The creators of the software get together with some business types.They put out a shingle, they sell support to what they wrote. They succeed or they fail.
But sometimes a project comes along that is so wildly popular everyone and his Aunt Sally wants a piece of the action.
That seems to be the case with Apache Hadoop, the Java framework for distributed applications inspired by Google, created by Doug Cutting, built by Yahoo and now seen as the basis for most cloud computing.
The Hadoop ecosystem now includes a half-dozen commercial Hadoop implementers, as well as boosters, hangers-on, supporters, and skeptics who wonder whether there is a commercial market here at all.
Then there's the Amazon cloud, IBM, and Yahoo, all depending on Hadoop as the heart of their cloud strategies. And Google. And so on.
Enterprises see clouds as replacements for mainframes and server farms, so there is a real market here. But is the market big enough to allow for all this diversity, or is a shakeout overdue?
I don't have a clear answer to that.
Hadoop is a key ingredient in every enterprise strategy I've seen this year. It's becoming a sort of Linux for the cloud, a lingua franca the whole industry is moving toward. If Hadoop is shaking out the whole industry is.
On the other hand how many start-ups can an open source project support, really?