The thing I worry most about, however, is related to my prior point and involves attempts to shortcut open source. Many see it as a mere marketing gimmick. They provide a certain amount of open source code as a teaser to get someone to buy into the "real" version of their software. This diminishes the value of open source for customers and, in my experience, is the product of too little confidence in the open source model. I don't want customers to come to believe that open source is a new vendor-delivered parlor trick and lose interest.
Vice president of products
Urlocker: There are projects and there are companies. Commercial growth is not everyone's top priority. Apache is hugely popular even though no one makes money off it. But I think there's greater awareness that you can build a business with open source today. That wasn't clear five or 10 years ago. Companies like Red Hat, Sun, IBM, make hundreds of millions in revenue due to open source software.
But you need to be clear if what you're doing is commercial or just a project. And if it's commercial, you need a business model that delivers value to paying customers. In effect, there are two classes of users in open source, and both are markets to pay attention to. There are your nonpaying community users and paying corporate customers. And you need to serve the needs of both groups at the same time. If you are not commercial enough, you end up like Apache. If you are not community-oriented enough, you'll never get the adoption and scale that works. Adoption must come first before there's an opportunity to commercialize. It's not easy to do this, but if you do it right, it works out well for both audiences.
Founder and CTO