Open Source Fragmenting

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OSS

A clear trend is steadily emerging: companies with Open Source offerings are gradually starting to charge for software. There are now many examples of this and there will be more in time. MySQL has led the way on this. In fact it has always offered a two-tier product structure, with two different licenses. One is a free Open Source version issued under the GPL and the other a paid-for version where you pay for support.

A two-tier product structure allows an Open Source company to add components that are charged for – or are only available if you pay for support. JBoss is another example.

A recent Open Source database vendor, Enterprise DB, is also running a two-tier model. Enterprise DB is an Oracle emulator based on the Open Sourced PostgreSQL database.

Sun Microsystems runs a similar model with Open Office, which is free, and Star Office which is a more evolved version of the same product, but comes at a price.

Want another example? VA Software's distributed development platform, SourceForge Enterprise Edition, is neither free nor Open Source.

What seems to be emerging is a business model, which leverages Open Source as a means of establishing a significant base of users but later involves charging directly for added value.

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