Larry . . .

    follow me on Twitter

    My Events


    • You can find me at these upcoming events
    • 2010-07-21 to 2010-07-22 OSCON.
      I'll be at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) on Wednesday and Thursday. SugarCRM engineer John Mertic is speaking at OSCON.
    • 2010-07-28 AlwaysOn Summit at Stanford.
      Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies is moderating a panel session at the AlwaysOn Summit at Stanford including Marten Mickos, Swayne Hill, Treb Ryan, Lars Buytaert, and me. I'm looking forward to a great discussion.
    • 2010-09-27 to 2010-09-29 Paris Open Source ThinkTank.
      Olliance Open Source ThinkTanks are always great events, and I'll thrilled to be at the Paris event again this year.
    • 2010-09-30 to 2010-10-01 Open World Forum.
      I am speaking at the Open World Forum (OWF) in Paris on Oct 1, 2010. I am also a judge in the OWF Open Innovation Demo Cup. Be sure to submit your project before July 31 for consideration.
    • 2010-10-05 London CRM Acceleration.
      SugarCRM will hold a CRM Acceleration in London on October 5, 2010.
    • 2010-10-21 Munich CRM Acceleration.
      SugarCRM will hold a CRM Acceleration in Munich on October 21, 2010.
    • 2010-10-25 Cap Gemini Open Your Mind.
      I'm speaking in the Netherlands at Open Your Mind, an event sponsored by Cap Gemini on Open Source.

    (Some of) My Favorite People

    • Chris DiBona
      Chris is a just plain great person and stand-up guy. He's also the Open Source program manager at Google.
    • Doc Searls
      Doc is the senior editor at Linux Journal and one of the four authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, the iconoclastic web site that became the best-selling book.
    • Matt Asay
      Matt is the founder of OSBC, and currently runs business development at Alfresco.
    • r0ml Lefkowitz
      The r0ml is one of the most entertaining and insightful commentators on the state of the IT industry that I know.
    • Stephen Walli
      I first met Stephen when he worked at Microsoft, and I organized a dinner at OSCON between Eric Raymond and a number of the Microsoft Shared Source team. I liked him even then so that should tell you a lot.

    « Congress Moves to Support Open Source in Healthcare IT | Main | Actuate Open Source Survey Shows Europe Leads in Open Source Adoption »

    September 23, 2008

    TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:
    http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83455eabb69e2010534c17197970b

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Commercial Open Source in Europe Versus the US:

    Comments

    Mike Linksvayer

    Re Dual licensing business models.

    Aren't MySQL and Trolltech the canonical examples of this model? They're both European (or MySQL was until recent acquisition by Sun).

    All in all quite interesting contrast.

    Bruce Benson

    Hey Larry thanks for the take away notes. I wonder if the USA adoption reason of 'cost' as the primary reason is due a CIO methodology where many things can be inferred to have cost. Lock-in, source control, and a lot of other good reasons look good when the business case is assembled and a cost model is presented upstream for the adoption approval. Then it's "cost of vendor lock-in", "cost of technology control", "cost of..."

    Nomen Nescio

    Part of the European attitude to US Open Source offerings where there is a commercial or 'enterprise' edition offered by the same organisation as well, is to feel somewhat put out, as the suspicion is that Open Source offering is 'crippleware', designed to get you hooked into the product, ready to be milked by having to pay for the 'enterprise' version at a later stage.

    The 'services' model implies you get full functionality immediately, and the vendor makes money on hand-holding. One benefit of the services model is that ongoing support is an operational cost, and no capital is involved in the initial procurement. In accounting terms, that is very useful.

    Simplicio

    Michael B.

    From a software engineer's point of view, the US business model of a more product-centric (vs. service-centric) approach is more attractive, as it is more fun.
    I also agree with the scaling argument, startup stock options may make you rich if you are lucky and the product turns out to be a success, that probably won't happen in the service world where you have to actually do client work for every dollar you earn. ;)

    Btw., I am european, so I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

    Penguin Pete

    Thank you for the great research and analysis! This coincides with much that I have observed in dealings with clients in the US and UK.

    One factor I think that affects these attitudes, is that UK members are more interested in self-sufficiency and small business. In the US, it's like the attitude is "I don't know about this computer stuff, that's what we have billion-dollar corporations for. Let them worry about it and I'll just stay in this pasture and eat this grass."

