Open source specialists offered tech support bounty

OpenLogic will pay developers to provide high-level support for scores of open source products, but not everyone is convinced by the idea

OpenLogic, an open source software and services provider, has launched a programme to offer commercial support for more than 150 open source products, including the Apache Web server, the PostgreSQL database and the Python programming language, the company announced on Monday.

The company already offers first and second-line support for these products, but plans to work with the open source community to get help with more complex issues.

Steven Grandchamp, the chief executive of OpenLogic, claimed the initiative will help companies that want to get support for multiple open source products from one provider.

"We have heard loud and clear from our larger enterprise customers, some of whom are using more than 400 open source products, that they want one throat to choke for open source support," said Grandchamp in a statement.

"OpenLogic's Expert Community programme is being launched to help address this need in a new, creative way. Enterprises get the support they require and open source committers and contributors can earn money to support the work they love to do," he said.

Developers joining the scheme will be paid for each issue they resolve, and can choose whether they want to be paid in cash or through prizes such as a Microsoft XBox console. Alternatively, they can have the money donated to an open source organisation.

James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, said the programme is an interesting idea that could encourage participation in open source communities.

"Vibrant communities are far more important to technology adoption than cool tools or technologies," he said. "Combining community efforts with getting paid can effectively act as a double-whammy incentive. 'You mean I get paid for this too? Awesome!'"

Open source service providers have often hired open source developers to provide support to customers, but OpenLogic claims to be the first company to reward community members directly for their support efforts without requiring them to switch jobs.

Simon Riggs, a developer on the open source database PostgreSQL, was not convinced by OpenLogic's proposal. Riggs claimed that it is difficult to get third-line support from the open source community in a timely manner, and that payment in game consoles was unlikely to help.

"I don't know anyone who knows anything worthwhile about third-level enterprise support who would be interested in being paid in XBoxes," said Riggs. "My view is if you want reliable support, you need to arrange that in advance from dedicated staff with dependable service level agreements. Open source communities are very good at providing basic support, but in general, trusted, timely, high-quality support isn't available when you need it from that route."

OpenLogic will not have service level agreements with community developers, but claimed that it has built-in redundancy for each project to assure timely responses.

More information on OpenLogic's Expert Community programme can be found on the company's Web site.