GNU Economy: the franchising model

Getting back to customer and vendor perspectives we might better describe the OSS market in term of offer and demand, as shortly described in the table below.

Customer Perspective
The Customer demands for ..a possible fine answer
Buyable business services fixed-time/fixed-price services
Multiple vendor support Retention by SLA
Enterprise Level Support “Pyramidal” approach
Technological certainty Continuous support
Indemnification IP Coverage
Hardware/Software compliance Stack Assurance
Vendor Perspective
The Vendor wants The impact
Partiecipating to tech clubs Driving standards
Savings by efficiency Community building
Branding OS Alliances
Tracking production Forging inside
Appropriating returns Franchising

Large to Medium customers look for enterprise level vendors, but vendors independently of their dimension can not offer personalization or integration of hundreds of OSS. A pyramidal approach (mediation) is needed to deliver value added services on a large number of platforms/programs.

Uncertainty, due to scarce integration of OSS stacks, might be overrun by dependability and benchmarking services, in order to assure that the whole software environment works properly and performs.

Hardware and software compatibility is an issue too.

Mitigating Intellectual Property risks, in terms of copyright or patent infringements, might be interesting for large enterprise, since they might be sued as happened in the SCO case.

Vendors having symbiotic approach to OS Communities, know that sharing a standard, in terms of formats, protocols or a code base, requires active participation to body standard or to product roadmap definition: thread off between costs and benefits it’s strongly related to market positioning and other environmental considerations.

Reducing software production costs is feasible if there are large amounts of volunteers and/or if the Author has a well-defined partnership program to motivate participation.

Branding OSS is costly and is not clear how to appropriate returns from marketing commons, therefore alliances sounds the most effective way to brand OS products sharing costs and benefits.

Tracking software production is feasible if and only if the vendor is forging within its organisation, again vendor need to be the software’s author.

There are just two ways to make money from OSS, named “best code here” and “best knowledge here” approaches, but none of them scale very well, unless you know how:

  • to become the market leader;
  • to save money through cooperative software development.

But appropriating returns is always critical and Franchising might be a good idea, at least for one of you..