Open source arms dealers
As open source booms, those who provide the infrastructure critical to driving an open source business will thrive, too.
Look around at the rising tide of open source companies, and you'll find some things in common:
- Jira for bug and issue tracking;
- Confluence, SocialText, or some other wiki technology for online documentation;
- Jive Forums or other forum software of some stripe;
- Demand generation software (Loopfuse, Eloqua, or other)
- Hyperic for network functionality (a la Red Hat Network).
There is other software that open source companies have in common, but these are some of the major commonalities. Most people don't realize just how much money there is in arming the next century of software. Atlassian, for example, is doing upwards of $30M this year, according to a VC source of mine. And yet Atlassian has never taken a dime in venture funding. I suspect that number will continue to explode as more and more open source companies come online, and more and more proprietary vendors start to experiment with open source methodologies.
This last point is the key. There is no shortage of future for open source but most of it is, well, in the future, as Savio notes. So the real opportunity for these open source "arms dealers" is to get a foothold today which will dramatically expand in the future as the world shifts to the new norm of developing, distributing, and supporting software.
I've said it before specifically about Hyperic, but it's a much wider phenomenon than that. There is a rich future for those feeding the open source trend. This is the case for Telecom today (as BusinessWeek describes, Telecom is profiting from the move of high-bandwidth digital media to the web), and for any market, really. There are those who build the applications, and those who enable them. Both routes can be profitable.