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Will OpenNMS v Netcool be the Getteysburg of IT Management

By John | July 22, 2008

During a recent IT Management podcast, Tarus Balog of OpenNMS was making some bold statements about OpenNMS against the IBM Netcool network management products (formally Micromuse’s Precision).  Tarus claimed that in the Telco industry OpenNMS is having some significant success with recent clients like Telecom Italia and Swisscom. I tried to cut Tarus off at the knees a little by asking about possible scalability issues with OpenNMS and Telcos.  This is an area where the Netcool network management product, Precision and OmniBus, have always thrived.  For quite a few years the Netcool products have been considered the best of bread in this space.  In fact IBM paid 1 Billion dollars to purchase Micromuse based on that assumption.   Netcool Precision and Omnibus have always been known for their signature robust management and handling of shops that require 1 million plus per day events.  However, Tarus didn’t flinch when I hit him with the scalability questions.  Tarus claims that OpenMNS can handle 2k per second bursts of events with the Italian Telco they are now working with.  In fact because OpenNMS is developed in Java it has been easy for them to add things like Hibernate in-memory databases for handling this type of scalability.  Even Doug McClure of IBM, who came from the Micromuse side of the IBM acquisition, sounded impressed with his review of the podcast.  There have been some other comparisons regarding OpenNMS vs. Netcool done in the blogoshpere over the last year as well.

Here’s the rub!  The IBM Tivoli Network Manager for IP product (formally Precision), in some cases,  costs around around 10x the cost of OpenNMS’s most expensive service agreement.  Therefore if everyone agrees that the two products are close in functionaility then maybe it will be OpenNMS that draws first blood and becomes the turing point in the “Big 4 vs. Little 4″ war.

Topics: ibm, netcool, opennms, other | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Will OpenNMS v Netcool be the Getteysburg of IT Management”

  1. Mike Silvey Says:
    July 26th, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Hi – as one of the original co-founders of both Micromuse (Netcool Omnibus) and RiverSoft (Netcool Precision), I have to say that there Netcool suffers from two Achilles Heels which mean it’s become a little difficult for it to walk the talk any more!

    (i) Old technology platform. Frankly, even the current architecture is based upon the same platform written by Phil Tee back in 1992! Modern database technologies, if architected effectively, surpass Netcool even when writing to disk.
    (ii) Complexity of Administration. Yes, it’s our fault, we never fixed it. To configure Netcool is so complex you need a Ph.D. And that’s why the cost of ownership is so high.

    The thing the Podcast missed and the thing that nobody seems to mention in the OSS/Enterprise Event Console market, is that cost of ownership is the key to an effective platform, not events per second. Events per second is easy, cost of ownership is a Tax.

    Cost of ownership comes from the complexity of configuration of Mediation, Filtering, Correlation, and Business Process Integration.

    It does not matter whether your support contract is cheaper than Netcool, if either or both of Netcool or OpenNMS have a cost of configuration and maintenance that is equal to or higher than the value obtainable from the platform over the life of the platform, then the economics do not make sense!

    Watch this space for ‘RiverMuse’ (

    RiverMuse is a Telco grade Enterprise Event Console that outperforms Netcool Omnibus in terms of performance and out of the box capabilities, while offering a configuration platform that is coherent, centralized, handles Mediation, Filtering, Correlation and Business Process Integration, and can be operated by Helpdesk staff (given the appropriate user authorization!).

    RiverMuse will be offered as an Open Source platform, but with full accountable support and maintenance services.

    Mike Silvey (

  2. Doug McClure Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 4:12 pm


    You’re totally spot on here! Coming from where I did and having to justify my staff footprint, the “tax” was absurd. What’s the answer here? Content out of the box, wizards, “web 2.0″ like enablers?

    Can’t wait to hear more about your current startup portfolio! I’m also keen on hearing your thoughts on how BSM fits into RiverMuse and Prelert!


  3. Mike Silvey Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the comment Doug…now, not sure if I should be using John’s site for blatent marketeering or my [fairly strong] views on BSM, what it is, what it means, and how it’s catered for by the market today…I think I might make myself a few enemies…but, here goes…

    Promethyan Labs (partnered by Phil Tee, Rupesh Chatwani and myself) is a technology gestation company, kind of chimera of venture capitalist and Bell Labs (we should be so lucky!), and two of the companies we’re gestating are RiverMuse (Open Source Enterprise Event Management) and Prelert (Probable Risk Forecasting – both real-time [Prelert:Impact] and future bottleneck modeling [Prelert:Capacity].

    RiverMuse will be publicly launched shortly, so we’re welcoming RiverMuse Revolutionaries to come join up just as soon as the web site is launched. The Mantra is “I can manage without…” and I think readers might get the drift as to what the “…” could be!

    Now to BSM. Frankly, if we’re plain speaking here, I don’t think anyone has a handle on Business Service Management today, neither the concept, nor in the practical execution!

    To me [qualified!], a ‘Business Service’ means the identification of a Business Activity of some kind (for example, a Market Data Exchange in an Investment Bank, or the End to End delivery of VoD/IPTV with a Telco) represented as a Managed Object in our OSS.

    The act of Business Service Management therefore would be to apply FCAPS principles to that Managed Object – that is to be able to identify faults that impact the Service, monitor the performance profile of that Service against an agreed level of Service (SLA), and configure and secure that Service.

    No imho, we’re not really able to do this today – perhaps the closest we can get is the “C” with provisioning and inventory tools, however where we have a mesh infrastructure supporting the service, we’re unlikely even to be able to quantify that Service as a unified managed object in any meaningful manner.

