Entersource

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Thomas Prowse:

"Earlier this year, I came across the term "entersource" in Eric Knorr’s post on Infoworld’s Modernizing IT blog entitled 'Open source: Less profit, more fun', which leads off with the provocative statement that "Open source ain't what it used to be. It's both more and less." According to Eric, "a diminished percentage [of developers] work for healthy open source software vendors, where the old-fashioned business model -- give away the code and make money on support -- isn't doing so hot." Eric quotes Black Duck CEO Tim Yeaton, who sees the area of enterprise application development as the "real open source explosion", and Eric reports that Michael Skok of North Bridge Venture Partners dubs this co-mingling of open source and enterprise software “entersource”.

Since the four other models discussed above are grounded in the fundamental business equation of how the company makes money, it may seem, at first blush, that the customer-centric approach of entersource is a poor fit as a business model. In Sesame Street lingo, “one of these things is not like the others”! In fact, I see entersource and its variants as the major emerging OSS business model.

According to Eric’s blog, Michael Skok sees entersource "chiefly as a means for collaborative development". As I noted in my related blog post (and discussed in greater detail in my October 2008 OSBR article 'Treasury of the iCommons: Reflections of a Commons Sourcing Lawyer'), this exploding trend of "commons sourcing" is increasing. As Eric points out, this is reflected in the fact that "enterprise developers are collaborating across company boundaries to develop components that can be shared under open licenses". This phenomena is driving unprecedented cost savings within companies that are frequently order-of-magnitude improvements over the status quo. When interviewed by Makesh Sharma in The Australian article entitled 'Open source enables innovation without lawyers or fees', Roger Burkhardt, Ingress CEO, makes the point that "the open source model allows us to bring together the best minds in the world to work on a problem" and allows engineers from different companies to "collaborate without months of legal work."

As Michael Skok notes, there is an increased focus around OSS on "real ROI and payback, which has had the effect of making open source a 'mainstream, reliable, de facto part of the landscape'". In addition, Michael observes that "very few of these Open Source projects will reach the critical mass required to create a company," adding that, "a good product doesn't make a good open source project." In fact, he says, it is the reverse: you need a community first, and then a project to serve that community." In this context, we can expect to see entersource and its variants as a critical addition to the OSS business model landscape." (http://www.osbr.ca/ojs/index.php/osbr/article/view/1157/1107)