The open-source business (model) revolution

Open source produces great code. It also produces great businesses.

Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's newly minted vice president of Middleware, may be relatively new to the open-source game, but already he has picked up on its greatest strength. Yes, it is a winning development methodology. Yes, it can enable superior code.

But it's singular strength for a business guy like me is its unparalleled value for the customer and for the vendor in smacking around competitors. Craig notes in a interview:

I think very certainly there's tech innovation, but I think there's also business innovation, which is trying to find a better way to create software, have more flexibility, and build a business that's both beneficial for the business that we're building as a vendor, and beneficial for the customers. People talk about tech disruption...

...but at the end of the day this is really business disruption and it's a model of business. I've been in the software industry over 20 years and what's cool for me is the business mode is so much radically different than what anyone has ever done. It has benefits for customers, benefits for us, it's very fascinating.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Open source is a "ground up" (to continue to employ Muzilla's words) sales phenomenon. It's a way of "leaking" into a company until the software is so pervasive that an enterprise CIO has no alternative but to buy. It's not too dissimilar from how Microsoft has long pushed its products into enterprises...

...except that it doesn't rely on monopoly, illegal tying, etc.

The rest of the interview is great, too. Muzilla talks about the JBoss strategy and how open source enables Red Hat's business. But for me, the most salient point of all is the recognition that open source is simply a better way to do business.

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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