|By Simon Phipps||
|August 27, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
A guest asked a question that often crops up; 'Sun is giving so much source-code to open source (Project Looking Glass and Solaris the most recent announcements), how will it ever monetize these donations - how can you make money if you keep giving stuff away?' It's a good question. At its heart lies a misunderstanding about the nature of open source software, and once that's cleared up everything falls into place much more easily. The paradox - profiting from what is given away - is actually one many of us participate in every day in another area of our lives.
Open Source Development in Overview
Open source software development is best defined using the phrase coined by Professor Yochai Benkler - "commons-based peer production". Open source development uses a pool of software assets that is held in common by a community - termed a 'commons' by Professor Lawrence Lessig - which is enhanced and expanded over time. The community is comprised of peer experts of all kinds, each with a status reflecting only their abilities - age, previous achievements elsewhere, employer or external factors such as race or politics should be irrelevant. The community is focussed on production of software - "code talks, talk doesn't code".
Then for each aspect there is a facilitator.
- The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the rights that the community needs to function. The license will offer unrestricted access to the source code that comprises the commons, unrestrained by either payment requirements (gratis) or usage restrictions (libre).
The peer nature of the community is facilitated by the governance model of the community. This is often overlooked but it's just as important as the license. Good governance will for example result in the power to permanently change the contents of the commons (the power to 'commit' changes, exercised by a 'committer') being held only by those the community respects as best qualified.
The key to quality thus lies in governance. Bill Joy pointed out that no-one can hire all the smart people; open source development gathers them together and recognises the smartest as committers. The quality of good open source software comes not from many hands being involved but from the best being given the keys to the commons.
- The production of software from the commons is facilitated both by the license and the governance.
It's worth noting that the focus of an open source community is development - none of the freedoms required of a software deployer (such as strict compatibility with externally-defined standards, essential if the freedom to switch to a different software solution is to be preserved) are explicit objectives. All the time that open source software has been the preserve of developer-deployers there's been no issue, but as it becomes more widely used by deployers with no interest in development, the need for new ways to provide deployers with their necessary freedoms will grow.
What freedoms do deployers need? They're actually rather traditional:
- Function that meets actual business needs
- Freedom to change supplier, so that prices can always be negotiated
- Freedom to choose new software solutions as business needs evolve
- Control of the data, by implication control of the format it's stored in
- Protection from liabilities associated with the development of the software
Software derived from an open source community may or may not meet these requirements. For many companies, there has been an initial rush based on the abilities of skilled and visionary employees to obtain software gratis from open source communities but increasingly CIOs are realizing this doesn't secure all the freedoms they need for long-term business. They're turning to commercial suppliers to act as their intermediaries with the open source communities - "they join the community so we don't have to."
Just Like The Newspapers
The model Sun is developing for giving customers the benefits they need using open source is illustrated well by Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS). JDS comprises many software elements drawn from a wide range of open source communities. To understand what's happening, let's consider the newspaper industry.
Newspapers haven't been killed off by the Internet (at least, not yet!). The reason for this is that when we buy a newspaper, we're not buying the news. These days the news is free (gratis) - we can go online and read newsfeeds from organizations like Reuters or the Associated Press, or original reporting from an organization like the BBC. When I buy a newspaper like 'USA Today' or 'The Independent', I am actually buying an editorial style. The editor-in-chief for the newspaper sets the outlook, and then the editors and other staff select the news stories, phrase the reports, position them in the publication and perform the lay-out in support of that editorial outlook. If I go online to get the news, I have to do the work of selecting and filtering the news, and I may not always be aware of the biases of the source I am using. To get an aggregation of the news I want delivered in a style that helps me and with biases I understand, I subscribe to a newspaper.
JDS is just like this. Almost all the elements that comprise it - the Mozilla browser, the Evolution mail and calendar client, the StarOffice document productivity suite, the underlying GNU/Linux operating system they depend on, the Gnome desktop environment they use and much more - come from open source communities. You could go get all those parts yourself - they are all available gratis. But then you'd have to integrate them yourself, support them yourself, accept joint liability for their use of ideas yourself.
Instead, Sun acts like the editor-in-chief of the JDS 'publication.' Staff select the software components to include and exclude, work to integrate them, constribute to each of the open source communities to improve their compatibility and completeness. Sun packages and delivers the final publication, offers support and updates, fixes security exposures, offers indemnity and generally joins the communities so you don't have to.
