posted by Andrew Hudson on Tue 28th Feb 2006 09:55 UTC
IconAfter many years of slow and steady growth, open source software (OSS) has begun to make an impact on corporate culture. Online forums abound with discussions about how open source projects are changing the way businesses use software. Venture capital companies now look for open source projects to invest in and larger IT companies like IBM and Sun Microsystems are turning to open source to gain a competitive edge. OSS is a fast-growing influence and yet the topic of how business affects OSS companies has been rarely studied.

Executive Summary

This report provides one of the few original studies on how business influences affect the development of companies that choose an open source business model. It is an objective attempt to compare, measure, and contrast business issues particular to OSS database companies. By determining the core influences of companies doing business completely in the OSS database realm it should be possible to isolate these factors and understand how they apply to other open source companies.

This study is based on original research conducted in cooperation with the principles of established OSS database companies. Six OSS database companies participated in the study: MySQL AB, IBPhoenix, Sleepycat, DB4Objects, Great Bridge, and Genezzo. They were selected for study specifically because they focused solely on selling and supporting open source databases.

Our study methodology consisted of formulating a variety of questions that would characterize aspects of a company's business model in terms of revenue sources, size and growth, business emphasis, customer satisfaction, suitability of the product, and type of licensing. The specific results to these questions are available in a separate report.

I studied four active commercial OSS database companies, MySQL, IBPhoenix, Sleepycat, and DB4Objects. I also included in the study one important failed commercial venture, Great Bridge, and one pre-commercial venture, Genezzo. Although I considered the PostgreSQL project, the project was not included because it is not supported by any one specific company. Backplane was invited to participate but declined.

Of the business influences studied, the biggest influences were:

  • Whether the license was open or dual-use.
  • Time along the open source adoption curve.
  • Growth capacity.

    These influences are discussed in further detail in the results and analysis section at the end of this article and discussion is provided of how these business factors extrapolate to general open source companies.

    Table of contents
    1. "Executive Summary"
    2. "MySQL"
    3. "IBPhoenix"
    4. "Sleepycat"
    5. "DB4Objects"
    6. "Geat Bridge"
    7. "Genezzo Systems"
    8. "Licensing Model; Open Source Adoption Curve"
    9. "Growth Capacity; Conclusions"
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