Open Source and its community-based development model is starting to give some in the commercial world a bit of a headache. You’ll remember that I’ve blogged about the fact that I think all software development will go the OS-type way in future and it seems this is happening already. We’ve already seen behemoths like Microsoft change their documentation and community practices based on this ( Microsoft now has quite a few projects on software forges like Sourceforge ).
Note that I’m not indicating that products will all be free in terms of cost some day. There’s a big difference in the development model of software and whether it has a cost attached or not. Ultimately though, the OS nature of things will permeate the way software is sold. Red hat, for example, is doing very good commercial business ( against industry heavyweights like BEA, Orcale and others ) as a result of its purchase of JBoss, all of which is based on an Open Source dev model. Yes, the basic software is ‘free’, and by the way, if you need professional support, we’ve got this contract that will put you in touch with support, systems design and implementation. Around the clock. Anywhere in the world.
Many have complained specifically about how OS spans the divide between free and commercial software. I believe the model works by providing ‘free’ ( as in cost ) products to all with professional services waiting in the wings if you need it. Both OpenSuse and Fedora are reasonable examples of this methodology. They may not be perfect but for most of us, they provide an OS, Application and development platform, while providing enterprise level software in the form of products like RHEL, SLES and JBoss. Everyone wins.