RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — A bit of an earthquake will rattle LinuxWorld attendees in San Francisco today when startup OpenNMS of Pittsboro walks off with a top award.

Pitted against giants IBM Tivoli and Novell, OpenNMS will be proclaimed the winner in the LinuxWorld Best Systems Management Tools, the founder of the company tells Local Tech Wire.

“OpenNMS is the first enterprise-grade network management product to be developed using the open-source model,” says Tarus Balog, who helped launch the network management system (NMS) while at Oculan.

Oculan was a fast-growing Raleigh-based firm that developed network control and monitoring appliances before its financial backer, George Soros, pulled the plug. Oculan was later sold to a Minnesota group of entrepreneurs and sold again earlier this year to a New Jersey-based information technology firm. Work started on OpenNMS in 2000.

The OpenNMS victory may not be in the same category as the Joe Namath-led New York Jets upsetting the mighty Baltimore Colts, but in open source circles the triumph could be significant. After all, Balog and small company prevailed against some heavy hitters. The company landed its first paying customers in 2002.

In his email, Balog confesses, “We don’t have any marketing people” and notes that his company, which is based in Pittsboro, is “small”.

But just as the Internet and the web has proved to be the equalizer for many small firms against largest rivals, so has open source development helped OpenGroupNMS developed a network management system that has won an international customer base. In April, a Linux web site noted that Balog and his team of developers had more than 35 customers.

The award is “a rather prestigious” one, Balog notes modestly.

Balog describes the product, which can monitor up to 20,000 devices simultaneously, as “the first enterprise-grade network management product to be developed using the open-source model. It was designed from day one to be able to monitor tens of thousands of devices from a single instance of the application, and it aims to offer a better alternative to expensive commercial products such as Hewlett-Packard’s OpenView, Micromuse Netcool, and IBM’s Tivoli. The software is freely available and is supported by an international community of users and developers.”

OpenNMS offers a variety of for-fee consulting services to back the software.

The company maintains a separate open source web set for the NMS system:

Its corporate site is: