Spencer: First, it is important to recognize the opportunity from the commercialization of open source software. Originally, there were just plain-old open source projects. Then people realized that by pairing open source projects with nonprofit organizations -- such as the Apache Foundation -- certain benefits could be achieved through improved leadership, direction, and an entity that could act to represent the interests of the users of the technology. Digium is a company on the forefront of what I believe to be the next logical step. By pairing an open source project with a for-profit company, there exists an opportunity for the company to provide promotion and marketing, product qualification and formalized testing, documentation, industry certification, and many other benefits that are harder for nonprofits or, certainly, isolated projects on their own. At Digium, for example, the largest single group in engineering is the group that develops for open source Asterisk. Most nonprofits would dream to be able to provide more than a dozen paid developers working full time on open source. Even with this benefit, however, there are people who tend to think of a battle between open source and commercial interests, and there is a challenge in bringing those people around to see how a properly built company can act as a steward for an open source project in a way that benefits the community even more than a nonprofit can.
Further, there are challenges that exist because there are companies who simply use the open source code without actually contributing back to the community in any way. While this is sometimes legally permissible, it is of course detrimental to the project, especially when those kinds of companies compete with companies who are spending resources on improving the core technology. While the community close to the project clearly understands this distinction, it is generally lost on the consumer population at large, and I think educating the consumer on the importance of supporting "real" open source companies will be important to giving this model its greatest effectiveness.
CEO and co-founder
Rosenberg: Open source “projects” have a much greater possibility of turning into “products” now that enterprises have accepted open source as part of the core infrastructure, and because venture capital firms have been actively funding open source companies.
These do add pressure but also create more opportunity. And since there are now several successful open source business models to look toward, commercialization is becoming much easier.
Creator of the Open Source Definition
Co-founder of the Open Source Initiative