This research note is a list of some heavy hitting trends that will have a significant impact over the next 12 to 36 months. It is certainly not the total extent of our OSS related research for the year but is meant as a jumping off point for the 2010 agenda.
For 2010 year we’ve focused on 3 predictions related to the “business of open source”. Its impossible to do justice to the complete rationale behind these predictions without reading the full note but I’ll share some very brief commentary here anyway.
I’d strongly encourage clients to read the note and even schedule a direct phone conversation to dig into the meat of the predictions and the rationale behind each one..
As an aside, we once assigned probabilities to our strategic planning assumptions (predictions) but in recent years we’ve dropped that practice. Personally I miss the probabilities, they allowed us to make forward thinking statements with measured degrees of confidence. For example…
- A 60% probability meant the the prediction was based mostly on a hunch with very limited analytical evidence beyond a small niche of technology elites.
- A 70% probability meant that we saw early evidence to suggest a strong degree of confidence. For example we might be aware of early vendor R&D pipelines, or innovator/early-adopter activities.
- An 80% probability meant that we saw very strong momentum among early majority adopters, vendor product portfolios, etc.
- A 90% probability meant the prediction was virtually a done deal
Typically, predictions would start with a 5 year time line and low probabilities the probabilities would grow as the timeline shrank or we’d abandon the SPA and report why if it didn’t track as predicted. IMO the model worked very well but alas we don’t use probabilities anymore. The reasons are varied but we apparently received a lot of feedback that clients simply didn’t understand or consider them in most SPA’s.
The reason mention this is because without probabilities our predictions often come across as “crystal ball’ efforts when in reality there is a lot of research and analyst behind each one. I’ve added probabilities back in this blog entry in an attempt to increase the context of each SPA.
Strategic Planning Assumptions
- By 2011, growing diversity among open-source adopters will result in three distinct categories of OSS: (1) community projects, with broad developer networks; (2) vendor-centric projects controlled by commercial technology providers; (3) and commercial community projects, which have vendor-independent support channels.
90% probability. To those with an ‘inside baseball’ perspective on OSS this is already reality. However most in the mainstream IT community are unaware of the diversity among OSS projects and the recent trends toward vendor controlled communities. In the next couple of years the issues will become much better understood and we will begin to see a true taxonomy emerge.
- By 2012, at least 70% of the revenue from commercial OSS will come from vendor-centric projects with dual-license business models.
80% probability. This is may true today but the lack of revenue among broader market OSS products compared to Linux isn’t large enough yet to make this one a done deal. What is clear is that the overwhelming majority of ‘commercial oss’ efforts are based on a dual license model – vendor prefer the ‘open core’ moniker because it sounds more OSS friendly but its essentially the same thing.
- By 2013, more than 50% of new open-source projects will leverage licenses that require code reciprocity (aka “affero”-style licenses) when hosted on external-facing servers; this is an increase from fewer than 5% in 2009.
60% probability. This prediction is perhaps most controversial. Its based on a growing trend among new projects I’m tracking, commercial vendor trends, and investor strategies. This is one to watch.
- The open source software (OSS) model is not anti-commercial, but it doesn’t depend on commercial success.
- More-conservative open-source adopters will require a more robust commercial support channel for open-source solutions than technologically aggressive adopters. In these cases, users must often accept compromises between the “open” nature of the OSS model and the competitive realities of commercial software providers.
- The most successful commercial, open-source vendor strategies rely on dual-license strategies that blend elements of traditional closed-source and open-source dynamics.
- Differentiate the specific requirements for meeting minimal levels of quality of service (QoS) for individual open-source projects based on maturity and adopter profile.
- Integrate commercial open-source support strategies into broader enterprise software asset management initiatives.
- Understand that vendor-centric OSS will sacrifice the breadth and depth of the large developer community for stronger commercial support from a smaller number (often only one) of vendors.
- Plan for changes in historical open-source licensing and business models driven by emerging software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-computing infrastructures.
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