Open Core Licensing - moving from "bait-and-switch" to "suggest-and-complement"

2008-11-11 Software-Engineering Open-Source

The Open Core Licensing discussion is really refreshing! Lots of good ideas and lots of good energy. Obviously the "earlier" versions of the model were more oriented towards a "bait-and-switch" approach (get a good stack for free, but then if you want to do real/serious enterprise computing, you have to to buy the real thing :)). Right now the models have evolved into more mature "suggest-and-complement" models (aka. Open Core Licensing). And I am using the word "mature", because talking about it (the desire the make money with open source) like this, should be the norm and not the exception.

Yes, I am working for Progress (the software company, not the vacuum cleaners :)) and we have an Open Core Licensing Strategy (looking into the "Open Source is not a Business Model" report it is debatable, if Progress (formerly known as IONA) may also fall into the open-closed category) and I am proud of it.

The important part for me is freedom (of choice for customers) and value (for customers). We are suggesting to use our integration-core, -platform, -stack (whatever you want to call it) to do JAVA-based integration and if you are happy with it, we are happy too. We then offer consulting, training and support for it (by the way, our distribution is called FUSE), but the choice is always yours. It is complete and has a value on its own. There are no "hidden features", that will cripple the distribution to create an "artificial" up-sell opportunity.

There you have it. Great value for money.

But wait there is more: We already have or will integrate this core with lots of interesting add-ons, which will complement the core and will make the resulting platform even more valuable (e.g. Mainframe integration, C++ integration, .Net integration, data integration, ...). And yes, we are looking for ways to get our fair share of the generated end-customer value. But that should be a win-win. The secret is in the add-ons. They must bring a significant, additional, unique value to the table, that would otherwise be hard to get (e.g. implementing it yourself :)). If the add-ons are structured like this, everybody will be happy to pay money for it/them (given you need them :)).

And there you have it again. Even more value for money.

But the biggest value of all is for me that with this model customers stay in control. It is a pay-as-you-go model, means nobody is forced to spend large sums of money upfront to get something done. And this creates good, value-oriented, customer-vendor relationships. 

I like it.