James Dixon’s Blog

James Dixon’s thoughts on commercial open source and open source business intelligence

Dirk Riehle of SAP Re-Invents the Wheel

with 3 comments

Dirk Reihle of SAP has just released a piece called The Commercial Open Source Business Model. He does a good job of giving a broad overview of the various models and how different business functions are affected. He does not go into a lot of detail in any of these areas. However nearly everything he says is covered in the Beekeeper model documents, particularly Part II. So why didn’t he reference them?

He obviously spent a lot of time reading articles and talking to people. But he clearly did not spend any time reading his own blog. If he had done so he would have seen references to the Beekeeper model in the comment trails we have had over the past year.

I particularly like this quote of his:

With the exception of Olson’s work, none of the prior works focus on commercial open source, and Olson mostly addresses its intellectual property aspects. In contrast, this paper comprehensively discusses the key properties of commercial open source firms across all business functions.

In the Beekeeper Part II the effects of the commercial open source model on engineering is covered in reasonable depth for 15 pages. His analysis of the same topic is only 8 sentences. That is hardly ‘comprehensive discussion’.

I wish he’d read the Beekeeper before he started, he might have been able to build on it to create something new and original.


Written by James

May 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This very beautiful web articles like this web very well. Ask the good article to read.

    dave navarro

    May 2, 2009 at 2:47 am

  2. James, it looks like you are upset about my coverage of related work. This is a research paper, and here is how it works:

    Scientific research papers, to be recognized as such, need to go through a peer-review process. In this process, scientist peers who typically remain anonymous to you, review your paper, form an opinion on its quality, and recommend to publish or reject the paper. The paper in question made it through this process. This gives it the scientific stamp of approval commensurate with the prestige of the publishing venue, the AMCIS conference in this case.

    The hallmark of research is that it is not just an opinion, but something that other reasonable people, your scientist peers, can agree upon. That’s what the review process above tries to ensure. You typically have to prove that your work is not just an opinion but is some form of truth. That’s why most research papers have sometimes laborious evaluation and validation sections. In contrast, opinion pieces try to be interesting and engaging to readers, but are not considered research as long as they haven’t passed peer review. Scientific procedure makes papers boring but is necessary.

    Scientists need to demonstrate that what they are presenting is somehow novel in comparison to what came before. Thus papers have a prior and related work section. What’s relevant for that section is work that was published after it went through peer review and thus is considered scientific research work. Opinion pieces, as well worked out as some may be, are usually not part of such related work discussion. My paper reviews some in the related work section, like Bruce Perens’ work, but that’s only because the anonymous reviewers complained that I should be covering it. This doesn’t imply non-peer-reviewed work can’t be discussed, but it is less common and not required.

    The blogosphere is full of theories on how commercial open source works, and trying to cover that would have blown the 5000 word limit on the paper without me ever getting to what I wanted to say in the first place. I had read your Beekeeper model paper a while back but it did not resurface in my mind when writing this paper. I would love to hear how I could use it as primary material to validate, for example, the value of community for product management or the percentage-wise shift in sales and marketing to research and development expenses. I’ll be happy to revisit your paper for this.

    I hope this explanation helps explain some of the mechanics and decisions around scientific writing and publishing.


    Dirk Riehle

    May 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

  3. Hi Dirk,

    Thank you for your post.

    You include statements like ‘According to Jacob’ and ‘Augustin estimates’ and many other ‘facts’ culled from blogs and OSBC presentations. I know Jacob, Asay, and Augustin personally, and they are evolving this model as they go along with everyone else. They also freely share their opinions on how to execute and improve the model. Your paper is an aggregation of other people’s opinions. You seem to think that a scientific paper that aggregates opinions is better than the original opinions.

    Thank you also for the explaination of the process. If I understand you correctly my work – which took 2 years of observation before I even started it and includes feedback from over 30 professionals in commercial open source and acedemia – cannot be counted as prior work, because I elected to use an open feedback process instead of a closed one, and thus it is only ‘opinion’.

    It brings us to an interesting topic. You identify how important peer review is in the process, yet your paper fails to mention how important peer review is in commercial open source. The scientific peer review process is ‘closed’, you only get feedback from a selected audience. Peer review in open source is unlimited.

    Take my Beekeeper work. I got some initial feedback from people that I know and included their comments into the piece. However the best feedback I got was from people that I did not know, and I only got this feedback because of the open nature of the process. These people include:

    Roberto Galoppini, open source consultant
    Matt Aslett, 451 Group
    Tarus Balog, Open NMS
    Paul Ramsey, The Open Planning Project
    David Dennis, GroundWork Open Source
    Michael Grove, CollabWorks
    Margaret Rouse, IT Knowledge Exchange
    Martin Michlmayr, foss bazaar
    Bernard Golden, author and CEO of Navica
    Dick Selwood, Embedded Technology Journal
    Wynn et al, University of Dayton
    Mark Hinkle, Socialized Software
    Martin P, Inflection Technologies
    Chris Katz et al, Tufts University
    Dr Pretra Malik, Victoria University of Wellington

    The scientific community has had the opportunity to use the internet to improve the openness of the peer review process for a long time but has not done so. Why is that?



    May 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

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