Open source is not all about the money

No matter what happens to Sun open source is not going away. Financially it may find its level to be lower than its boosters first thought, but there are many more ways to compute value other than the change in your pocket.

Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz
Dave Rosenberg is worried about Sun, a question discussed here last week.

"If it fails," he writes, "Sun will be the harbinger of sorrow for the rest of the open source world."

The open source business, yes. The open source world? Not so much.

Open source is a fact of life. Gartner Group estimates all large businesses will be deploying it within a year. Linux is extending its reach from the server to the client. Open source applications like Firefox are highly competitive.

On the other hand, the open source business model is not doing so well. It's not bringing in the green. When given something for free and then asked to buy support, most customers say "thanks, but no thanks" especially when times get tough.

But there is a lot more to the open source story than the vendor's perspective. There are savings for the entire economy. There is transparency. There is cooperation among companies which depend upon software to run their businesses.

Most important is the work done by the software. That work can still make money, in many ways. We have really just scratched the surface of how to do this. Support contracts are just one of many routes to profit.

You can embed open source into hardware. You can sell what the software does. You can use the software to make yourself more productive and sell your work. Many routes.

Then there is the code. When closed source businesses go under their code usually dies with them. That's not true for open source. That is very important for users and for those who follow the failed company in the market. They build from a higher base.

Or consider Sun itself. It was circling the drain when it committed to open source. Other companies in similar straits just crashed and burn, leaving a greasy mess behind. Now we have Java, Solaris, a real legacy.

No matter what happens to Sun open source is not going away. Financially it may find its level to be lower than its boosters first thought, but there are many more ways to compute value other than the change in your pocket.

Such as the change all around you.