Partnerships, SaaS Are Affecting Open Source Business


Not long ago, the Open Solutions Alliance conducted its most recent commercial open source trends survey. This week, I talked with OSA president Dominic Sartorio via e-mail to get his thoughts on the results.


He said the OSA undertook the survey too gauge where the market is right now and how it has changed since last year's survey. Particularly, OSA members wanted to make sure they were concentrating on the right things. In other words, he said, "we wanted to make sure we weren't trying to solve last year's problems at the expense of this year's."


Many of the survey respondents said they have established active partnerships, both with each other and with proprietary software shops, including Microsoft. Since open source as a development method is based on collaboration, the fact that there are partnerships wasn't a surprise. But the volume of partnerships is a surprise, Sartorio said.

This is indeed validation of a concept we've been promoting, namely that the spirit of open collaboration and transparency for mutual benefit can be taken to the next level, from the realm of individual developers to the realm of commercial organizations.

And the fact that many are working with Microsoft? They're doing that because it's what customers want, according to Sartorio. He said:

Most business will adopt whatever seems to best address a business objective at the time, and sometimes that will be an open source product, sometimes not. The result is a mix of technologies that the IT staff then needs to integrate and manage. Consequently, the requirement on the vendor community to ensure this interoperability is possible.

Software-as-a-service is also affecting commercial open source, he said, because it's changing the way open source companies go to market. Here's why:

Customers don't care where their solutions come from, only that they solve their business problems and the cost of ownership is right. Moreover, mid-market especially is more likely to accept products as-is, and less likely to want to customize the code, consequently SaaS is a good fit.