    OK, so you can employ increasing hordes of operations management staff and have them spend their time continually ‘mapping’ the components that comprise Business Services by configuring our management tools to ensure we can always be assured that we’re monitoring those services, but, this comes with a [major] cost [implication], and I believe anyhow is totally ineffective, if not irrelevant!

    Now, it would be fine if we could take a pragmatic line, look at the above and say “yeah right, the technology doesn’t allow us to look at services in any meaningful way so let’s not bother…but then…

    Unfortunately…since today, our core infrastructures are actually pretty resilient to outright failures, failures innevitably occur at the Services Layer – the User Layer, and i’m sure that you, like us, are seeing an increasing proportion of issues reported first by our Users, rather than our management tools. There are/were no events telling us that something has gone wrong, however the users are impacted because their services (VoIP, VoD, IPTV, IMS, Market Data Exchange, SAP Portal, RTI etc.) have degraded to a point that they are un-usable.

    (This has major financial repercussions – i.e. our favourite investment bank has taken a position on Fannie Mae only to find that their Market Data Exchange has failed [the network is still OK!] and their traders cannot unwind that position quickly as the news from Bloomberg comes in over the Satellite TV! – that’s enough to get us all out on the street…but also for the Telco, where VoIP, IPTV and other services issues impact our service level agreements with our customers – if they can’t make a phone call, they have the power to switch provider and pretty darn quickly for example.)

    Business Services are impacted by multiple simultaneous degradations of components in the infrastructure, and there are no events and there are normally no outright failures that can lead to a root cause event – so our normal management tools are irrelevant and [again imho] we cannot manage Business Services.

    So, what we’re attempting to do with Prelert is offer a candidate solution to that problem – show the changing probability of the risk of interruption to a Business Service in real-time, and allow customers to run load scenarios to show what infrastructure components are at risk of causing service failures through capacity bottlenecks.

    The former offers a lower cost of operations (customers can avert the issue before it occurs, never incurring the Cost of Impact charges) and the latter offers optimization of infrastructure budget spend (no more blanket upgrades, allowing targeted spending on key componentry).

    It’s clear though that the company that can truly and effectively “manage” Business Services will be offering tangible value to its customers.

    Note to John: I hope this is not too cheeky using your Blog as my mouthpiece, i’m not much of a blogger myself, so feel free to edit and remove, I would not want to abuse your hospitality

    Mike (

  4. links for 2008-07-29 — Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    [...] Rivermuse :: Will OpenNMS v Netcool be the Getteysburg of IT Management | IT Management and Cloud Bl… the thing that nobody seems to mention in the OSS/Enterprise Event Console market, is that cost of ownership is the key to an effective platform, not events per second. Events per second is easy, cost of ownership is a Tax. [...]

  5. Berkay Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I’m surprised to see how these products are intermingled. When I listened the podcase, I was surprised to hear Tarus to pin OpenNMS against Netcool Omnibus rather than against Precision. To me OpenNMS is much more like Precision (and HPOV NNM) than Omnibus. These are SNMP monitoring tools that poll devices via SNMP, receive traps etc. Omnibus is an event management platform, (aka manager of managers). Yes OpenNMS has events/alerts as well, but don’t think it is a manager of managers.
    I have not seen any substantial comparisions of OpenNMS vs network monitoring solutions from established players (Precision, Smarts, Aprisma). Number of events per second is hardly the biggest challenge in monitoring telco networks which are complex, often contain every networking technology under the sun since dawn of civilization.

  6. Doug McClure Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 12:09 pm


    Spot on. I’ll share some of my thoughts on my blog and we can focus the BSM discussion a bit more there.

    Regardless, keep us all in the loop. John’s blog and the IT Management Podcast are great venues to getting the word out, testing the waters and developing interest.

    The go to market strategy and how you position the sales engagement, support and services engagement (ideal for real value in operationalizing this stuff) will be critical!


  7. People Over Process » IT Management Podcast #17 - Agent Builder/ACE, iPhone Telneting, iLog, RiverMuse, Cloud Hype Explosion, and Thin Desktops Says:
    August 6th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    [...] We then talk about the telneting and other remote command-shell applications available for the iPhone – seemingly no SSH, though. Tracking back into IBM land John asks briefly about the iLog acquisition, and we talk about a new open source event management startup in the works. [...]

  8. Glen Bremner-Stokes Says:
    October 20th, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Please could you keep me posted on rivermuse. I would love to offer services and support the push into the UK and broader EMEA.

    I was a lead pre-sales engineer at Muse from 2001 to the acquisition and have now set up an open source focussed company in the UK.

    One thing I have specialised in is the building of software appliances. The first one is a web gateway that allows you to telnet or ssh directly from a browser with no java applets or activeX (all ajax) – awesome for configuring routers or remote support on Linux from a PDA or internet cafe.

    So that experience would possibly be the first thing I would want to add to the mix.

    I also have some market segments that I would like to target in the UK and am working with ex-Muse marketing people on those.

  9. Speaker City » Links for October 30th Says:
    October 30th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    [...] Will OpenNMS v Netcool be the Getteysburg of IT Management | IT Management and Cloud Blog – in some cases, costs around around 10x the cost of OpenNMS’s most expensive service agreement. Therefore if everyone agrees that the two products are close in functionaility then maybe it will be OpenNMS that draws first blood and becomes the turing point in the “Big 4 vs. Little 4″ war. [...]