Sunday, September 12, 2010

Business & Open Source - How both can benefit

I had the opportunity to scout for a new technology/solution for one of our in-house projects.  Quite a few of the options that I looked for were from open source arena.  And amazingly, the products were far more capable from our expectations, just that we'd have to pitch in with some effort to get it working for us.

I have always felt that for open source projects/products to become commercially viable for a business enterprise, the enterprise has to come up and spend some resources to it to get the actual value out of it.

In other words, if an organization wants to use an open source product, which has an equivalent competitive commercial product available in market, they should be open enough to have their own in-house people who can take ownership of the installation. The organization shouldn't completely rely on the support available from the community forums and such.

I have seen more than one manager complain about the lack of support on the open source products.  Had there been proper support system for each of the open source products, we'd see a lot of stories similar to mysql's model or pentaho model.

What I would like to see perhaps is that the organizations' becoming mature enough in their adaptation of the open source products. By that, I expect them to have a open vision, have people who understand and like and own the product, and at the same time tweak and tune the product to suit the organization's business needs.

In the process, the organization should contribute to the product's development cycle.  This could happen in many ways, bug fixes, contribution of new features, the employees could contribute on community forums and such.  Using the terminology from peer to peer sharing, only leechers dont help a torrent, people need to seed to it as well. Same way, unless organizations contribute to an open source product, they would stand to become only leechers.

Only after we have a decent balance of organizations using and contributing to the open source products, we'd see the ecosystem flourishing...

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