There's an assumption that if you're big enough to require remote support for your users, you're big enough to step up and write the fat check.
The EchoGent software is offered via a variation of the BSD license so it can be integrated with closed source packages, Best said. (A complete whitepaper on the system is available through ZDNet.) Since its initial release last spring the company has secured 100 paid customers, mainly through word of mouth (and word of mouse), Best said.
"Most of the people we’re talking to want to provide remote support for small businesses. They’re looking for low-cost software that doesn’t require monthly subscription fees. That’s what we give them. You register the code and it’s yours to own."
There are advantages to large customers in this approach as well, he said. "Our customers don’t rely on our continued existance to provide their service. There are many remote systems that use an intermediary server. You’re expecting that vendor to continue to exist. With our software there’s no intermediary – the support provider can bring the full solution to bear."
As with many small open source projects, Echogent was built by a small team, headed by Best. "I did the top level design. We had one main guy here work on it, and a couple of other contractors. We’re pretty small."
If Best's name is familiar, it should be. He has multiple patents in high performance circuits and computer systems, and is a frequent contributor to such projects as Kaboodle, LEAF and VNC.