Profit as Balm for Open Source

Neil McAllister in the September 4th issue of Infoworld is arguing that Open Source needs more than Eric Raymonds “opensource developers need to scratch their own itch” to make Open Source fully responsive to customers needs. And Neils solution is the profit motive. Neil cites the case of accessibility enhancements necessary in Open Office in order for it to meet Massachusets Open Software requirements. Problem, the people that have the itch, disabled and access challenged users of Open Office are less likely to be able to “scratch their own itch”. Similarly, for users of Pentahos BI software, the analysts are savvy and may even know what they want but are not likely to be able to dive into the mixture of Java, HTML, XML, and JavaScript code necessary to make changes to the BI software for their particular specialized apps.

So what Neil is proposing is profit as the balm. And almost as if on cue General Interface division of Tibco announces its BSD dual licensing of its InfoWorld award-winning AJAX development framework – General Interface 3.2. now what GI is doing is allowing developers to have the Open Source advantages – free access to both the source code and the dveloper tools, the ability to develop the from the GI tool freely, the ability to access a Open Community support site, and then a choice on how to deploy. An open solution, itself must also be open source for which there is no charge. A private solution, in which code developed is not released to the genral community must then pay a runtime license fee to GI “for going proprietary” and using their development software to do so.

Now the BSD license is certainly not new and has had several variations. It also is not embraced by people who advocate the Free Software Foundation approach to Open Source. But it has some notable proponents in the software development community including JBoss, MySQL, and Trolltech. And I would advise readers to take a look at how Actuate, Jaspersoft, and Pentaho are doing Open Source in different and innovative ways in the BI field. In short, Open Source is incorporating the profit motive very well, thank you. And the above are some interesting models for how to do it.

(c)JBSurveyer 2006

(c)JBSurveyer 2006