    Alan

    "On the fact that most software is written on one side of the Atlantic Ocean" --Alan Kay

    jim_who

    "This contrasts with the US CIOs I talked with last week who were definitely more comfortable with getting their Open Source software from a vendor with a commercial license."

    WTF? How stupid can Americans be? Get your _open source_ from a _vendor_ with a _commercial license_ ? Wot ?!

    Why don't just buy a product that let's you have source code? Have these people been around the last 20 years?!

    They clearly don't get it, do they? Not only that, they are been sold an aold model with a new wrapping...

    Redhuan D. Oon

    This is ne of the most interesting blogs 1 can come across on the subjective nature of Commercial OSS vs Community OSS. It provides a simple yardstick to rein in the opposing thoughts on a single chart. Bravo Larry!

    red1
    founding peer of,
    The ADempiere Bazaar (Euro version)
    A Compiere Fork (US version)
    :-)

    Michael Towne

    Good observation! I think one of the factors that contribute to this is that there are more corporate-sponsored IP (aka copyright) policies and enforcements in the U.S. that eats away at the motivation of many to invest their time in Open Source. Few of monopolizing US software companies work against an atmosphere of mutually beneficial endeavors found in the rest of the world. And the population in the U.S. has been "tamed" to be mostly non-programmers. You could easily correlate the gradual enhancement of OS to the decreasing number of people interested in programming in the U.S. And also, the sense of ownership in the U.S. may have made more in the U.S. to be somewhat complacent.

    Patrick Finch

    Very interesting.

    I think that dual licensing may be perceived differently between B2B and B2C. I have never heard anyone complain about the fact that Java is dual-licensed, for example, on either side of the pond.


    @jim_who: open source under a commercial license can make a great deal of sense if you wish to extend the product but do not wish to open your own code. This is not a position I would generally advocate, but it is apparently appealing to some.


    Don Marti

    How much of the difference is because of company founders' previous industry experience? Does the US open source industry have more managers with proprietary software experience, and the European industry have more people with services or consulting backgrounds?

    Franck V.

    This is a well known difference between Europe and US.

    But there are some precisions to be made :
    1) some US players are moving to European way of OpenSource : Pentaho Inc. is one of them. Pentaho BI Suite 2.0 will be GPL.
    2) Commercial Licencing means usually service agreement. MySQL Commercial licencing is a service agreement and access to some proprietary tools. MySQL DB engine included in Commercial Licence is the GPL one, no special functions are added.
    3) precision 2) is true only for GPL products.

    Martin Schoch

    About cost vs. avoiding vendor lock-in:

    As a European who worked for a subsidiary of a US company in the last four years, I have the impression that this reflects a more general difference in corporate policy:

    My current, US owned employer seems to be most interested in short-term profit, sometimes at the expense of preparing for medium to long term challenges (anything that takes more than 2 years to yield a result). In this context "we pay less license fees now".

    European companies seem more willing to look at long term consequences and accept short term disadvantages to avoid long term headaches. As in "retraining cost will eat up the price advantage now, but we will be safe from future price hikes and product discontinuation".

    Justin Brooks

    I would be interested to know whether the attitude in other regions such as South America are in line with the European view. If so this would particularly bolster the 'local software industry' argument underlining the desire not to be beholden to the US proprietary software giants.

    Randal L. Schwartz

    "Get your _open source_ from a _vendor_ with a _commercial license_ ? "

    Yes, it's the "who do you sue/blame when it goes bad?" mentality. The US "management" style is all about short-term risk management, sacrificing long-term growth if needed.

    Some of my Perl customers are wary of downloading anything from the CPAN, simply because they wouldn't know who to sue if it broke something. So they reimplement the very same thing from scratch! It doesn't even help when I tell them "but but... you can vet every line of code... it's all open source!" Wild.

    ckeene

    The biggest single factor to explain these differences is the attitude towards Microsoft. In the US, where Microsoft is seen as a successful, if aggressive, competitor, adoption open source is a business decision, that is to say based on ROI.

    In the US, where Microsoft is seen as a malignant force, adoption of open source is seen as a political decision, that is to say based on and ideology that trumps business considerations.

