I wrote last week about the commercial open source business strategies that I expect to dominate in 2009.
The flipside to that is the commercial open source community strategy. You simply can’t have one without the other, and I expect community strategies will be a hot topic in 2009 and beyond.
Savio Rodrigues wrote recently that “By the end of 2008, virtually every successful open source vendor has a fairly tightly controlled development process and this hasn’t hurt their revenue growth.”
Based on my prediction that proprietary licensing strategies will be increasingly important in the next two years I am inclined to agree with him.
However, I am also inclined to agree with The Silent Penguin’s prediction that “companies offering open source products will realize that without a community – that actually loves and is enthusiastic about the software – they are nothing”.
The open source vendors that are successful in 2009 and beyond will be those that find a balance between the two positions. Nothing new there, but I suspect that this year we will see significant discussion on how to achieve and maintain that balance.
If the debate in 2008 was about what terminology to use to describe organic or non-organic communities, the focus in 2009 will be on identifying how and why these strategies are best utilized to support commercial objectives.
There was also some discussion of this over the Christmas period, sparked by Stephen O’Grady’s Q&A on whether MySQL’s dual-licensing strategy impacts its ability to generate contributions from its community of users.
Zack Urlocker indicates that MySQL’s strategy will be changing in the months ahead and I expect many vendors will be focusing attention on ensuring that they are making the most of their community engagement.
That could mean a developer community, but as noted previously, some vendors and products don’t actually lend themselves to a community of individual developers. I believe we will see more communities of vendors as companies pay greater attention to what “community” means to them.
As Joe Brockmeier noted last week, “following the open-source trend just because everyone is doing it isn’t good enough. To succeed, you need a well-thought-out community plan that details exactly what your organization needs and wants from its community, and how it can achieve those goals.”
I certainly expect to be exploring this area a lot more this year, both on the blog and in terms of The 451 Group’s formal research output.