You don't buy the software from Sun - instead you subscribe to the editorial outlook. Sun's editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining. If that's an editorial outlook that fits your corporate needs, you'd do well to subscribe.
To take the analogy further, you're not just subscribing to a publication that's tightly bound together between stitched hard-covers. JDS is more like a publication delivered in a ring-binder on punched paper. You're free to insert extra pages - add software like Wine to allow existing Windows applications to run, for example. You're free to remove pages you don't need. You're free to substitute pages where you have another preference (maybe you'd rather use the new Firefox browser?)
Resolving the Paradox
Perhaps it's clearer now why Sun donates software to open source communities. It's not a matter of 'giving away'. Instead, Sun is joining with the other smart folks out there and contributing to the commons of many communities to create and enhance the pool of software from which 'publications' such as JDS are then derived. Sun has always believed that business success comes not from eliminating competitors or always 'coming first' but from creating marketplaces in which Sun and others can all succeed - "a rising tide lifts all boats."
There will be other 'publications' you could choose - you could even assemble your own if you wish. But the right editorial outlook at the right subscription price will allow Sun to monetize its software investment more effectively than a closed sale of a sealed product ever could in our new, massively connected society.
|Pierre-Yves Gibello 08/31/04 12:54:34 PM EDT|
French translation of this article on http://gibello.com/publi/transl/articles/linuxworld_270804_sun_os.html
Any comments are welcome, before I eventually make this URL more public for french readers.
|clarifier 08/29/04 03:01:15 AM EDT|
I was just corrected on the definition of "non-exclusive" in a license, and I am wrong in my assumption.
Can't delete my post, so I'm admitting my mistake.
|clarifier 08/28/04 06:58:04 PM EDT|
Ahh, but the GPL is not a "non exclusive" license - the exclusivity of it is that you must agree to abide by it's rules. This excludes those who wish to not pass on the work they have benefited from, charge fess and or licenses, etc.
As such, your point is moot.
|cybervegan 08/28/04 06:01:24 PM EDT|
We will see. IBM (and hundreds of other F/OSS companies) wouldn't be betting the farm on it if it was that unclear - they have very smart lawyers whose bread and butter is Licenses and Contracts, so if they don't understand it better than you (unless you are a lawyer), they're in the wrong job.
I won't be posting any more replies to this thread as you're obviously just trolling.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 03:40:58 PM EDT|
> The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a
OK I admit it's a LICENSE...
Here's what the Federal Appellate Courts hold about your
"Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a nonexclusive
See the "Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a
Presumably someone wishes the GPL to be enforcable... so its
Perhaps you should contact the Second, Fifth and Ninth
|cybervegan 08/28/04 02:41:19 PM EDT|
>Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
If it's the GPL you are referring to, then you are totally mistaken. The GPL depends copyright law, but does not alter or circumvent it in any way. Copyright law says that without written permission from the copyright owner, you have no rights to duplicate or otherwise reproduce a copyrighted work (apart from the notion of 'fair use') or to produce derivative works of it. Copyright is not an 'applied for' right (like patents) - it is automatic , and immediately granted upon the fixing of a work in tangible form (i.e. you can't copyright thoughts, only an 'impression' of them).
GPL software is copyrighted just like any other work. You have no rights under standard copyright law to copy it or form derivatives. The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a contract) and grants you additional rights providing that you accept its terms - these additional rights include those of copying and deriving new works. As long as you accept the terms, and do not breach any of its conditions, you are entitled to exercise the additional rights that it grants you. You must, however, release any copies or derivatives under the same license terms, so that no-one is ever able to remove the existing rights of others to a GPL'ed work. In this way, it operates similarly to any other license agreement or EULA - without which you would have no right to use any licensed software. If copyright law worked the way you suggest, then no-one would ever be able to use any copyrighted material for any reason whatsoever - clearly not what the law is intended to mean.
Because it is a LICENSE, there is no requirement for payment. Unlike a contract, nothing needs to be signed, and nothing needs to be exchanged. Also, there is no expectation on the part of the LICENSOR for any consideration in respect of the LICENSE. The license also only comes into operation at the point at which you "distribute" a copy or derivative, meaning that you can keep as many personal copies or make personal derivatives as you like, but once you distribute, you have an obligation to provide the source-code upon request. It really is that simple - and so say the courts, too, both internationally and in the US.
There is nothing illegal or unenforceable about the GPL.
