Business community is the new open source trend

Groups of corporations can retain community values even with commerce driving it.

Not everything I learned at the Open World Forum in Paris focused on the European market.

One of the big headlines for me was a changing development environment, as Matthew Aslett, senior analyst for enterprise software at The 451 Group (right) revealed while offering a peak into a report due next month on “The evolution of OSS-related business strategies.”

After analyzing 300 vendors and surveying 286 large users, he found the “open core” model, projects dominated by a single vendor, giving way to a new focus on communities of businesses.

That open core model expresses vendor attempts to disrupt industries, which he called “Stage Three” for open source development. There is a vendor-owned copyright, but even if there is a strong copyleft license the vendor dominates the resulting revenue stream.

“Stage Four”, he said, is “a shift back to the bazaar development and distributed copyright, with non-copyleft licenses resulting in multiple revenue streams. “It's not about vendors contributing to the common good and forgetting about money. But there is a focus on collaboration as a way to drive their own interests.”

Mozilla, Eclipse and Apache are all examples of this process. So is OpenStack. “Everyone involved wants to generate revenue. But it's through indirect monetization, through other products and services, rather than the actual project.

“Clearly it's not the end of commercial open source. One trend doesn't replace the other. But we're seeing a shift toward permissive licensing and hybrid development. Vendors who insist on controlling projects need to shift to collaborative development. It's about open source as a foundation for complementary products or a platform for SaaS and the cloud.”

Rather than thinking of community as individuals in their pajamas coding in their parents' basements, he said, think of it as more like a business community, a Chamber of Commerce for specific functionality. “Groups of corporations can retain community values even with commerce driving it.”