|By Stephen Walli||
|March 18, 2013 09:45 AM EDT||
Concerns are raised every once in a while in the broader free and open source software community about freeloaders. The attitude expressed is that if you're getting the benefit of FOSS, you should contribute. Building a business on a FOSS project you don't own, whether you're providing a service or product around a FOSS project should in return garner some sort of quid pro quo. In reality, freeloaders are desirable.
I think we need to look through the other end of the telescope. The people most often concerned about freeloaders and the free ride are actually the ones with the motivation problem - they expect free work (or "free" customers). I recently wrote about "Making Open Source." One of the first things required is a motivation to share. One of the next requirements is an ability to collaborate. I believe the people most likely to express concerns about freeloaders seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their work.
You almost never see this concern expressed by a company that is participating in a community it doesn't own. They are obviously happy to be contributing and getting more than they give. They are themselves by definition not freeloaders, and clearly the community is evolved enough that they're probably not the only outside contributing company. Likewise, project founders and committers seem to be happy to see others using their work. All these folks already understand the dynamic. One tends to find the freeloader concern expressed by companies that "own" the open source project.
In a former life as a consultant, I saw companies that own projects raise concerns about contribution and about "giving away their software for free." This is really another way of saying, "we didn't receive the expected contributions in kind." Worse, there would be discussion about users that didn't convert into customers because this would be the only forgivable reason not to contribute. The thinking was, "somebody needs to pay."
Such companies confused customers testing the solution in the user community with genuine community users that aren't convertible leads. The company couldn't initially fathom that developing a community of users around a technology project would:
- Create the knowledge, expertise and experience necessary to provide a complete solution for the technology pitch to the customer. These proof points are invaluable when actual potential customers are self-qualifying themselves in the community and testing the strength of a solution's community.
- Create advocates and evangelists to spread awareness about a solution.
- Create enormous inertia in the status quo around a technology they own or provide the dominant expertise around.
- Anchor customers both in an engaged relationship as well as from a technology perspective.
- Ultimately lead to contributions if they encourage and prepare for them. (N.B. This is still not a conversion to a paying customer.)
I have even seen a variation on the freeloader phenomenon in relation to the Google Summer of Code: projects that haven't participated before mistakenly want to get free labour for the summer. The Summer of Code is explicitly designed to enable computer science students to learn about open source software, to gain experience in real-world distributed software development work, and to hone their programming skills. It's about the students - not the labour. As the tagline says, "flip bits not burgers." The FOSS project itself certainly benefits with exposure, training their own project members as mentors, and if the project mentors do a good job, they gain committed new blood. But it's not about "getting free work."
It's really about the math of the situation. A number of people have observed over the years that contributions flowing into a FOSS project hold a particular pattern. For every thousand bug reports, a hundred developers will propose a solution in code. Ten will actually read the submission guidelines and fix the entire bug. One will provide a righteous fix and the contributor will have run the test harness provided, and their submission will include new test cases to prove it has been solved. This works for communities with large user bases like MySQL and sendmail right down to very specialized communities around such things as graphics drivers.
These observations set the tone for how to think about the vector, because to get a thousand bug reports, you probably need ten thousand users in your community. If the observations are accurate, 90% of every FOSS community must be users that don't contribute so much as a single bug report, i.e. they're freeloaders.
So, it is really about the project motivation. Developing good software is hard work and liberally sharing the software under FOSS licenses and building a community is the best way to spread the economic costs of development and gain inbound domain expertise. Furthermore, if you're a company that owns the actual IP for the software project, you gain the additional benefits (defined above) around developing an engaged community.
Contribution is the lifeblood of the FOSS project, so it needs to be easy to install/configure and use the software to build a broad community of users. It needs to be easy for users to understand how and what to contribute to improve the odds of contribution. If code is the inbound contribution, it needs to be easy for users to become code contributors. Such people need to know what to do, how to get started, and how to contribute. All of these activities are the project's responsibility. From the contribution flow, a project will find its future committers and maintainers to renew the core development community.
As a project community grows and thrives it will attract businesses that want to use the software and contribute. If the project developers meet the commercial needs for legal risk management, then an ecosystem can thrive around the FOSS project. This adds even more users to the community as companies participate, pulling the project software into new places.
So in the end, it's all about freeloaders, but from the perspective that you want as many as possible. That means you're "doing it right" in developing a broad base of users by making their experience easy, making it easy for them to contribute, and ultimately to create an ecosystem that continues to sustain itself. Freeloaders are essential to the growth and success of every FOSS project.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,394
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 300
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks 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. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jul. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 446
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 265
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,049
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
Jul. 30, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,155
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,270
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
Jul. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,182
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 28, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,761
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Jul. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,039
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jul. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,028
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Jul. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 320
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
Jul. 27, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,899
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
Jul. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,571
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 387
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Jul. 25, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,957
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
Jul. 25, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 460
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,533
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 25, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,485