Business models

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Recommended reading: Control and Community by The 451 Group

The 451 Group's annual report on the state of the open source business world is out. Already the title: Control and Community suggests they are once again on top of what has been going on this year. Analyzing about 300 open source related businesses they not only "get it right", but were actually able to uncover some facts even I was unaware of and this impressed me a lot. If an analyst can dig up statistics to back up something that I already "intuitively" know in my heart, that is a useful service. But if they can make me go "ah, I didn't know that" on a topic I consider myself quite an expert in, the I'm impressed!

This is an analyst report, available for a price that would be completely unreasonable for a private person. I was pondering whether I should go begging for a free copy to satisfy my curiosity on the topic. But that wasn't necessary, as the next day I was offered a copy by Matthew Aslett himself:

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Links: Andy Updegrove on the trend of Foundations, on OpenSQLCamp,

Links for today:

Community Rights and Community Wrongs
The Launch of the Document Foundation and the Oxymoron of Corporate Controlled "Community" Projects

Andy Updegrove makes observations of the trend in hosting Open Source projects in non-profit foundations rather than one company, much boosted by Oracle's acquisition and abandonment of Sun's software assets.

Knowing that an organization is “safe” to join, and will be managed for the benefit of the many and not of the privileged few, is one of the key attributes and assurances of “openness.”

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Tapping around Open Core and contributor agreements: Syslog-ng, Diaspora, FreeIPA

While back on the Open Core topic anyway, a few notes on how 3 projects have reacted to the debate and criticism of the past Summer.


I personally work mostly in the middleware layer of things, especially databases, so I'm most familiar with the open core practices of MySQL, SugarCRM, JasperSoft and others in this space. So when LWN reported on the open core backlash last Summer, it was the first time I learned that a syslog utility known as Syslog-ng also follows this model. A basic syslog functionality is free and open source software, and there is a commercial version that comes with closed source addons. They have a contributor agreement of course, to make it work.

Except that they have now tweaked their model as follows:

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Speaking at ProActum OpenMeetup in Helsinki, next Tuesday (about Open Core)

I will be speaking on Tuesday at the ProActum OpenMeetup in Pub Angleterre, Helsinki. (Drinks sponsored by Novell.) The title is "Open Core - What is an open source business model and what isn't? And who cares?".

A bit unusual for this kind of meetup, but I actually summarized my talk into 3 slides, which I will share as printouts with the audience.

Spectrum of open source, wannabe and closed source business models

I decided to label Open Core as a "Wannabe" business model, meaning that these products want to label themselves as open source while they are not.

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Wishing good luck to Avoin Yritys (Open Company)

I didn't intend this to become a trilogy, but today I will wish good luck to a newly started company by a friend of mine from the university: Avoin Yritys literally means "Open Company" in Finnish and they have committed to making their company as open and transparent as possible in any way. I confirmed with Antti that it is an independently developed idea, although the concept is very much similar to an idea from the Open Life book. Oh, and see also the post on Lastwear for yet another independent incarnation of the same idea.

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The rise of Maker Culture and the leadership role of O'Reilly

Inspired by my previous blog about the Lastwear open clothing company, I decided it is again time to take the pulse on how open source is spreading outside of the software world. The last time I did this was in 2008, where I concluded:

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Lastwear does open clothing, funded via

I was recently pointed to a startup called Lastwear, who has gotten their seed funding via (also a new acquaintance to me). With an eye to the topic of this blog and namesake book I wrote some years ago, this is some great news in so many ways.

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What you can do to help get rid of open core

Much has been said about open core, but with the OSI coming out squarely against it on the one hand, and Rackspace and NASA creating the project as a "true open source replacement" for Eucalyptus on the other hand, it seems open core is now much less attractive than it was only a week ago. It seems everyone has now learned what open core is and agrees that it is not open source, nor is it good for open source. (And by "everyone" I mean everyone that really are open source advocates, naturally those who directly or indirectly are trying to profit from open core will continue to promote the model for a long time to come.)

The final question that remains to be answered is, if I know about open core and don't like it, what can I do to help prevent its spreading and rather promote the adoption of true open source?

With my personal experience working for MySQL, I've had a few years to collect some ideas, and would like to share them below. Please add your own in the comments and I'll keep updating this post so it can remain a useful reference.

(Last updated Aug 29, 2010.)

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