I've spent a lot of time recently, trying to understand open source models, and how they cover their costs. I personally love open source, and the community around it.

But - I think many of us have a tacit understanding of Open Source, and how it works, and I thought I'd try and put that down in writing. Without understanding how it works now, I think it's hard to consider how it should work in the future.

I'm interested in your thoughts, please feel free to reach out on twitter!

Open Source Models

High Corporate Heritage / Low Corporate Ownership - Created as Exhaust - A byproduct of the work an organisation needs to do, to get their job done. For example, Spinnaker was created by Netflix to deliver software, and was later adopted by Google. Bootstrap is one of the most used web frameworks, and was called “Twitter Blueprint” before being open sourced externally.

Low Corporate Heritage / Low Corporate Ownership - Left to run free - Intentionally created by individuals or foundations with an eye to open sourcing from the-get go. This tends to lead to a collegiate development process, with heavy not-for-profit links. For example, the Apache Software foundation maintains Kafka, and the Linux Foundation grows Linux.

High Corporate Heritage / High Corporate Ownership - Pushed from the front - Sponsored and supported by a corporation or enterprise with a vested interest in the success of a technology. For example, Docker and Elastic search promote an open source community, but broadly speaking, they own the roadmap and the development of the software.

Low Corporate Heritage / High Corporate Ownership - Pushed to the side - A corporation that has a vested interest in the success of a technology, but wants the open source community to buy-in to it. For example, the .NET foundation was created by Microsoft to contribute and own the .NET framework, including related projects like C# .NET core.

How do they cover their costs?

High Corporate Heritage / Low Corporate Ownership - Created as Exhaust - Generally initial corporate coverage, then when the product no longer has corporate usage, it either gets adopted by an open source community, or it dies.

Low Corporate Heritage / Low Corporate Ownership - Left to run free - These projects are generally not-for-profits, relying on donations, academic grants, and sponsorship from enterprises that use the software.

High Corporate Heritage / High Corporate Ownership - Pushed from the front - Funds from the corporation producing the software - commonly the corporation provides a SaaS cloud hosting option, or requests donations for paid features.

Low Corporate Heritage / High Corporate Ownership - Pushed to the side - Generally the corporation is trying to use the software to promote another aim - such as Azure Cloud Revenue, or the use of AWS. The corporation funds the project to indirectly support the aim.