Open Source Ecosystems: some considerations

Channel ecosystems and the way vendors and Commercial Open Source vendors treat them were recently commented by Vinnie Mirchandani, Dana Blankenhotrn and eventually Alex Fletcher. I wish to add some considerations, bringing also Open Source Franchising in the picture.

Let’s start talking about VARs’ importance, I agree with Dana reporting:

Whether the SugarCRM license conforms to the OSI standard is not important, Whitehead said. Affordability is all. License gotchas don’t matter as much as the small business’ relationship with their reseller. 

Whitehead concludes that to succeed in the mass business market, open source companies need to keep Value Added Resellers (VARs) happy. Make a long reach toward VARs and your project can crack this market.

As results also from the interview to Juergen Geck, firms like Open-Xchange are addressing market needs with two different solutions: a customizable platform for who needs integration through VARs, and a turn key solution to sell through Resellers and Distribution channels.

Alex Fletcher talking about Open Source Firms added:

Operating a successful commercial open source software operation requires maintaining the delicate balance between enabling the free user and flat out making money.[..]
The point being, traditional forms of partner engagement tend to not scale well with the current realities of open source software.

As I already have observed I see space for growing in computer services franchise arena, but before talking about that, I think it is important to stress once more that there are just two ways to make money from OSS: “best code here” and “best knowledge here”, tertium non datur. Vendors willing to empower their channel need to think about it, and arrange training programs and marketing plans able to massively deliver fixed-time, fixed-price and standard quality through their partners.

Open Source Franchising strengths, in terms of vendors’, customers’ and partners’ goals and perspectives, are worth to be analyzed and might be applied to other vendors besides Sun.
If you didn’t like the barber’s shop analogy, have a look at this enlightening post talking about Packaged (Productized) Services in a Hospital by Michael Krigsman, and wonder:

In reassessing how they perform bypass surgery, Geisinger doctors identified 40 essential steps. Then they devised procedures to ensure the steps would always be followed, regardless of which surgeon or which one of its three hospitals was involved.

Next time a services vendor says your project is too complex to define a fixed price, ask whether it’s more complex than heart bypass surgery. If packaged services can successfully be applied to surgery, they can be applied to enterprise software implementations.

I totally agree with Michael, it can be done, it must be done.

Technorati Tags: Open Source Franchising, Open Source Strategies, AlexFletcher, DanaBlankenhorn, MichaelKrigsman, ecosystems