|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.
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Oct. 24, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,044
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,884
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,570
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 778
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 962
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,344
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 755
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 881
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Oct. 23, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 11,352
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Oct. 23, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,273
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Oct. 23, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,584
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Oct. 23, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 985
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 Arch...
Oct. 23, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,994
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
Oct. 23, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,290
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Oct. 23, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,111
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Oct. 23, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,722
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Oct. 23, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,077
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
Oct. 23, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,014
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
Oct. 23, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 818
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Oct. 23, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,480