Loomio
Sat 30 Apr 2016

Repelling boarders: advice about "open core" business strategies

DS
Danyl Strype Public Seen by 286

I think NZ GOAL-SE should explain the "open core" business model, and advise against having anything to do with companies that use it, or their software.

DS

Danyl Strype Sat 30 Apr 2016

I've been reading about MySQL, software that was 100% free code, but its new owner Oracle is making some of its components proprietary, so they are only available in its commercial "Enterprise Edition". This is know as an "open core" strategy, and its one of a number of bad things that can happen to free code projects that get swallowed by corporates ("acquired"). It's a way of outsourcing a certain amount of development work to the free code community, without giving back on an equal basis.

For the record, I advocate that the software made by companies that use "open core" strategies be strategically forked, and the fully free code version made better than the "Enterprise Edition" as quickly as possible. This way, software companies will learn that free code contributors are not a "human resource" they can exploit for private profit, and only companies that release all their code can benefit from the work of the free code community and survive commercially. To me, this is essential self-defence for the free code and open source movements, and a key part of the strategy against openwashing.

DS

Danyl Strype Sat 30 Apr 2016

Other companies using the "open core" strategy include GITHub, GITLab, Piwik, and Android. It involves some part of a software project being released as free code, but certain features remaining proprietary, so that the company can exclusively sell an "Enterprise Version". Note: not every company that sells hosted services or pre-compiled binaries is "open core", there are some that still release all their code (AFAIK Red Hat and Loomio do, and MySQL did until Oracle's recent decision). They trust that those who want to spend money on the produce will spend it with the original developer, until a fork is offering something significantly better, which usually involves a fair amount of work on their part, and assuming a copyleft license has been used, benefits the original developers anyway.