Business development: the Covalent marketing approach

Last week at the Open Source Accademy event I attended Mark Brewer‘s (Covalent‘s CEO) speech. I learn more about Covalent’s business, mostly related to deliver commercial support for Apache, Axis, Geronimo and Tomcat.

About open source adoption Brewer reported results from a Forrester Research survey, showing a strong interest of European firms, where about 40% of interviewed firms are already using it, mostly for Web server and Server Operative System areas (seen on another survey).

Benefits of Open Source reported by Brewer regard lower acquisition costs, as stated by the latter survey, reporting an average of 72% of European firms interviewed claiming lower TCO and acquisition costs as the key advantages over proprietary software. Brewer reported that no license negotiation is required for acquiring OSS, but since corporate lawyers are not familiar with OS licenses they need to manage the risk of Open Source license. How? Buying legal services from specialized firms like Palamida or Black Duck, in order to identify potential legal liabilities.

Getting back to advantages, Brewer highlighted how vendor independence turns into more freedom of choice, allowing firms to access source code and fix/enhance it by themselves, without involving the vendor. On the other hand he reported lack of knowledge and skills as risk factors in adopting OSS, adding that proprietary vendors deliver inconsistent support for OS solutions; limited support resources and uncertain OS project viability complete his picture. Mitigating such risks requires, as explained in his slide-show, work with appropriate vendors, hire or contract expertise for development, integration or deployment, choose commercial distribution of OS software to obtain indemnification and fully tested and certified solutions.

I believe Fortune 500 Companies can follow his line, but in Europe, and especially in Italy, the market is made by SMEs. I doubt CIOs are willing to spend time and money to know which OS products are mature, then looking around searching for appropriate vendors, pay money to get legal advices and only then, eventually, get things done.

Technorati Tags: Covalent, Commercial Open Source, Palamida, Blackduck