by JT Smith, president, Plain Black Corp.

The Business of Open Source

Oct 17, 20073 mins
Open Source

As open source grows, many struggle as non-profits. This three-part series by JT Smith explores the business of maintaining open-source projects and the businesses that grow out of them.

The open-source community gained momentum and support during the nineties thanks to the mainstreaming of the Internet and the support of organizations such as the Open-Source Initiative. Along with the growth of open source have come new strategies to sustain the projects and their communities. In an economically driven society, many open-source projects are struggling to maintain their purely nonprofit existence. Numerous solutions have been presented, with some open-source projects evolving into products and others building businesses related to the open-source project to help provide people power and funding. This three-part series, “The Business of Open Source,” explores the business of maintaining open-source projects and the businesses that grow out of them.

The Business of Open Source

The Business of Open Source

Open Source: Making Success Your Biggest Problem

Open Source: Step Back for Progress

Open Source vs. Business

Article one, “Open Source: Making Success Your Biggest Problem,” discusses how the pursuit of success isn’t always as smooth as some expect. For many, success is elusive, and they find that what they thought they’d achieved is overshadowed by a new set of dilemmas. The article highlights some of the common difficulties faced in establishing an open-source project, the business that might grow out of it and offers some advice for beginners.

Article two, “Open Source: Step Back for Progress,” encourages project and business leaders to recognize the need to occasionally take a step back to facilitate change and progress for overall improvement. While people are naturally resistant to change, eventually everyone needs to make accommodations to allow progress to occur. This article provides steps that can be taken to avoid some of the frustrations many associate with change to make the evolution of a project and a business a smoother process.

Article three, “Open Source vs. Business,” tackles the age-old question of whether profitable businesses and open source can peacefully coexist. Many criticize the practice of developing parent companies to help support open-source projects, saying that paid services belittle the efforts of the open source community to facilitate free and open sharing of source code. While the integrity of open source must be maintained, the practice of establishing open-source-related businesses to help support projects is growing. This article asserts that the two can exist peacefully and benefit from one another in the process.

JT Smith is a renowned open source guru and the president of Plain Black Corp., the developer and distributor of the WebGUI Content Engine. He speaks internationally on topics related to Web content management.