Home > ISV, Open Source, Software Development > Open Source doesn't work (for your typical ISV)

Open Source doesn't work (for your typical ISV)

Can youfeel the flamethrowers warming up?
🙂
Larry O’Brien pointed me to this great SDTimes article “The Changing Face of Open Source”. In the article, Andrew Binstock discusses the
challenges in coming up to speed with a complex codebase and contributing real
value as a ‘volunteer’. He discusses how large projects tend to be
primarily driven by commercial developers andconcludes thatthe
economics ultimately comes back to the same model as traditional closed source
software.

We have released various of
our internal APIs as open source in the last couple of a years and have made
exactly $0 in direct revenue. There have certainly been
benefitsthrough companyrecognition for some of these projects
(especially
Thycotic.RemoteScripting which has
savedseveral developerbutts when porting a classic ASP application
to ASP.NET -we have also received kind words of appreciation for
Thycotic.Data at user group meetings in the past
and from random individuals on the internet). Sure you say … but what
was your business model? How did you expect to make money?

It all started withthe buzz of companies such
as Netscape open sourcing their product and how it would take over the world
(FireFox anyone?).We had just finishedreading
the same bookthat convincedNetscape toopen
sourceMozilla
and were dreaming
ofagrowing customer base andhow a new revenue stream
couldbe added from support contracts. We learned over time that
people don’tpay for something when they can have it for free – and
unfortunately developers only want support as long as it is free. The
quickest way to reduce our support calls to zero is to point people towards our
support contract order form. 🙂

Looking back, was it worth open sourcing
these APIs? The community recognition waswonderful but itis
hard to assign adollar value. One thing that was a great success was
the number of bug reports and bug fixes we received. Developers were using
the APIs and did much of our testing for us on various platforms and
found/solved many problems. This seems to fall in line with Andrew’s
findings. However the support model did not work as a revenue stream.

Will we release future APIs as open
source? Yes, if we can adapt the model to generate revenue or if bug fixes
and greater stability are sufficient benefits. Time will
tell.

Jonathan Cogley isthe CEO and founder of
thycotic, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC. thycotic has
just released
Thycotic Secret Server which is a secure web-based solution to both “Where is my Hotmail
password?” and “Who has the password for our domain name?”. Secret Server
isthe leader in secret management and sharing within companies and
teams.

  1. Spiridon
    September 5, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Nice…

  2. Ivan
    September 26, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Nice

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