Open innovation and industry collaborations are becoming more and more common as companies and industries look to modernize their R&D, optimize resources and even expand their partner ecosystems. Andrew Aitken recognized this trend in ‘The Advent of Super Communities’ as something we see more and more in open source communities. As Andrew has pointed out, there are numerous examples of industry collaborations based in open source communities.
For organizations looking to start an industry collaboration, there are four key challenges they must address:
1) How to share the technology
2) The process they will use to develop the technology
3) How control and decision making are established
4) How the community will grow and prosper
It turns out established open source communities, like the Eclipse Foundation and Linux Foundation, can easily address these challenges. It is interesting to examine why open source communities are better suited for these types of collaborations than other models: mainly, that the fundamental building blocks for industry collaborations, things like technology licensing, development processes, governance and community building, have already been established by these existing open source communities. More specifically…
1. Technology Sharing/Licensing. Any industry collaboration needs to address how participants will share the results of their collaborations. Established open source communities have defined agreements regarding how participants agree to share their inputs and a defined license for how the output will be shared. If the industry collaboration is being setup to freely share the technology without royalties, then open source licensing is a proven model.
2. Development Process. Open source communities have been very successful at enabling large-scale distributed development. The principles of openness, transparency and meritocracy are pillars of any successful open source communities. There are many examples of industry collaborations that have been plagued with the ‘design my committee’ mentality that inhibits the development process; however, the development processes and principles of open source communities have proven to deliver successful technology.
3. Governance and Control. Control and decision making are important details for any successful industry collaboration, especially if the participants are competitors in the same industry. Open source foundations offer a vendor-neutral environment to establish collaborations. Most open source foundations have recognized bylaws and decision making processes that suit industry collaborations.
4. Creating a community. The initial founders of an industry collaboration often want to encourage new participants and a wider community of users and adopters around the technology. The barriers to entry for open source communities are generally very low for participation. Tim O’Reilly coined the term ‘architecture of participation’ to describe how open source communities are built to encourage community engagement. Industry collaboration’s that aspire to create a broader community can use the open principles of open source to create their own community.
As Andrew has suggested, communities like the Eclipse Foundation and Linux Foundation ‘bring a culture and a practice of openness balanced with commercial needs’ that are ideally suited for industry collaborations. As vertical industries look for new ways to collaborate, I expect we will see more of them choose open source as the model and implementation for their collaboration.
When The VAR Guy launched his website in January 2008, our resident blogger kept a super close eye on open source channel partner programs. At one point, The VAR Guy published the Open Source 50 — tracking how the top open source companies were working with VARs and IT service providers. So whatever happened to each of the 50 companies in that annual list?
Some are dead, some are thriving, and many have repositioned for cloud computing, Big Data and other buzz words. Here’s a belated update from The VAR Guy in alphabetical order…
1. Acquia: The Drupal specialist still has a partner program for service providers, and Drupal’s popularity as a content management platform has grown extensively.
2. Actuate: Still focused on the Eclipse BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) open source project.
3. Alfresco Software Inc.: Still promoting itself as the leading open source alternative to enterprise content management. Now managing more than 6.6 million users and 3.3 billion documents worldwide.
4. Astaro Corp.: Once positioned as an a unified threat management (UTM) system that leveraged open source. Now owned by Sophos, the endpoint security and anti-virus company.
5. Canonical: The Ubuntu promoter has pushed beyond desktop Linux to promote server and cloud options for channel partners and customers. Still a well-known name, but the rise of tablets and smartphones running Apple iOS and Google Android seems to have stolen some of Ubuntu’s spotlight. Memo to Director of Communications Gerry Carr: Let’s catch up.
6. ClearCenter: Still positioning itself as a provider of an open software platform for running Server, Network, & Gateway services. Recently announced a relationship with Zarafa, the open source email system. It has been awhile since The VAR Guy spoke with ClearCenter CEO Michael Proper. How’s life, Michael?
7. Cleversafe: The storage company, launched in 2004, had a strong open source market presence but appeared to change directions around September 2010, when open source related forums were removed from its website. These days, Cleversafe describes itself as a company that solves big data storage problems, with no mention of open source.
8. Compiere Inc.: Consona acquired Compiere, an open source ERP specialist, in 2010. The old Compiere website is still online, but channel partners would be wise to visit the Consona’s Compiere landing page.
9. Continuent Inc.: Still focused on database replication technology, particularly for Oracle and MySQL environments — plus a channel partner program for VARs.
10. Digium Inc.: Promoter of Asterisk, the open source IP PBX. Most recently launched its own line of IP phones, giving channel partners end-to-end unified communications solutions for customers. But The VAR Guy wonders: Will Digium ever launch its own Asterisk offering in the cloud? Hmmm…
Tired Yet? Read On for 11 to 20
11. DotNetNuke Corp.: Promoter of a web content management platform for Microsoft .NET environments. Find partner program information here.
12. eBox Technologies: The company changed its name to Zentyal in August 2010. Zentyal continues to promote a Linux small business server.
13. EnterpriseDB: Still positioning itself as a PostgreSQL open source alternative to Oracle databases. The company has a growing list of SaaS and cloud channel partners.
14. eRacks Open Source Systems: Apparently humming along, providing open source rackmount servers and desktop computers.
15. Eucalyptus Systems: The open source cloud company in April 2012 raised $30 million in new funding, but competition from OpenStack and perhaps Citrix CloudStack seems to be intensifying.
