A blog for the enterprise open source community
Trying to keep the customer satisfiedMatthew Aslett, April 21, 2008 @ 9:39 am ET
I was just reading Fabrizio Capobanco’s take on the MySQL excitement (“this move is clearly into the right direction”) when it occurred to me that the situation is related to the comments recently made by the former CTO of Kaplan Test, Jon Williams, at the recent OSBC conference.
As I wrote at the time: “Another point Jon made was that the subscription model helps keep open source vendors on their toes as every year he gets to decide whether they will received another payment.”
In other words, as Matt Asay put it: “the more happy he is with his commercial open-source software, the less likely he will be to pay for it. Why? Because his developers will acquire the expertise over time to support themselves and because the product will mature to the point that support will be less necessary.”
Is this the challenge that MySQL faces? A lot of attention is placed on its circa 1:1,000 conversion rate from Community users to Enterprise subscribers, but I wouldn’t mind betting MySQL and Sun are more concerned about retaining that one existing paying customer than they are chasing the 999 who will most likely never pay.
That does not mean the company should – or can afford to – turn its back on its Community users, of course, but it does make it hard to balance the two communities. Ultimately I believe that a lot of the really negative reaction has been based on a misunderstanding that the company was going to remove features from the open source version, which is clearly not the case.
The company needs to move quickly to decide and explain how exactly it is going to license the new functionality. Once it has everyone can make up their own minds and get on with (or without) it. Until then, the confusion is likely to grow.
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