    Viewed this way, the differences you describe are very consistent, particularly if you just insert the word Microsoft at strategic points.

    For example, on the first observation, the primary reason for adopting open source in Europe is to avoid [Microsoft] lock-in; while the primary reason in the US is cost, as Microsoft lock-in per se is not seen as a bad thing.

    Pierre Baudracco

    Good article, and I was at the eOSTT (hello Larry !), but I think one important point is missing. This is the european view for public sector only !
    The private sector in europe has nearly the same behaviour as what you describe here as the United states view. (At least this is what I see dealing with our obm product, public vs private behaviour)

    This can be explained by the maturity of some administration members but also by the fact that not going Open Source means going to proprietary and so sending great deal of money to the US with no economic value localy. And Open Source means technology independance.

    Arabic Translator

    The table is an interested comparison. To pick out a few points and comment:
    1. Vendor lock in is the Eurpoean reason. You are still 'locked in' when you choose any solution. The cost of change is large after you have succesfully implemented any solution (whether opensource of COTS).

    2. The basis for the Opensource phenomenon is that services can actually drive more revenue than code. If you are the defacto source for the code then you can control the knowledge associate with the most profitable services. This is a smart strategy. However it is position in the UK or the US - this is a major driver.


    Business Opportunities

    people in Europe that are happy with having a small company that just pays their bills (and not a mansion on top) are probably less known. So lets say, most of the guys that worked to be recognized in the business community might be suffering from this "envy". The rest are just happy that the stuff they love pays their bills without them having to become all too tangled in marketing and PR.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    My Companies


    • I am involved with these companies as an investor and board member.
    • Appcelerator
      Open Source platform that provides everything you need to build rich web, mobile and desktop applications. News
    • DotNetNuke
      Open Source framework for building websites and web applications on Microsoft ASP.NET. News
    • SugarCRM
      Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. I have been a board member and investor at SugarCRM since 2005 and CEO there since May 2009. News

    My Investments


    • I am an investor in and/or advisor to these companies.
    • Dasient
      Dasient is an an early-stage company that is solving next-generation security problems for the Internet. News
    • DeviceVM
      Embedded instant-on operating system for consumer devices. News
    • Eloqua
      On-line lead generation and marketing automation. News
    • Fonality
      Open Source VoIP PBX based on Asterisk. News
    • Funambol
      Funambol's vision is to make push email and mobile content/PIM sync easy between the largest number of smart & feature phones, the Internet cloud and popular desktop apps. News
    • Medsphere
      Open Source Electronic Health Record (EHR). News
    • MuleSource
      Mule is then world's most widely-used Open Source ESB and integration platform. News
    • Novara Clinical Research
      Novara Clinical Research operates dedicated facilities for conducting Phase II to Phase IV patient studies for the pharmaceutical industry. News
    • Pentaho
      Open Source Business Intelligence (BI). News
    • VirtualLogix
      Real-time virtualization for mobile devices. News
    • Vyatta
      Open Source router and firewall. News
    • WSO2
      Next generation Open Source Web services platform. News

    My Exits

    My Current Reading List

    • Robert Jordan: Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time, Book 11)

      Robert Jordan: Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time, Book 11)
      I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I'm still reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. When he passed L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth decology I could have cried. Maybe WoT will be made into the worst movie of all time? Still, I've been following the saga of Rand al'Thor for more than a decade now, and I want to see how it ends. Rumor is that the next book, Memory of Light, will in fact conclude the saga. To borrow a phrase, "There should have been only one." (**)

    • Neal Stephenson: Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)

      Neal Stephenson: Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)
      My family got me Quicksilver for Christmas. I'm not far into it, but it's clearly a Stephenson book: lots of historical connections, multiple timeline unfolding simultaneously, meticulous historical detail, 100 pages in the plot is still a total mystery, big "thud"factor... Should be a great read.

    • Chris DiBona: Open Sources 2.0

      Chris DiBona: Open Sources 2.0
      Anything edited by Chris DiBona is worth spending the time to read.

    • David Kahn: The Codebreakers : The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet

      David Kahn: The Codebreakers : The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet
      I'm just getting started with this one, but so far it's a fascinating account of the history of cryptology. It's a massive 1200 pages, so it may be a while before I move on to something else.