I would like to continue the discussion of how open source makes commercial sense and how it could play in the SAP ecosystem. In this post, I’ll talk a bit of the strategies behind “commercial open source”.
By (my) definition, commercial open source is open source where a single legal (for-profit) entity owns the copyright to the software (and probably trademarks and patents, if any, as well). For more on commercial open source and how to distinguish it from professional and community open source, see here and here.
A well-known example is MySQL, the database and (former) company of the same name. MySQL owned the copyright to the database source code and would only accept outside contributions if those contributors assigned the copyright of their code to MySQL (which didn’t happen often, as far as I know). The copyright ownership allowed MySQL to apply the dual-license strategy. In this strategy, the community gets a version of the database for free under the GPL license. Commercial customers who want to pay for support get the same software under a commercial license.
Also, MySQL uses a “freemium” approach, where some commercial versions of their product are more powerful than what’s given to the community for free, i.e. clustering features etc.
Why do open source at all if you don’t take community contributions? Proponents of open source argue that you get faster adoption and a better product while keeping sales and marketing costs down.
Soo… within the SAP ecosystem, lets assume you or your company had its libraries, and lets ignore our current licenses for a bit… do you think there might be business for your company by providing those libraries, and taking a commercial open source approach? I.e. give it away for free but get paid for support by those who critically rely on your extensions?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!