Community open source is open source that is not owned by any particular company. Rather, ownership is shared among a large number of diverse stakeholders. Given the right (read: permissive) license, commercial companies can provide extensions to the community project, earning a living. Since such extensions are a unique selling point of these companies, one might think that they would prefer to keep the community project small and limited in features to facilitate an easy upsell to their more comprehensive offering. This thought becomes particularly intriguing given that commercial companies typically hire the core developers of such community projects to bring the necessary expertise in-house, and as some argue, to influence the project to their liking.
For your information, a note from Dave Humphrey on LUX, a new graduate program on Linux and Open Source System Administration at Seneca College, Toronto, ON.
I wanted to let you know about a new graduate program we’re launching in September on Linux and open source system administration. LUX is designed for industry people who want to move into an open source Linux community—we’re partnering with Red Hat and Fedora—and is structured so people can still work while they study.
Following up on related discussions, another common confusion in my opinion is to think that “open source” is a business model. It is not. Open source is a business strategy, in support of a business model. You still need to know how to make money, and it doesn’t happen by giving software away for free. That is to say, you need a business model like selling subscription or implementation services.
The most common commercial open source business strategy is the “dual-license strategy” as demonstrated by MySQL, Alfresco, etc. This particular business strategy is mostly a go-to-market strategy, a way by which the commercial open source company penetrates customers and fosters the sale. I’ve blogged about this before here and here.
There is more to say, obviously, and I’m working on it. Any thoughts would be appreciated!a
Commercial open source has a peculiar sales process. Frequently, when a firm decides to buy (license) a specific type of software like a content management system or a wiki engine, they’ll find that their company already employs multiple solutions, downloaded for free from the Internet. By some measures, this is dangerous to IT governance, as it bypasses corporate purchasing and operating regulations. On the other hand, open source empowers IT users to make their own decisions early on without having to go through lengthy approval processes, keeping them nimble and speedy. So, is commercial open source good or bad for IT operations and the CIO?
Commercial open source firms go to market trying to create an “unfair” competitive advantage that lets them win customers more easily than their competitors. So do most other companies. Commercial open source firms do this by bypassing the traditional purchasing process by getting their software into customer companies for free, before the customers even know they will need the software. But is an employee’s decision to install a piece of open source software a good decision for the company? After all, every software locks in its users, whether open source or not.