If you are building a new product or service, surely Open Source software will play a role in your business at some point, whether with less or more involvement. Many business owners and product managers still struggle and debate how to build a successful business using Open Source software.
According to John Mark Walker (Open Source Ecosystems Manager on the Open Source and Standards team at Red Hat), the big secret of a successful Open Source business "goes way beyond code." "To get a certified, predictable, manageable product that just works it takes a lot more effort than just writing a good code.", comments.
Creating an Open Source business requires a solid understanding of open source business models and management skills, coupled with expertise to leverage open product development.
In an ebook called "Building a Business on Open Souce"Launched by the Linux Foundation in association with Walker, you can learn what it takes to learn how to create and manage a Linux – based product or service or open source software.
The Open Source Model Value
As the Open Source model has become more prevalent, it has changed the way products are developed. Walker describes the unique challenges that exist in developing such a product, raising important issues to consider when adopting Open Source software, including issues of sustainability, accountability, and monetization.
Walker comments that Red Hat remains the only company that has been successful with a business model based purely on Open Source software. Many companies today work and pursue a similar model where Open Source software becomes the commercial medium, but there are other models around "Open Source", including one where the open source service core but satellite tools are not only . This is called the hybrid (and obviously sustainable) service model that mixes open source code with proprietary components, including support.
Even with several potentially "successful" initiatives, one can still discuss the difference between open and hybrid business models, yet, according to Walker, both still have one problem in common: Often (in both cases) companies assume that there is no intrinsic value in the platform itself when there is.
"If you start with the premise that open source platforms have a great value and you sell that value in the form of a certified software product, this is just a starting point. The key you are selling is a certified version of an open source platform and from then on it is up to you how to structure your product approach. "comments Walker.
What is now emerging is a "new open platform model" in which the open source platform itself is sold in the form of a certified product. It may include proprietary add-ons, but derives most of their value from the original platform.
I need to think about the selling process differently
Building a business purely around an Open Source platform requires new thinking and a new selling process. It's hard to turn the code that is available to everyone (usually for free) into a product that works and can be used on a business scale.
Linux-based systems and Open Source software are normally distributed free of charge, which makes companies improve their services and offer more complete and complex ecosystems to reach customers, thereby improving products. "For the same price as the apple, you can get an apple and a knife to peel the apple."
It may seem easy to get some free source code, package it and create a product from it. But in reality it's a very challenging job, yet if you do it right, an open code approach offers immense unparalleled benefits.
I recommend downloading the Linux Foundation and Walker eBook. In-depth methodologies and processes will help companies, business managers and developers adopt best practices for creating valuable open source products.
See you next time!