James Dixon’s Blog

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

8. Summary

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The deliberate simplification of the models and diagrams above shows something important. If you reduce the workings of an open source project, a proprietary software company, and an single-vendor commercial open source
software company down to the fewest number of lines and bubbles there are fundamental differences between them.

By comparing the diagrams you see the single-vendor commercial open source model is a perfect combination of an open source project and a proprietary software company: there is nothing left out and there is nothing added.

single-vendor commercial open source = open source software project + productization process

The single-Vendor commercial open source model is a robust combination of an open source project and a software company backing that project, and a complete Productization process. Not only does the model benefit from the advantages of each there are additional benefits for all participants:

  • The open source community benefits directly from the full-time engineering staff that exist because of the fee-paying customers.
  • The customers benefit from the increased quality of the software, quality of design, and increased traction enabled by the open source community.
  • The single-vendor commercial open source company benefits by increasing its valuation when it meets the needs of both customers and open source community.
  • Out of the three open source models the single-vendor model is most effective in the areas of intellectual property and patents.

The model is powerful because the customers, partners, engineers, and open source communities are all self-motivated to behave in ways that are beneficial to themselves and, as a side effect, beneficial to all the others.

To summarize the main points of the Beekeeper model in a table:

Open Source Proprietary Commercial
Open Source
Transparency of design & implementation Higher Lower Higher
Quality of software Higher Lower Higher
Ownership of solution Higher Lower Higher
Ability to ‘try before you buy’ Higher Lower Higher
Cost of license or subscription Higher Lower Higher
Ability to customize software Higher Lower Higher
Reliability of support and training Lower Higher Higher
Reliability of roadmap Lower Higher Higher
Availability of professional services Lower Higher Higher
Availability of references/case studies Lower Higher Higher

As demonstrated by the Beekeeper diagrams and this table the Single-Vendor Commercial Open Source model, when implemented well, is an ideal combination of the methodologies, principles, and roles from open source and
proprietary software development models. By combining these models carefully the advantages of each can also be combined to produce a result that is powerful and compelling.

Open source has been described as the biggest paradigm shift in computing in the last 20 years. I hope that the information I have presented here shows the disruptive nature of open source / commercial open source is due to
the profound and fundamental differences that exist between the proprietary software development model and the open source / commercial open source models.

Commercial open source companies are a lot of fun to work at. I don’t know of anyone working in a commercial open source company today that wants to go back to a proprietary vendor. I know lots of people at proprietary vendors who would like to move out.

The single-vendor commercial open source model is sufficiently open source to be disruptive, productive, and fun. Much evidence indicates that it is commercial enough to be sustainable.

Next: More Information


Written by James

May 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm

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