Network World is running a guest article Open Source Software Licenses versus Business Models by Outercurve Foundation’s technical director Stephen Walli discussing how FOSS license choice can affect a company’s business model. In Open Source Software Licenses versus Business Models article Walli disagrees that a FOSS license dictates the business model or that the business model dictates the license. It’s not about the choice of license — it’s about solving customer problems.
Red Hat packages an asset that they neither own nor control. They surround the kernel with considerable other software. They support and warrant their product solution.
MySQL AB (the company) built and packaged the MySQL database engine. Their MySQL Network was a subscription “product” that ensured the MySQL database product was supported and warranted. Because they owned their software, the had a healthy secondary revenue stream from licensing the MySQL database to others without attaching the GPLv2 license of the public version.
In both cases, the FOSS project was licensed under the GPLv2, but asset control and ownership dictated how very different billion-dollar businesses were built rather than the license.
IBM doesn’t control or own the Apache projects. A number of Apache projects are key components in the IBM proprietary Websphere platform. The Apache license allows people to use the software in any manner they choose, including closing it into proprietary products.
Many companies are now developing proprietary products on and around the Eclipse platform while others happily deliver software extensions for their own programming platforms licensed under open source licenses (e.g. Intel and Tizen and Amazon and Android).
License choice is an important consideration when making open source software. To help to make the right source in that read A Short Guide To Open-Source And Similar Licenses and Comparison of free and open-source software licenses.