|By Simon Phipps||
|August 27, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
A guest asked a question that often crops up; 'Sun is giving so much source-code to open source (Project Looking Glass and Solaris the most recent announcements), how will it ever monetize these donations - how can you make money if you keep giving stuff away?' It's a good question. At its heart lies a misunderstanding about the nature of open source software, and once that's cleared up everything falls into place much more easily. The paradox - profiting from what is given away - is actually one many of us participate in every day in another area of our lives.
Open Source Development in Overview
Open source software development is best defined using the phrase coined by Professor Yochai Benkler - "commons-based peer production". Open source development uses a pool of software assets that is held in common by a community - termed a 'commons' by Professor Lawrence Lessig - which is enhanced and expanded over time. The community is comprised of peer experts of all kinds, each with a status reflecting only their abilities - age, previous achievements elsewhere, employer or external factors such as race or politics should be irrelevant. The community is focussed on production of software - "code talks, talk doesn't code".
Then for each aspect there is a facilitator.
- The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the rights that the community needs to function. The license will offer unrestricted access to the source code that comprises the commons, unrestrained by either payment requirements (gratis) or usage restrictions (libre).
The peer nature of the community is facilitated by the governance model of the community. This is often overlooked but it's just as important as the license. Good governance will for example result in the power to permanently change the contents of the commons (the power to 'commit' changes, exercised by a 'committer') being held only by those the community respects as best qualified.
The key to quality thus lies in governance. Bill Joy pointed out that no-one can hire all the smart people; open source development gathers them together and recognises the smartest as committers. The quality of good open source software comes not from many hands being involved but from the best being given the keys to the commons.
- The production of software from the commons is facilitated both by the license and the governance.
It's worth noting that the focus of an open source community is development - none of the freedoms required of a software deployer (such as strict compatibility with externally-defined standards, essential if the freedom to switch to a different software solution is to be preserved) are explicit objectives. All the time that open source software has been the preserve of developer-deployers there's been no issue, but as it becomes more widely used by deployers with no interest in development, the need for new ways to provide deployers with their necessary freedoms will grow.
What freedoms do deployers need? They're actually rather traditional:
- Function that meets actual business needs
- Freedom to change supplier, so that prices can always be negotiated
- Freedom to choose new software solutions as business needs evolve
- Control of the data, by implication control of the format it's stored in
- Protection from liabilities associated with the development of the software
Software derived from an open source community may or may not meet these requirements. For many companies, there has been an initial rush based on the abilities of skilled and visionary employees to obtain software gratis from open source communities but increasingly CIOs are realizing this doesn't secure all the freedoms they need for long-term business. They're turning to commercial suppliers to act as their intermediaries with the open source communities - "they join the community so we don't have to."
Just Like The Newspapers
The model Sun is developing for giving customers the benefits they need using open source is illustrated well by Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS). JDS comprises many software elements drawn from a wide range of open source communities. To understand what's happening, let's consider the newspaper industry.
Newspapers haven't been killed off by the Internet (at least, not yet!). The reason for this is that when we buy a newspaper, we're not buying the news. These days the news is free (gratis) - we can go online and read newsfeeds from organizations like Reuters or the Associated Press, or original reporting from an organization like the BBC. When I buy a newspaper like 'USA Today' or 'The Independent', I am actually buying an editorial style. The editor-in-chief for the newspaper sets the outlook, and then the editors and other staff select the news stories, phrase the reports, position them in the publication and perform the lay-out in support of that editorial outlook. If I go online to get the news, I have to do the work of selecting and filtering the news, and I may not always be aware of the biases of the source I am using. To get an aggregation of the news I want delivered in a style that helps me and with biases I understand, I subscribe to a newspaper.
JDS is just like this. Almost all the elements that comprise it - the Mozilla browser, the Evolution mail and calendar client, the StarOffice document productivity suite, the underlying GNU/Linux operating system they depend on, the Gnome desktop environment they use and much more - come from open source communities. You could go get all those parts yourself - they are all available gratis. But then you'd have to integrate them yourself, support them yourself, accept joint liability for their use of ideas yourself.
Instead, Sun acts like the editor-in-chief of the JDS 'publication.' Staff select the software components to include and exclude, work to integrate them, constribute to each of the open source communities to improve their compatibility and completeness. Sun packages and delivers the final publication, offers support and updates, fixes security exposures, offers indemnity and generally joins the communities so you don't have to.
You don't buy the software from Sun - instead you subscribe to the editorial outlook. Sun's editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining. If that's an editorial outlook that fits your corporate needs, you'd do well to subscribe.
