JasperSoft's hosted forge points the way to a new business opportunity

The most successful open-source companies may well end up being those that sell to open-source companies.

There are certain things that open-source and Software as a Service (SaaS) companies increasingly need, and which a new crop of vendors is rising to provide.

On the one hand, as JasperSoft's recent outsourcing of its forge software demonstrates, open-source companies need a place in which they can engage their community. (SaaS companies like Salesforce.com are increasingly doing the same thing, e.g., AppExchange.)

But subscription-based vendors also need subscription management tools (e.g., OCS), as well as "networks" to deliver updates, add-ons, and more, such as Bitrock is providing .

We're at the early, formative stages of this "enablement" market, but it's starting to feel like it could be offer real value in the midst of a gold rush. Much as the vendors of pickaxes and shovels reaped hefty rewards from the Forty-Niners so, too, could the Hyperics, Bitrocks, etc. of the world stand to clean up as the world moves to open source and SaaS models, even if only in part.

Why? Because these services enable add-on, proprietary value. In an open world, having a differentiated product to sell alongside the completely open version matters a great deal, as Savio consistently argues. There's a time and season for it - phases of open-source growth - but it's going to come.

When it does, the enablers may well make as much or more than those they enable.

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