Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Commercial Open Source

While the term open source is becoming mainstream, there still is confusion regarding why some companies choose to pay their employees to work on open source projects or release some of their own products as open source. How exactly does contributing resources to something "free" help the bottom line?

This blog entry from Cleversafe compares the emerging field of dispersed storage with the open nature of the TCP/IP protocols. It also outlines their business model which includes commercial offerings as well as contributions to the open source ecosystem they established. Their model seems to be working as yesterday the Wall Street Journal awarded the company with a 2008 Innovation Award in the Software category for its innovative approach to storing and archiving digital content.

Many of the articles in the OSBR provide some insight into why companies contribute to open source. In the most recent issue, Nortel's CTO describes some of the many open source projects that receive Nortel contributions, including OLPC, Hyperconnectivity, Open802.11s, SIPfoundry, and Curriki. We'll be seeing more articles like these in the upcoming editorial themes of "Building Community" (October 2008), "Enterprise Participation" (January 2009) and "Commercialisation" (February 2009).

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