To take the analogy further, you're not just subscribing to a publication that's tightly bound together between stitched hard-covers. JDS is more like a publication delivered in a ring-binder on punched paper. You're free to insert extra pages - add software like Wine to allow existing Windows applications to run, for example. You're free to remove pages you don't need. You're free to substitute pages where you have another preference (maybe you'd rather use the new Firefox browser?)
Resolving the Paradox
Perhaps it's clearer now why Sun donates software to open source communities. It's not a matter of 'giving away'. Instead, Sun is joining with the other smart folks out there and contributing to the commons of many communities to create and enhance the pool of software from which 'publications' such as JDS are then derived. Sun has always believed that business success comes not from eliminating competitors or always 'coming first' but from creating marketplaces in which Sun and others can all succeed - "a rising tide lifts all boats."
There will be other 'publications' you could choose - you could even assemble your own if you wish. But the right editorial outlook at the right subscription price will allow Sun to monetize its software investment more effectively than a closed sale of a sealed product ever could in our new, massively connected society.
|Pierre-Yves Gibello 08/31/04 12:54:34 PM EDT|
French translation of this article on http://gibello.com/publi/transl/articles/linuxworld_270804_sun_os.html
Any comments are welcome, before I eventually make this URL more public for french readers.
|clarifier 08/29/04 03:01:15 AM EDT|
I was just corrected on the definition of "non-exclusive" in a license, and I am wrong in my assumption.
Can't delete my post, so I'm admitting my mistake.
|clarifier 08/28/04 06:58:04 PM EDT|
Ahh, but the GPL is not a "non exclusive" license - the exclusivity of it is that you must agree to abide by it's rules. This excludes those who wish to not pass on the work they have benefited from, charge fess and or licenses, etc.
As such, your point is moot.
|cybervegan 08/28/04 06:01:24 PM EDT|
We will see. IBM (and hundreds of other F/OSS companies) wouldn't be betting the farm on it if it was that unclear - they have very smart lawyers whose bread and butter is Licenses and Contracts, so if they don't understand it better than you (unless you are a lawyer), they're in the wrong job.
I won't be posting any more replies to this thread as you're obviously just trolling.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 03:40:58 PM EDT|
> The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a
OK I admit it's a LICENSE...
Here's what the Federal Appellate Courts hold about your
"Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a nonexclusive
See the "Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a
Presumably someone wishes the GPL to be enforcable... so its
Perhaps you should contact the Second, Fifth and Ninth
|cybervegan 08/28/04 02:41:19 PM EDT|
>Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
If it's the GPL you are referring to, then you are totally mistaken. The GPL depends copyright law, but does not alter or circumvent it in any way. Copyright law says that without written permission from the copyright owner, you have no rights to duplicate or otherwise reproduce a copyrighted work (apart from the notion of 'fair use') or to produce derivative works of it. Copyright is not an 'applied for' right (like patents) - it is automatic , and immediately granted upon the fixing of a work in tangible form (i.e. you can't copyright thoughts, only an 'impression' of them).
GPL software is copyrighted just like any other work. You have no rights under standard copyright law to copy it or form derivatives. The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a contract) and grants you additional rights providing that you accept its terms - these additional rights include those of copying and deriving new works. As long as you accept the terms, and do not breach any of its conditions, you are entitled to exercise the additional rights that it grants you. You must, however, release any copies or derivatives under the same license terms, so that no-one is ever able to remove the existing rights of others to a GPL'ed work. In this way, it operates similarly to any other license agreement or EULA - without which you would have no right to use any licensed software. If copyright law worked the way you suggest, then no-one would ever be able to use any copyrighted material for any reason whatsoever - clearly not what the law is intended to mean.
Because it is a LICENSE, there is no requirement for payment. Unlike a contract, nothing needs to be signed, and nothing needs to be exchanged. Also, there is no expectation on the part of the LICENSOR for any consideration in respect of the LICENSE. The license also only comes into operation at the point at which you "distribute" a copy or derivative, meaning that you can keep as many personal copies or make personal derivatives as you like, but once you distribute, you have an obligation to provide the source-code upon request. It really is that simple - and so say the courts, too, both internationally and in the US.
There is nothing illegal or unenforceable about the GPL.
Hope that helps.
|Alex Theodore 08/28/04 01:45:40 PM EDT|
I don''t think Sun has a lot to loose by going to the subscription based software model. When were they really making lots of money from selling Solaris? Buying Solaris was sort of a give me when purchasing one of their big boxes. I mean who really runs Sparc Linux on a Sun Fire?
