Atlassian: Not Open Source, Not Freeware


Gianugo Rabellino, CEO of Sourcesense, is an interesting guy who was last in the news when he inked a deal with Microsoft to support the connectivity of the OOXML and ODF ECMA/Oasis/ISO document-interchange standards via the Apache Software Foundation's POI project.


This month he is running an interesting series of blog posts on the future of software licensing as a business model. Although Sourcesense is primarily an open source software services provider, Gianugo's thinking relates to the entire software market, to all the ways you procure software, similar to what I was discussing in my post of August 20.


He begins his thought process by pointing to another Microsoft partner, Atlassian. What Gianugo admires is that Atlassian, a software tools provider, posts software pricing on its site and gives no discounts. It is able to sell worldwide via the Net despite its Australian base. Its development process is transparent so customers can raise feature requests and see what bugs have been reported online. All customers receive full source code, allowing them to customize Atlassian's products to suit their own environment.


If that sounds like Atlassian uses open source terms and conditions, it does not (although it has made side deals with Apache, Mulesource and a few others open source projects). Atlassian says it works closely with the open source software community and all Atlassian ...

products are built using open source components, many of which have been developed by Atlassian and donated back to the community.

It's not freeware either.


I wanted to see if I had to add a fifth type of revenue flow from you to suppliers to my August 20 model.


So far I think not, because what Atlassian appears to do is no different than other independent software vendors (ISVs) in terms of perpetual right to use (RTU) licenses for a fee -- except that it will release the source code the way IBM and the seven dwarfs always did before ISVs took over the market in the 1980s. Even today, Oracle posts pricing on its Web site (although it certainly gives discounts just like any other business). IBM of course participates very actively in the open source world. Through their users groups, SAP and all the other leaders actively let customers "raise feature requests and see what bugs have been reported online."


But keep an eye on Gianugo's blog; I have a sense he may be on to something.