February 17, 2009

I’ve run into this post recently and it  really well resonates with what I was thinking a lot recently. The Open Source as a term became used for marketing for so many companies which have nothing to do with original Open Source spirit of sharing and collaboration. What term can we use to describe the true Open Source Software which is among other things means you can use it for free for all required business functions – there is nothing you MUST pay for, there are however things you may CHOSE to pay – support consulting etc.

Note the features are not just bare bone features you need but preceived features pushed upon you by sales/marketing organization. The MySQL is  actually a great example here –  you really do not need MySQL Enterprise to run any MySQL powered business but all company messages are focused on making you to think you can’t survive a single day without it if you’re doing real business with MySQL.

The Zmanda,  InfobrightHyperric are all example of Commercial Open Source companies which will see you start purchasing software if you’re in real business.

Now do not get me wrong. I do not see anything wrong with commercial software. I also understand a lot of the Commercial Open Source companies could not have existed as purely Open Source companies… meaning Open Source community would not even have their limited OpenSource offerings. I just would like to see some consistence in naming to avoid confusion and  understand when the project is completely OpenSource or there are some commercial gotchas.

On the related note – where true OpenSource project could originate from? I think it is close to impossible to get VC funding if you’re going to give away everything and have the model of people paying you for services. True OpenSource projects should be humble and slowly growing… this is actually the case with old time MySQL which took years before they have gotten any decent web site or good looking CEO.  True Open Source project founders should be focused on making the difference more than making the money otherwise it is very hard to resist to add a bit of extra motivation for customers pay you the money. The true Open Source project may also originate from hobby/fun type of project when money is off  the table. The colaboration project like Linux Kernel or PostgreSQL  when there are a many parties making money on the customized/extended versions which allows to keep the core project clean. It also could be give away type of project sponsored by one or several companies which just use it for the business. The examples could be memcache with FaceBook and SixApart or Hadoop with Yahoo.

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