Open Source Business Strategy: OpenERP and Long Term Sustainability

Matt Asay says that creating an open-source software able to attract significant outside development contributions is difficult, yet important. Quid pro quo paradigms, as Stephane Croisier calls them, can foster more sustainable open source communities. Both Jahia and OpenERP found their way to foster external participations.

Jahia through an enterprise contribution program promotes giving back to the Jahia Community, OpenERP has a different approach to motivate enterprises’ and partners’ contributions.

Customers and partners deserve benefits if they contribute to project’s success, but double licensing – as Jahia does – is not the only way to go.

OpenERP provides different incentives to customers and partners, as his CEO Fabien Pinckaers explains. OpenERP Shared Funding Development allows to request and pre-finance new features, once the development costs are paid the module is published under the GPL license. Customers can also get custom modules certified by OpenERP quality team. Partners benefit from customers’ requests becoming more visible, because certification of custom modules allow them to scale from starter partner to silver or gold.

Pinckaers started alone 4 years ago, now Open ERP employs 85 people, has a partner network counting 35 different countries, more than 350 modules and without any fund raising keeps growing.

The software sustainability initiative was aimed to combine the best of open source and proprietary world, something at which Day software seems really good at, as Croisiers points out.

To prevent vendor lock in open source projects should rely on a number of software vendors, but what if an open source project is backed by a single vendor?

Is organic grow more sustainable than a VC backed one?