Some time ago I was asked to do a study of our most popular open source projects to assess 1) what governance models are out there and 2) if the governance model has any effect on the project's success (such as size of developer community) on the one hand and on the other hand on the business of the related vendor(s). Some of the results are quite remarkable and have general applicability, so I wanted to share them here:
(Small updates done on 2011-07-14. OpenJDK size clarified on 2012-05-21.)
On Saturday I wrote a review about 451 Groups excellent report on commercial adoption of open source, "Control and Community". There was one more thought inspired by the report I thought I'd better blog separately as it is kind of R-rated:
"Continuing to maintain the right balance of functionality between the freely downloadable open core and the commercial extensions is both art and science. It's critical to get that right so the model continues to grow and advance."
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:
Last week I announced internally that after my paternity leave ends next year, I will not be returning to Monty Program.
When I joined the company over a year ago I was immediately involved in drafting a project plan for the Open Database Alliance and its relation to MariaDB. We wanted to imitate the model of the Linux Foundation and Linux project, where the MariaDB project would be hosted by a non-profit organization where multiple vendors would collaborate and contribute. We wanted MariaDB to be a true community project, like most successful open source projects are - such as all other parts of the LAMP stack.
Links for today:
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.”
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:
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.
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.
One of many things I really enjoyed working as a Sales Engineer back at MySQL Ab and Sun was that I was paid full time to encourage companies to use open source for their database layer. While Linux has already become the norm for the operating system on servers, and open source alternatives exist for app servers, it wasn't until a few years ago we really started seeing major traction of that in the database layer. And I was happy to be a small part of it!
I'm not really a salesy person. I mean I'm good at evangelizing something I believe in, addressing customer business needs and such. But you couldn't get me to lift a finger just to meet a quota, if I didn't really believe in the product. Which is what good sales guys can do. (Also known as "selling what you have in the truck".)
But thinking back at my time selling MySQL, I felt it was a great privilege to be paid a salary to travel to companies around Europe and spend a day with them explaining how and why to migrate from a proprietary database they had standardized on, to MySQL. And btw, we always met our quota too.