The open source philosophy is based on a very simple principle: a user must be free to control every aspect of the software he or she uses.
This includes free access to source codes, i.e. the set of instructions that define the behavior of a program, as written by the author.
Since the access to source codes makes it possible to copy, modify and redistribute a software, this principle is incompatible with the traditional business model that conceive software as any other physical product, identifying its remunerative aspect with sales on a unitary basis.
Because of their different views, idiosyncrasy and a natural antagonism between the enterprise world and open communities was quiet common in the past.
Nevertheless, aside the deep differences between the cathedral and the bazaar, the open model proved successful in many fields. As a matter of fact, openness increments the general robustness of a software and open source dev communities focus more on the features enhancement, rather than marketing and commercial strategies.
However, open source doesn't mean free. It simply represents an additional chance of success for all the software projects that, to generate business, focus primarily on the added value of the maintainers' activity.
This strategy benefits those who hold the know-how and the skills needed to implement useful and quality features. In business environments, there is indeed a thriving market for the provision of support and maintenance services revolving around open technologies.
Customization and white-labeling
One of the most popular business models for open source based projects is the integration of custom modifications, to satisfy the needs of one or more clients.
Another strategy consists in rebranding or white-labeling, that is, styling the look&feel of an application with graphic elements that explicitly recall the own corporate identity, or that of other entities.
For projects licensed under GPL or equivalent, both options force the developers to publicly release the modified sources. However, it should be considered that access to source code is not useful for users without technical skills, and license obligations bind also competitors to play according the rules.
Furthermore, for end customers, openness guarantees transparency and continuity, because third parties can take over or compete at any time, increasing the value of the product offered.
Protect your IP, even if it uses contributions from the open source community
Intellectual property is what gives the exclusive right to make profit from a software product. Typically, in open source projects, the author waives this right but binds users and third parties to do the same even for derivative products.
Even though violations to this constraint are very common, once a software is tagged open source is stays "open" forever, legally speaking.
Nevertheless, it is not always required to adhere to the open source philosophy. Indeed, there are many open source solutions distributed under less restrictive licenses, that allow the direct integration in commercial projects.
Granted the full compliance with the specific license applied to open source codebases, our services include:
- Integration of custom requirements
- Rebranding and white-labeling
- Configuration and hosting of public access repositories for the modified source codes