Question 3: Does widespread adoption and commercialization of open source software create new challenges or pressures for open source projects?
Soltero:Commercialization creates added pressures, especially for projects that are separate from the companies that provide commercial offerings around an otherwise free project. Frankly, the idea that commercial interests become involved in an OSS [open source software] project causes an allergic reaction to a lot of people. The reaction is mostly based on the idea that the commercial interests will overwhelm the decision-making process of the project. Realistically, without some amount of accountability, which comes best in the form of commercial interests, open source projects run the risk of becoming largely academic exercises that don't ship in time and have poor usability. How this accountability is applied into the project is the key factor in whether or not the commercialization will mean more success for the project or not.
Increased adoption of a project fuels the need for some level of governance and direction from the project. There's an interesting scenario in communities where tons of adoption bring way too many potentially conflicting interests, and without a proper governance structure, the project struggles because it cannot reconcile and prioritize the diverse requirements being thrown at it.
Both of these cases really don't apply to companies like ours [Hyperic] where the IP [intellectual property], the project, and the company are managed by the same entity. The community is open and works just like any other OSS project. The company is better able to balance the needs to fund and promote the community with the needs to deliver value to its customers.
Vice president of business development
Asay: It does, but I believe the very structure of open source mitigates against too much fallout from the success of open source. With all the M&A activity, for example, it's to be expected that some will jump into the market for a quick flip on their investment. But open source isn't something you can force. Community doesn't come easily, and turning adoption into paychecks also doesn't come easily. So I think we are seeing and will continue to see a bit of a gold-rush mentality in open source, but the exigencies of the open source business models will keep us from falling into the same rut that the Web 2.0 world has.