Revisiting Open Source Business Models


For nearly 20 years I was involved in an open source network monitoring project called OpenNMS. I built a commercial business around it and we explored pretty much every possible business model available to us at the time, starting with support and services and moving up to a subscription model similar to Red Hat. We were eager to both build a sustainable business while remaining 100% open source, and that closed off some options such as "open core" where part of the project was published under a proprietary license.

Over the past decade the explosion in cloud computing has opened up many more options for open source businesses. Open source solutions are powerful and complex and organizations are willing to pay for experts to manage it while retaining the option to host the application themselves should the need arise. This gives open source projects a solid, scalable source of revenue without having to resort to proprietary or "source available" licenses.

There is also a trend called "ratchet source" where projects initially publish their software under a permissive license but once it reaches a certain level of adoption they change it to another license to generate revenue. This presentation will discuss ways to identify projects that may do this and options for mitigating a license change.

Overall the business environment has never been better for commercial open source which can benefit everyone in the open source ecosystem.

Ballroom B
Saturday, March 11, 2023 - 11:30 to 12:30