Spencer: I think increased focus on the transition from project to product (especially through for-profit companies) will help carry open source projects from a more limited audience to the consumer markets at large. For example, Digium's focus today is not only on providing component hardware and software but on providing solutions for small businesses that are not only understood by consumers but understood by the traditional channel that reaches those consumers as well. I think that partnership between open source projects will also help improve their ability to interact with one another, thus helping innovate in the area of high integration. The power of that integration will in the long run help solidify the value proposition for enterprise customers, in particular.
Soltero:We need a better understanding of the economics behind the various business models used by open source companies. At this point, no company except Red Hat has been able to demonstrate the type of large-scale economic viability that is necessary for a software company to be able to innovate at scale while using open source. Many are trying, but we're not there yet. The reason this is important is it acts as the proof behind how a company can fund the development of product(s) that are delivered in an open source model and still stick around to realize the benefits. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, so I would not expect there to be a single recipe that everyone can follow. However, I do believe that the whole equation needs to be considered in order for this to work -- low customer acquisition cost + continuous feedback and contribution from the community + subscription value + scaled R&D. The R&D benefits are the most difficult to realize for a company like ours [Hyperic] because the audience for the product is not composed of software developers and the software is inherently complex. It's a little like operating systems such as Linux ... lots of people use them, very few know how to build them.
Creator of the Open Source Definition
Co-founder of the Open Source Initiative
Perens: Well, we really are at the next step for a lot of software development. We define the best practices in software development today. After all, how many companies have software staff that are as motivated to work for them as the open source developers are motivated to make something that everybody shares?