Is commercial first a fair compromise

If your software can progress with help from a fraction of your installed base, and your internal resources, I see this as a fair compromise.

Opsera has a new version of its Opsview open source enterprise management package out, Version 3.6 Enterprise Edition.

If you use the links you will find a mistake in the sentence above. Enterprise Edition is only available to those who pay for support. You freeloaders, however, can still get Version 3.5.2 Community Edition, a perfectly fine little package I understand.

Customers who pay for support get access to source code, as do community members, of course.

The question I want to ask today is, is this a fair compromise?

Not for customers. For Opsera.

For customers it's free software. There's no doubt about the value for customers.

Version 3.5.2 Community Edition is a free lunch. Download it and benefit. This is the same software that won the prizes at last year's LinuxWorld. It monitors all operating systems, and comes with the heritage of Nagios behind it, which has been evolving since 2003.

But enterprises, who pay for support, are going to be working within a limited community. They, and the folks at Opsera, are the only people around who can do current bug reports, and fixes, on Version 3.6. It's not going to be as bulletproof as the community edition.

You're going to be paying to make it so.

This is the dilemma facing every corporate-funded open source project. The sponsor needs income. Giving away the whole store means only a few will be converted. In hard times, like these, conversion rates suffer. There may not be enough coming in the door to keep the door open.

Still, you're asking your very best supporters to take a risk similar to what closed-source customers take, in paying for support first, then getting the code.

My own view is that the answer depends on where the help is coming from. If your software can progress with help from a fraction of your installed base, and your internal resources, I see this as a fair compromise. This seems to be the case with Opsview.

But my point is your mileage will vary. Community support, and the need for community input, need to be evaluated against the needs of any open source enterprise. Both succeed or both fail, together.

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