Its sometimes difficult to understand how open source (i.e. community driven) software and commercial operations can co-exist. Yesterday’s XenSource presentation gave me a great example of how the model works:
- The open source Xen project provides code which generally falls under three categories:
- Stable and tested
- Not tested
- XenSource (the commercial company) takes the stable and tested elements of the solution and combines these with proprietary elements to produce a commercial product. It also contributes code to the open source project along with bug fixes.
- XenSource has the resources to provide enterprise-level quality assurance and testing, including manual and automated regression testing, optimisations and beta test programmes. These contribute further fixes for inclusion in the product(s).
- The result is a commercial product (in this case three products) which promote open source software development at the same time as providing a revenue stream for ongoing product development.
My last question to ask is “what about the community developers who devoted their time to the project?” – it would be interesting to hear how those who contribute code that then makes profit for faceless shareholders feel but I suspect they derive their benefits in a far more altruistic manner:
- A feeling of community and pride in having contributed to a widely-deployed software product.
- Access to source code in order to develop and extend the community versions of the product.
- In the case of the project founders and leaders, financial recognition through their involvement in the commercial company.