Paying for open source seems an odd idea to some people. But as Serdar Yegulalp pointed out in his InformationWeek blog, Alfresco VP and CNET News blogger Matt Asay spoke to several CTOs this week who indicated they would rather pay open source companies for proprietary additions or extensions than contribute code. Asay said:
The interesting thing was that while the CTOs looked to open source as an inexpensive means of discovering and evaluating software, all seemed to believe that adding proprietary services or software was the right way to monetize it... Every CTO that spoke up (and it was a very open forum) said that they are happy to pay for proprietary extensions to open-source software.
One of the ideas that came up during Asay's discussion of possibilities was "a feature request marketplace." Yegulalp says this idea deserves further consideration. He points out that such a marketplace could easily be built on top of existing open source marketplace systems, such as SugarExchange, where "people can sell commercial add-ons to SugarCRM."
The sticking point may not be the fact that too few companies adopt open source, but that the people who need to be involved in the process are not well-enough informed. He says:
I'm guessing the main thing isn't the breadth of adoption alone, but broader knowledge among the right people about the mechanics of an open source endeavor -- including legal departments.
I think he's right.