Today I participated and lectured at an open source event. It was great to meet enthusiastic people that believe in something bigger then themselves. These events are always a mixture of young people full of vigor and need for rebellion as well as more balanced older people that have believed in open source for a long time.
I have been intrigued with open source and open source business models for a long time now, so I might belong to the second group.
Anyway, in the keynote, the speaker talked about open source business models, saying that the professional services business model is better then proprietary code business model because it provides real value to the end consumer and because you get a return of your investment in this business model.
1) I have seen companies misuse the professional services business model (open source or not) – selling poor service and wasting the clients time and spending his money with "experts" that know very little.
2) There is no motivation for a company, basing its business on open source development and professional services, to create simple and easy to use application. This is because simple and easy to use applications do not generate the need for professional services. Professional services thrive on complexity and difficulty.
3) Professional services business model (open source or not) can create a tension between the service provider that wants to prolong the duration and manpower sent on a project and the client how wants exactly the opposite
4) I am not sure the open source professional services business model is a big enough business to drive the entire market to open source products or to sustain open source companies.
I have once personally been told in an open source project – “Do not add this auto-configuration feature, it will kill our professional services” of course after a long “discussion” we added the feature, but the potential to provide a sucky product just to satisfy this open source business models was still there.
I am still thinking about and waiting for the business models that can really sustain and grow a large scale and successful open source company.
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