Open source + marketing: A match made in heaven

Open-source marketing may look different, but don't be fooled: it's critical and it's always there. profiles the rise of Alfresco to prove its point that open source married to marketing is a very good match, but the same is true of an increasing number of open-source projects. They're no longer about random itches and corresponding scratches.

Open source is big business, and becomes bigger every day. Bigger, in part, because of the marketing dollars that increasingly feed it:

Instead of a project that began with the attitude of "My Dad has a barn; let's put on a play!" the Alfresco team started with a core competency in content management and looked for new market opportunities.Alfresco saw open-source as a unique distribution mechanism. That's the same phrase you hear from techie open-source proponents, but they generally mean, "We build it, and they come... and if they don't come, that's okay too, because our code is groovy." The projects may have succeeded, but nobody made money. And, last time we looked, landlords wanted to be paid.

What's particularly interesting about Alfresco is that the early interest in open source was primarily about distribution. But it has quickly evolved to be even more about community, contributions, and code. In other words, the sales and marketing benefits are huge, but so, too, have been the code-related components. More so, in my mind.

Can you build a great open-source project without marketing? No. In some way or another, you have to build the product that the world wants (marketing gets you there), and you have to let the world know about it (marketing gets you there). It may be that open-source marketing looks a bit more authentic than traditional marketing, but it's marketing all the same.

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco. But you already knew that.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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