Open Business Models
When I started writing this, I wrote "Last week Opscode..."
Now that's: A couple of months ago, Opscode came out with a bunch of announcements, one of them being that they are going to support the Open Source Chef in addition to their own platform.
I'd love to see more companies do this formally. Over the past couple of years I've had numerous situations where organizations where happy to pay for support to an commercial backer of Open Source software... but they were not interested in software updates, fancy dashboards, unneeded features.
Let alone being limited by some of the features of the Enterprise product (what do you mean there's no vlan support in Xen? We've been using that for ages (anno 2008)
Even right now I'm talking with a customer that is interested in getting commercial support for an open source project but he feels that by choosing the Enterprise version of the software he will be limiting his options...
We've had this kind of situations with MySQL, Xen, Knowledgetree and others.
The sad story is that with the growth of Open Source adoption, lots of companies are finding their commercial talents in the pool of people that used to work for the proprietary vendors, the kind of sales people that don't get Open Source (aside from some exceptions) and are still trying to hardsell a product based on specsheets and feature roadmaps, where most quality open source software are build by people to solve problems , hence those new sales people keep doing their old job selling products while not listening to their actual customer needs.
I've seen this escalate up to the point where people that are willing to support the Open Source project by paying a vendor for support don't do so because it's not the right form for them eventually leading to even less revenue for the said vendor.
Yes, I know that supporting a multitude of distributions, library combinations and architectures is a complex thing to do, and a lot of the proprietary vendors ruined the market by inventing something like certified platforms on which they supported their software.
But if you as an open source software company are really interested in improving your product why wouldn't you take money from a customer that wants to pay for bugs to be fixed or features to be implemented in your product.
You've already realized that the software industry is different from 10 years ago and that Open Source is here to stay...yet you are still thinking in the sales model with products and specsheets of that era.