I like to follow open source community discussions because of their implications for enterprise software investment and simply because they remind me of the internal engineering/marketing/sales discussions in all the dysfunctional IT companies in which I cut my teeth 30 years ago. The difference is that those companies did not broadcast their differences to propsects and competitors. Open source infighting is also a strawman for left-wing/right-wing political-junkie talkshows except that you actually have to read what the opponents think rather than just watch MSN and FNC.
The current brouhaha over "why Compiere failed" is a good example. Many of the leading lights of open source have weighed in. On one side, some take the so-called "open core" right-wing approach which says it's OK to offer a core of a open-source- licensed software wrapped with closed-source features and functions. Mark Radcliffe's post to which I link above because it points you to all sides of the discussion is the middle-of-the-road business-like approach. Simon Phipps, late of Sun, takes the far-left copy-left "free software" position saying:
" 'Software freedom' may sound abstract, but it is the system of thinking behind the very practical and tangible benefits that have drawn vast numbers of businesses to use open source. As I have written previously, the four freedoms (to use, study, modify and distribute the software without restriction) have created a vast market by enabling cost-savings and flexibility."
The founder of the Compiere project weighs in on one of the links from Mark's post blaming former Oracle (ORCL) exec and Compiere CEO Don Klaiss. In many places, the relationship of the Apache Software Foundation and underlying Apache open source license to open core gets both credit and blame.
First of all, in a business sense (which is what it's all about after all), I'm not sure "Compiere failed." I don't have access to the inside scoop. It was acquired by a compay named Consona. Dressing it up for acquisition might have been the investors' exit strategy from the start. If so, bravo (that's a pun for you real Compiere insiders).
Second, to the extent that the idea of marketing another ERP package into the most saturated enterprise-software market of all time failed, the reason is explained here. Clearly the Compiere founders did no market research despite the protestation that they understood that the Kevin Costner "if you build it, they will come" approach is a bad business plan. (Unless you have deep pockets like Kevin Costner and can wait 20 years and donate heavily to politicians who will finally order some bureacrat to use your centrifuge.)
Third, and most important in terms of watching how your money is invested, I repeat: there is no open source market, "vast" or otherwise. The open source navel gazers keep deluding themselves about what is on one hand a set of terms and conditions and on another, a fraternity (literally, I still see very few women at their meetings).
Meanwhile Oracle and early Apache supporter IBM laugh all the way to the bank. They and the other leading enterprise software companies -- including even Microsoft (MSFT), on whose Windows operating system most open source licensed software runs -- took over the movement years ago the same way the leading software companies took over their user groups.
-- Dennis Byron (no financial interest in companies mentioned).