Hope that helps.
|Alex Theodore 08/28/04 01:45:40 PM EDT|
I don''t think Sun has a lot to loose by going to the subscription based software model. When were they really making lots of money from selling Solaris? Buying Solaris was sort of a give me when purchasing one of their big boxes. I mean who really runs Sparc Linux on a Sun Fire?
For the past few years they have basically been giving away Solaris ($99 CD media kit)? Then Sun moved to a free downloads of Solaris on their website. Where Sun has been making fists full of money (in my opinion) is the support fees. Having a Sun Spectrum Silver (or better) support account entitles you a RTU for Solaris on your supported systems, contract/public updates, etc.. So in essence this is pretty much the same thing as a JDS subscription. I guess the difference lies that now you can poke around in the source, and the community can contribute fixes/features.
So I guess I don''t see all they hype.. seems like the same stuff, just repackaged... perhaps I don''t get it.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 08:30:00 AM EDT|
>The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the
Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
|been there, done that 08/27/04 02:36:26 PM EDT|
This is not an original idea - even in the software world.
Microsoft for many years has already sold countless subscriptions to their MSDN.
Of course the OS is, itself, a subscription with ''issues'' every 2-3 years..
95, 98, 2000, etc..
|Rajesh Jayaprakash 08/27/04 12:01:31 PM EDT|
Somehow, I am not convinced. It''s all very well to talk of a subscription-based business model, but I don''t think Sun can hope to gain a lot of revenue from something like the Java Desktop System (BTW, I consider Sun''s using ''Java'' in a product that has nothing to with Java pretty despicable, but hey, it''s their trademark). There are plenty of distros that already offer the goodies in the JDS [*]. May be I am missing something here, but I fail to see what differentiates Sun from other such vendors (other than the fact that Sun can call it the ''Java'' Desktop System).
Re: "Sun''s editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining." Nope, nothing unique here. If you remove Sun''s name from the above sentence and replace it with, say, Red Hat''s, nobody would notice.
|cybervegan 08/27/04 11:33:04 AM EDT|
Why has SUN been so inconsistent about its F/OSS alignment? It appears very "now we we will, now we won''t" at times.
Furthermore, why is the GPL nature of SUN JDS so stealthily hidden on the distribution CD? Why is the language used in the License so vague? Anyone buying this product would assume that they don''t have a right to the source code *or* to copy the software. Most of the operating system is GNU licensed, and a small proportion is SUN owned, so we understand that those bits we can''t copy, but why does SUN have to mislead people in this way, or has this changed?
SUN may have given us OpenOffice, and for that we''re thankful (the measure of how thankful is the continued development and improvement of it). At one point, I thought SUN had actually "got it" about F/OSS. I recently downloaded the SUN Java Runtime Environment, and read the License. Talk about invasive.
Pamela Jones of Groklaw.net said of the SUN Java Desktop: "There are so many restrictions that the license requires a booklet of amendments listing all the other things you can''t do under this or that special circumstance. The wording, he says, is unusually complex, and he suggests you have your legal eagles look the license over before you even consider making a buying recommendation on it. "
Makes you wonder. The F/OSS community will not praise SUN for such plundering - it seems that SUN is disregarding the very community it is taking from to produce the Java Desktop.
What a shame.
|MyDreamComeTrue 08/27/04 07:06:16 AM EDT|
So, after Solaris from Sun is open-sourced, all we need now is for MSFT to open up the file formats for Word documents so that programs like OpenOffice can correctly decode the formatting and we''ll all be waltzing toward the new promised land
Mr Simon Phipps, we like the sound of this!!
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
Jan. 23, 2017 09:00 AM EST Reads: 5,502
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
Jan. 23, 2017 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,373
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Jan. 23, 2017 07:00 AM EST Reads: 6,965
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Jan. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EST Reads: 2,153
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Jan. 23, 2017 03:00 AM EST Reads: 1,050
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 23, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 5,045
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
Jan. 23, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 3,392
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
Jan. 23, 2017 02:00 AM EST Reads: 6,672
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Jan. 23, 2017 01:45 AM EST Reads: 2,807
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.
Jan. 23, 2017 12:00 AM EST Reads: 5,899
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Jan. 22, 2017 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,067
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 22, 2017 07:45 PM EST Reads: 3,889
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 22, 2017 03:15 PM EST Reads: 1,706
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 22, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 3,773
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 22, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,313
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jan. 22, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,850
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Jan. 22, 2017 01:45 PM EST Reads: 3,248
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Jan. 22, 2017 01:00 PM EST Reads: 4,404
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
Jan. 22, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,704
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 @...
Jan. 22, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,984