Open Source – A Business Tactic?

Posted by on November 04, 2008

A recent research report by The 451 Group indicated that:

“Open source is a business tactic, not a business model. Open source is not a market in and of itself, nor is it a vertical segment of the market. Open source is a software development and/or distribution model that is enabled by a licensing tactic.”

For this report, “the business strategies of 114 open source-related vendors, including open source specialists such as Red Hat and Alfresco, and those for which open source is used more tactically, such as IBM and Oracle” were analyzed.

It appears that “there are few vendors generating revenue from open source software that are following a pure open source approach when it comes to developing all of their code in the open and licensing all of their software under open source licenses”.

Although this offers some interesting facts, I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions of this report. It may be true that some open source vendors do utilize hybrid development or licensing models, but I don’t think it’s fair to call open source a business tactic. The fundamentals of open source haven’t changed. The report results seems like they could have been skewed by the inclusion of traditionally proprietary vendors with a few “open source” projects like IBM and Oracle.

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