January 2011

From the Editor-in-Chief

The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is The Business of Open Source. I am pleased to welcome as Guest Editor, Michael Weiss, Associate Professor in the Technology Innovation Management program at Carleton University.

We encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors.

The editorial theme for the upcoming February 2011 issue of the OSBR is Recent Research and submissions will be accepted up to January 15th.

For the March issue, we have invited authors from the Research Forum to Understand Business in Knowledge Society to contribute to a special issue on Co-creation. The Guest Editors will be Stoyan Tanev from the University of Southern Denmark and Marko Seppä from the University of Jyväskylä.

For subsequent issues, we welcome general submissions on the topic of open source business or the growth of early-stage technology companies. Please contact me if you are interested in submitting an article.

Chris McPhee


From the Guest Editor

An open source business is a business centered around an open source offer. Companies can engage with open source projects in different ways: they can release code as open source and hope to increase the adoption of their solution; they can contribute to community-initiated open source projects and leverage the solutions the community develops; they can offer complementary services and products that add value to an open source product; and they can reduce the cost and risk of product development by pooling their non-core efforts with other companies.

This issue contains six articles. The first two articles discuss cost reduction through open source, and best practices for multi-vendor open source communities. The remaining articles were contributed by graduate students in a class on Open Source Business in the Technology Innovation Management program at Carleton University in Ottawa. This course explored why companies participate in open source projects, how companies manage communities around their open source offers, and how companies make money from the open source projects they initiated or contribute to.

Mark VonFange, Professional Services Manager at iXsystems, and Dru Lavigne, Director of Community Development for the PC-BSD Project, provide evidence of the increasing use of open source solutions in enterprise IT infrastructures. With its advancements in availability, usability, functionality, choice, and power, free/libre open source software (F/LOSS) provides a cost-effective means for the modern enterprise to streamline its operations. The article quantifies the benefits associated with the use of open source software.

Ian Skerrett, Director of Marketing at the Eclipse Foundation, identifies five best practices for multi-vendor open source communities. Multi-vendor open source communities such as Eclipse, Apache, or Linux enable companies to lower development costs and gain access to wider addressable markets. The article also discusses the importance of foundations in implementing multi-vendor open source communities.

Michael Ayukawa, Mohammed Al-Sanabani, and Adefemi Debo-Omidoku explore the relationship between companies and open source communities. The article identifies the ways in which companies can participate in open source communities and how they can benefit from engaging with the community. It also asks how open a company should be.

Ali Kousari and Chris Henselmans weigh the benefits and risks of companies moving from a private to a private-collective innovation model. In this model, a company collaborates with other companies by making its project public and, in turn, may benefit from higher-quality, decreased time to market, and maximized revenue.

Robert Poole discusses how companies that rely on open source may fear losing control over the execution of their product development strategy. Understanding the mechanisms of control inherent in open source projects and the benefits of hybrid approaches helps companies articulate those fears and make appropriate strategic decisions to match their business objectives.

John Schreuders, Arthur Low, Kenneth Esprit, and Nerva Joachim present Nokia’s Qt product (initially developed by Trolltech) as an example of a hybrid business model. They illustrate how the hybrid approach was implemented and the extent to which the approach has been effective for Nokia. The Qt story illustrates how F/LOSS business models were developed during a period when participants were just beginning to understand how to make money with open source.

Michael Weiss

Guest Editor

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