For the past few years they have basically been giving away Solaris ($99 CD media kit)? Then Sun moved to a free downloads of Solaris on their website. Where Sun has been making fists full of money (in my opinion) is the support fees. Having a Sun Spectrum Silver (or better) support account entitles you a RTU for Solaris on your supported systems, contract/public updates, etc.. So in essence this is pretty much the same thing as a JDS subscription. I guess the difference lies that now you can poke around in the source, and the community can contribute fixes/features.
So I guess I don''t see all they hype.. seems like the same stuff, just repackaged... perhaps I don''t get it.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 08:30:00 AM EDT|
>The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the
Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
|been there, done that 08/27/04 02:36:26 PM EDT|
This is not an original idea - even in the software world.
Microsoft for many years has already sold countless subscriptions to their MSDN.
Of course the OS is, itself, a subscription with ''issues'' every 2-3 years..
95, 98, 2000, etc..
|Rajesh Jayaprakash 08/27/04 12:01:31 PM EDT|
Somehow, I am not convinced. It''s all very well to talk of a subscription-based business model, but I don''t think Sun can hope to gain a lot of revenue from something like the Java Desktop System (BTW, I consider Sun''s using ''Java'' in a product that has nothing to with Java pretty despicable, but hey, it''s their trademark). There are plenty of distros that already offer the goodies in the JDS [*]. May be I am missing something here, but I fail to see what differentiates Sun from other such vendors (other than the fact that Sun can call it the ''Java'' Desktop System).
Re: "Sun''s editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining." Nope, nothing unique here. If you remove Sun''s name from the above sentence and replace it with, say, Red Hat''s, nobody would notice.
|cybervegan 08/27/04 11:33:04 AM EDT|
Why has SUN been so inconsistent about its F/OSS alignment? It appears very "now we we will, now we won''t" at times.
Furthermore, why is the GPL nature of SUN JDS so stealthily hidden on the distribution CD? Why is the language used in the License so vague? Anyone buying this product would assume that they don''t have a right to the source code *or* to copy the software. Most of the operating system is GNU licensed, and a small proportion is SUN owned, so we understand that those bits we can''t copy, but why does SUN have to mislead people in this way, or has this changed?
SUN may have given us OpenOffice, and for that we''re thankful (the measure of how thankful is the continued development and improvement of it). At one point, I thought SUN had actually "got it" about F/OSS. I recently downloaded the SUN Java Runtime Environment, and read the License. Talk about invasive.
Pamela Jones of Groklaw.net said of the SUN Java Desktop: "There are so many restrictions that the license requires a booklet of amendments listing all the other things you can''t do under this or that special circumstance. The wording, he says, is unusually complex, and he suggests you have your legal eagles look the license over before you even consider making a buying recommendation on it. "
Makes you wonder. The F/OSS community will not praise SUN for such plundering - it seems that SUN is disregarding the very community it is taking from to produce the Java Desktop.
What a shame.
|MyDreamComeTrue 08/27/04 07:06:16 AM EDT|
So, after Solaris from Sun is open-sourced, all we need now is for MSFT to open up the file formats for Word documents so that programs like OpenOffice can correctly decode the formatting and we''ll all be waltzing toward the new promised land
Mr Simon Phipps, we like the sound of this!!
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Sep. 3, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 364
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Sep. 3, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 281
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be.
Sep. 3, 2015 12:15 PM EDT
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Sep. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 245
Containers are not new, but renewed commitments to performance, flexibility, and agility have propelled them to the top of the agenda today. By working without the need for virtualization and its overhead, containers are seen as the perfect way to deploy apps and services across multiple clouds. Containers can handle anything from file types to operating systems and services, including microservices. What are microservices? Unlike what the name implies, microservices are not necessarily small, but are focused on specific tasks. The ability for developers to deploy multiple containers – thous...
Sep. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 120
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Sep. 3, 2015 11:30 AM EDT
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
Sep. 3, 2015 10:45 AM EDT
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Sep. 3, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,599
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Sep. 3, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 279
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Sep. 3, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 201
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Sep. 3, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 208
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Sep. 3, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 649
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, will discuss how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the data to create additional revenue streams, such as improved warranties or premium features. Or slash...
Sep. 3, 2015 09:15 AM EDT
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Sep. 3, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 315
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Sep. 3, 2015 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 106
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Sep. 3, 2015 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,023
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Sep. 3, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 493
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
Sep. 3, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,595
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Sep. 3, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 736
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Sep. 3, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,688