Marc Fleury, CEO of JBoss, send me an e-mail regarding my post "Commercial open source, a misonomer?." JBoss develops open source enterprise middleware, and uses the GNU Lesser General Public License.
Per your article, with top-down, VC-created open source companies, I think the issue people are still waiting to see play out is whether or not money and the use of open source as a distribution and marketing mechanism can create viable communities similar to grass-roots, bottom-up open source communities. In the case of JBoss, our roots are community-based and we grew bottom-up (VC investment did not come until we had a viable community, product, customers and profitable company).
However, despite our different backgrounds and the fact we have made a conscious choice at JBoss to eschew the "entry-level OS/enterprise-level commercial product" business model in favor of the pure-play Professional Open Source business model (we only sell services), I have to agree with Sugar CRM’s CEO’s statement (which echoes the better known Bill Gates rant of 1976): "Software costs money to develop."
My own take on the challenges of navigating the choppy waters between the expectations/perceptions of the open source community and the reality of sustaining the kind of software and services that professional IT management can be comfortable signing off on is provided in the following blog entry.
One of the key points in Fleury's blog post is that developers are not a commodity. Whether the software is free or not, development is not free.
Also the reality of Enterprise IT FOSS [Free and Open Source Software] software is that most of the core development is done by a handful of people, the top 5% of the development ranks. I ***LOVE*** THESE PEOPLE, I WANT THESE PEOPLE TO GET FULL TIME COMPENSATION AND A NICE UPSIDE AS WELL. They need to be full-time paid professionals, these are the guys we hire at JBoss. They may work for a Professional Open Source company like JBoss or MySQL, first-generation OS packager like Red Hat, or their work may be subsidized by academia, governments or corporations in the loss-leader open source model practiced by companies like IBM, but the point is that somebody is paying the bills; there is no free lunch.