Is service the answer to the open source war?

The idea of selling service unites the closed source and open source worlds. Increasingly software needs the regular updates that makes selling it as a service look attractive.

At the end of his interview with  Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik today our own Dan Farber had a line that caught my eye:

Open source business models and licenses, as well as models for proprietary software, will continue to evolve. What’s more clear is that software as a service is going to continue to gain traction, and enterprises will be less concerned whether it’s proprietary or open source or hybrid code underneath. It’s about what works best at what price to solve a particular problem…

Both open source and closed source publishers regularly charge by subscription, usually for services necessary to a program's operation. Security is nearly always sold this way. Patching and updating are also behind the services trend.

I've been in touch with the folks at FireTrust, in New Zealand, about their FirstAlert! anti-spam database. (More on that later.)  You buy their proprietary MailWasher Pro package once, or download their open source MailWasher Server, but it's the $9.95/year ($2 for the server) FirstAlert! service that makes both go. And it may be that over time, it's that regular update, sold by subscription, that will make the company go, regardless of whether people are using its closed source or open source solutions.  

The idea of selling service unites the closed source and open source worlds. Increasingly software needs the regular updates that makes selling it as a service look attractive.

What do you think? Is this the way to software unity and peace? Is the idea of selling software as a service at least something we can agree on? Let us know at TalkBack.

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