Amon goes Open Source

By Martin Rusev read

January 9th 2017 marks the 6th year since I have started working on Amon.

A lot has changed in the software world since 2011 and working on Amon all these years gave me the opportunity to observe all the changes from a close distance.

Amon first started and got popular as an open source project. It was well received on Hacker News, got presented on the Changelog and people wrote reviews about it. I saw this interest and popularity as an opportunity for me to finally hang my freelance boots and become fully independent.

A couple of months after the release of the open source version I created a commercial version, called Amon Plus. It had some additional features compared to the open source version and right from the start - I wanted to continue working in "the open" - did not bother mangling the source code, enforcing usage limitations, sending telemetry data. It was - buy once, use forever, get the full source code and use as much as you want kind of software. The license fee applied only for access to new software updates.

In 2013 I realized how the focus is completely shifting toward the cloud and adapted Amon accordingly I still wanted to keep the spirit of openness and launched Amon Hybrid Cloud, which was an Amon instance, deployed in the cloud with a database running on the user machine. People paid for the convenience of the cloud and still had full control over their own data. This was a nice experiment and I learned a lot about networking and latency. The lesson learned - your apps have to live as close to the data store as possible.

This let me to the next phase for Amon, which was between 2015 - 2016. In 2015 I launched Amon Personal and Amon Enterprise, both of which were self-hosted, pay once use forever, commercial versions. For me this was yet another experiment where I learned a lot about sales, lead generation, content and social marketing and customer support and I was able to work on Amon full time and finally support myself on 100%.

At some point at the end of 2015, I started offering a cloud solution once again - this time 100% hosted. Over the course of 2016 I saw a rising amount of users who saw the value and convenience in having their Amon instance in the cloud. So much so, that by Summer 2016, 80% of the income generated from Amon came from the cloud users.

Things were looking good and this for me was a very good example where the devil is in the details and the data can be a misleading factor in understanding what is actually happening behind the scenes. When speaking to my users, I realized that they were originally drawn to the self-hosted version and the spirit of transparency and openness I try to promote - they were willing to use the cloud version, but only if they had the option to move to self-hosted when they desire.

This is part of a bigger trend in which we first saw the rise of SaaS companies, starting all the way back with web 2.0 in 2006 and then as time went by - the realization, at least in the tech community that the cloud could be a black box and you are trusting unknown amounts of personal and company data to a company that can use the information as they see fit.

A direct consequence of this trend we saw the rise to prominence of a new generation of open source / open core companies. Companies like Sentry, InfluxData, Grafana, Sensu, Weaveworks, Elastic, Graylog - the list goes on.

I personally believe in the idea - you run a commercial enterprise and at the same time keep the spirit of transparency and openness. You tap into the power of the community to develop and improve your product and you have a direct feedback line connecting you to your users.

This is where Amon goes next - I am going to return the project to its roots and make it open source again. You can find the project on Github - https://github.com/amonapp.

You can directly contribute(PR requests are welcome), give suggestions on how to make it better and you can freely deploy on your own infrastructure.

On the other side - If you don't like supporting yet another service and prefer to spent your time focusing on your customers and building your business - a hosted version of Amon will be always available for you.

To celebrate this new chapter for Amon - you can Signup for a hosted account using the promo code OPENSOURCE for a 3 month 25% discount.