Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thoughts on Open Source and Dual Licensing
The folks over at the 451 Group have stated dual licensing is the practice of selling exceptions to use an open source code base using a commercial license, while open core licensing is the practice of selling extensions to an open source code base. The open source community at large believes one is goodness and the other is not. You decide which one :-)
Dual licensing has diminished in popularity as many commercial open source entities have opted for open core extensions as a quicker way to monetize community adoption.
One perspective that is missing on dual licensing is the perspective of the enterprise which have their own perspectives as to whether dual licensing is a good thing. If the enterprise has decided to spend money on software, then by definition, they think that others should adopt a similar model. Many contracts have clauses that align with the concept of most favorable nation which says that that many want to ensure they get the lowest price possible. If the second license is free then it makes these types of clauses problematic.
More importantly, enterprise confusion is introduced as it changes the model of influence or at least makes it less clear. Enterprises spend money for influence. The more that is expended, the more influence they believe they have. By introducing another model that isn't built on this premise, erodes the ability of the enterprise to influence through traditional means.
The hype of the minute is cloud computing which also serves to diminish the need for dual and/or open core approaches. As business models around SAAS continue to grow the need to distribute software in traditional terms will decline causing the issue of dual licensing to go the way of the dinosaur...
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