allowing for faster turnaround times and constant software improvement. Anyone can see the bug fixes and development that are currently happening in the project.
The OpenNMS Group reviews all contributions to its source code (from employees and community members alike), leads project development, and manages builds, release schedules, product development, marketing, sales, and other aspects of operations. Users and customers feel invested in the project and want to collaborate to make it better.
OpenNMS in action
Large and small enterprises across a wide variety of sectors use OpenNMS. Healthcare, retail, telecoms, technology, finance, education, utilities, military, and government agencies are just a few of them. Typical users include system administrators, network diagnostic specialists, network security analysts, network architects, and system integrators.
Regardless of the industry, wherever a network needs to be monitored, OpenNMS can do it.