Open Source Business Models Become More Attractive

The appeal of business models based on open source software and middleware is increasing, and drawing some who previously argued against such solutions.

The news that Kenneth Bossung had joined OpenGeo as senior VP might have seemed like little more than a glorified press release to some. But there was an interesting twist there - Bossung had spent his entire career thus far with proprietary software companies.

Now, Bossung has joined an open-source middleware core" business model has come under attack lately, this doesn't seem to fall under that category.OpenBlock Initiative receiving a grant from the James L. Knight Foundation to help news organizations aggregate news and records on a hyper-local level. OpenBlock is being developed by OpenPlans, the nonprofit that's parent to OpenGeo.

"I certainly sold against open source companies," Bossung said in a telephone interview, "saying that's not a really good alternative."

His opinion on that has changed, needless to say.

In talking to Bossung, two things struck me: First, that companies based on open source can have a solid business model as attractive to prospective employees as any proprietary company, and second, that companies based on open source can provide a financial foundation that can support other, more altruistic portions of the enterprise.

On the former, OpenGeo offers a whole stack of geospatial data. Those sophisticated enough to be able to plow through the databases and apps and extract the data they need or desire can do so. For others, OpenGeo sells its services in building software based on that data or in supporting that software.

Though the "

The second issue is quite interesting to me, and something near and dear to my heart. I previously wrote about the

The money made from its enterprise products helps go back and support the OpenPlans initiatives, which aim to bring news and information to people. The data in OpenGeo also helps support OpenPlans' blogs and programs, such as OpenBlock, GothamSchools and StreetsBlog.

"There's been a much greater acceptance of open source software," Bossung said, particularly over the past five to 10 years. It's a viable business model, he said, and he's happy to have made the move.

Like this? Here's more:

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.