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Friday Philosophy Guest: Open Source Projects January 15, 2016

Posted by amitzil in Architecture, Friday Philosophy, Guest Post, Perceptions.
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This post is Guest Post by my friend Liron Amitzi, an Oracle Ace, presenter and instructor who specialises in Oracle design & infrastructure. You can find his blog over here.  And with that, over to you Liron 🙂

 

I have been wondering about open source projects for a while. I’ve talked to quite a few people about it, and still don’t really understand some of it. So I decided to write a post about my thoughts regarding this issue.

I’m not going to talk (or even mention) specific projects, but it is very interesting to me how these projects run.

During the years I have worked with quite a lot of open source software and I like some of it a lot. I completely understand how small projects work, such as text editors, small schedulers and others. With these relatively small projects, I can easily see that someone needs such software and simply sits down and writes it (alone or in a small group). When it is ready, I can see that they want to share it with the world – and open source is perfect for that. I can even understand that they will want to update it, add features, support it a little bit, etc. Another side to it that I can see is a developer that writes software to get his reputation going in the community: in order to get a job, an interesting project or simply fame.

However, I’m quite puzzled with the big open source projects, such as databases, queue management, large monitoring systems and more. I know that behind at least some of these software products, there are actual companies that invest money and people. And I don’t really understand how it works as companies need to cover their expenses, salaries, and of course, make a profit.I know that there are many ways to make money out of open source projects. Some companies charge for support, some for education & courses, and some for professional services & consulting. However, in some cases the companies that provide these services are not related to the company that sponsored the development.

So what makes a company develop or support a development of an open source project? I can think of a couple of reasons:

  • As the software will be free and open source today is very common, it will get this software many potential customers and foothold
    After getting a foothold, the company can charge for specific features or other complementary software.
  • Business decisions can also be a cause. A company that makes a lot of money from software might decide to give some back to the community so people will “like” the company more.

Still, when it is a big software project and requires a lot of resources, I can’t see why a big company will go for open source.

  • First, they can make it a freeware without releasing the code.
  • Second, at the bottom line, they will have to make money on this somehow.

So, if they release the project as an open source but charge for education or professional services, I guess that the education and professional services will cost more, so at the end they will make the same amount (and we will pay the same amount) as with licensed software and cheaper courses and professional services.

Am I missing something?

What do you think? I’d love to know.

About Liron

Liron Amitzi and Steven Feuerstein

Liron Amitzi and Steven Feuerstein

Liron Amitzi is originally from Israel and now lives in Canada with his wife and two children. I met Liron at the UKOUG Irish User Group conference in Dublin last year and again at Oracle Open World 2015, when it struck me that he looks a lot like  Steven Feuerstein (Liron is on the left). Liron has been an Oracle ACE since 2009 and has helped run the Israel Oracle User Group since 2011. He specialises in High Availability solutions, design, infrastructure, performance and recovery. As well as presenting he is also an instructor and lecturer in Oracle course.

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Comments»

1. oraclebase - January 15, 2016

Hi.

Another take on it…

Imagine I’m making a new appliance. If I write an operating system to control it, I have to fund the whole of the development. Alternatively I can use an existing open source OS for free, but I have no influence in the development, so I have no guarantees the OS will remain fit for my purpose. Another alternative is I fund some development for the OS, maybe open source drivers and some kernel development. I maintain some influence in the OS, but don’t have to fund a whole OS.

Oracle’s investment in Linux is because they need Linux and they don’t want to be totally beholden to anyone else for an OS. I’m ignoring Solaris, as it was acquired after their Linux strategy started and is still a relatively small player on the global scene.

I think this “reduced cost” model makes alot of sense for many companies. The alternative is to do it all yourself or buy someone else’s product, both of which may cost significantly more in the long term.

Cheers

Tim…

2. My Friday Philosophy | amitzil - Oracle DBA blog - January 15, 2016

[…] To read the post click here. […]

3. amitzil - January 15, 2016

Tim,
I totally agree and actually didn’t think about that (even though it makes perfect sense).
However, it still doesn’t explain other projects. I’m not familiar with all the details and how things work, but how about Apache? PostgreSQL? Nagios? And there are other huge projects (I don’t remember their names) like enterprise scheduling systems and enterprise queue management.

4. Graham - January 17, 2016

I think an element of it may be that ultimately it makes it easier to hire resources if other companies are using the same software stacks. I believe that’s one of the main reasons that Google published white papers on their technologies.


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