16. Fluendo SA: Still focused on multi-media solutions for open source. Recently joined the Linux Foundation.
17. GroundWork Open Source (GWOS): Now known more simply as GroundWork Inc., still focused on IT monitoring solutions but various partner program efforts (including an MSP push) never quite went mainstream. Some partners are still listed here.
18. Ingres Corp.: The open source database provider repositioned as Actian Corp. in September 2011 to focus on a cloud development platform for consumer style apps. The rebranding came about three months after Ingres (er, Actian) had changed CEOs.
19. Intalio Inc.: Still focused on private cloud computing but the company’s news page hasn’t been updated since July 2011. Hmmm…
20. IPBrick International: Still focused on unified communications, VoIP with a touch of Linux mixed in.
You Can’t Quit Reading Now: 21 to 3021. Jaspersoft Corp.: Still focused on the business intelligence software market, with growing initiatives around cloud computing, big data, and mobile deployments.
22. JumpBox Inc.: Continues to offer “hassle free” open source server software. But there are few, if any, signs of a partner program.
23. Kaltura Inc.: Still promoting an open source video platform.
24. KnowledgeTree Inc.: Back in 2007, KnowledgeTree positioned itself as the world’s leading open source document management system. Today, KnowledgeTree calls itself the online document management solution provider.
25. Likewise Software: Focused on identity management, security and storage, Likewise originally built software that let Linux, Unix and Mac systems authenticate to Microsoft Active Directory. EMC acquired Likewise in March 2012.
26. Magnolia International: Continues to position itself as an open web content management system.
27. Mandriva SA: Crashed and burned but hoping for a comeback.
28. Mindtouch: Social help company repositioned from open source to SaaS in 2010.
29. MuleSoft: Positioned itself as “the leading provider of open source infrastructure and integration software” in 2007. Today, MuleSoft prefers to say it “provides the most widely used integration platform for connecting SaaS and enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise.” Still running a partner program.
30. MySQL: The open source database is now owned by Oracle, and positioned as an alternative to Microsoft SQL Server.
More Than Half-Way Done: 31 to 4031. Novell: Sold to Attachmate in 2011, and the SUSE Linux business is now more of a freestanding business under Attachmate’s ownership, free of Novell’s shadow.
32. Nuxeo: Still positioning itself as an open source enterprise content management system. Double revenues in 2011, and Nuxeo announced 12 new SI partners and 9 new technology partners.
33. Open-Xchange: The company continues to promote open source email to hosting providers and SaaS specialists.
34. Openbravo: Still focused on open source ERP, revenues grew 143 percent in 2011.
35. Opengear: Still providing advanced console server and enterprise grade remote management solutions.
36. Pentaho: Pushing its open source experience to promote big data analytics.
37. Red Hat Inc.: The biggest ongoing winner on our list, Red Hat has pushed beyond Linux to promote JBoss middleware, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat Storage and a range of cloud-oriented solutions. Oh, and Red Hat became the world’s first $1 billion open source company a few months ago.
38. rSmart: Promoter of open source management software for colleges. Things have been a little quiet in 2012. The VAR Guy needs a closer look.
39. SpringSource: Now a division of VMware, and positioned as a cloud application platform.
40. StarPound Technologies Inc.: Positioned as an open source unified communications company in 2008. Now positioned as a cloud-based call center. But is StarPound still active? Hmmm… (Side note: Winner for most creative company name on this list, combining the Star button and the Pound button from the phone to create “StarPound.”)
Finish Line Ahead: 41 to 5041. SugarCRM Inc.: Still in growth mode, and still working closely with channel partners.
42. Talend Inc.: Still positioned as the open source integration company. Making noise in the Big Data market.
43. Untangle: The open source security company has repositioned a bit, pushing beyond software to introduce firewall appliances in 2012.
44. Vyatta Inc.: Positioned itself in 2007 as an open networking company that focused on an open source network operating system and routing system to compete against Cisco. Now the company barely mentions open source, positioning itself instead as “the leader in software-based networking for virtual and cloud environments.”
45. Xandros Corp.: The Linux specialist apparently imploded around 2010.
46. xTuple: Continues to position itself as commercial open source company focused on business applications across sales, accounting and operations. Sort of ERP in the open source market. Company was very quiet in 2011, but starting to make some news again in 2012.
47. Zarafa: Still positioned as open source email platform. Partnered with ClearCenter (#6, above) in March 2012.
48. Zenoss Inc.: Promotes IT operations management software for physical and virtual environments. The company barely mentions open source in its news releases these days, saying instead that it offers unified IT operations software for physical, virtual, and cloud-based IT infrastructure. The company continues to grow rapidly, generating 196 percent new sales growth in Q4 2011.
49. Zimbra: Now owned by VMware, and still positioned as an open source email alternative to Microsoft Exchange. But have things been a little quiet with Zimbra lately? Hmmm… There was that Zimbra win with EarthLink.
50. Zmanda Inc.: Still positioned as an open source-based provider of enterprise backup and disaster recovery. Most recently, Zmanda integrated its storage software with Google Cloud Storage.
Keeping ScoreWow, that’s quite a lengthy list. The final scorecard:
- Roughly six of the 50 open source companies have been acquired since around 2008
- Roughly eight of the 50 open source companies now downplay open source in their news announcements.
- At least two of the companies have changed their names.
- At least two of the companies have either closed or are on life support.
- Just about all of the companies listed now promote terms like cloud computing, cloud services and Big Data management.
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