Commercial open source had very good 2009

2009 was a year many would like to forget, but not the open-source crowd, which saw record revenues and community involvement in 2009.

2009 was very good for open-source businesses. Sure, there was the very public news of Red Hat's gravity-defying year , along with Novell's SUSE Linux business climbing each quarter , but what of the still-private open-source companies?

It turns out they had much to celebrate, too.

Not every open-source company publicized its progress, but several did:

  • SugarCRM announced a "record year in terms of revenue, subscriptions and users, adding over 2,000 commercial customers" to bring its total customer base to over 6,000 organizations scattered across 75 different countries. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to the company.)
  • Zimbra got the press, but Open-Xchange managed to increase its user base to 15 million users, a net increase of 7 million users in 2009.
  • Sonatype, which plays a key role in advancing the Apache Maven community, has seen Maven Central hits skyrocket to 300 million, with unique visitors doubling over 2008. While I am not privy to its financial results, I do know from sources close to the company that the Sonatype has consistently hit its targets.
  • Alfresco, my employer, notched its 17th-straight growth quarter at the end of 2009. Alfresco is profitable with results that put it on the IPO track.
  • While still largely pre-revenue, open-source cloud computing pioneer Eucalyptus Systems scored 15,000 monthly downloads after launching in April, with companies like Eli Lilly lining up to trial its software.
  • JasperSoft grew its open-source business intelligence business by 75 percent, year-over-year. Downloads crept close to 8 million with over 100,000 paying customers. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to the company.)
  • Even companies that don't normally make a lot of noise, like Songbird, made significant headway, with Songbird scoring a significant distribution deal with Philips.

Red Hat argues that the bad economy has been good for open source. The evidence above, while hardly conclusive, indicates that the open-source bellwether could be right.

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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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