Open Source Product Strategy

Open Source Product Strategy

I used these slides to set context for a discussion about product strategy in an open source ecosystem at the Internet Identity Workshop 30.


Richard Esplin

April 30, 2020


  1. enses/by-sa/4.0/ Open Source Product Strategy Richard Esplin April 2020

  2. Context For Discussion

  3. Self-sovereign-identity-ssi- Open-source- richard-esplin-webinar-16/ SSI Meetup

  4. Free Software Libre Software Open Source Software FLOSS

  5. Open Source is not a religion Open source is a

    public good (as in economics), And is good karma (as in ethics), And has a tribe that tries to enforce norms.
  6. The Four Freedoms 0. Run the program for any purpose.

    1. Study how the program works. 2. Redistribute the program. 3. Improve the program, and redistribute the improvements.
  7. Open Source Definition 1. Free Redistribution 2. Source Code Availability

    3. Derived Works Allowed 4. Integrity of the Author’s Source Code 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups 6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor 7. Distribution of License 8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product 9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software 10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral
  8. Commercial Open Source Provides customers with: • A focus on

    support • Vendor independence • Vendor risk mitigation • An improved negotiating position • Compliance with policy • Fast adoption (no purchase necessary!) • An ancillary social benefit And has a reputation for: • Low price • Security • Innovation • Transparency • Interoperability
  9. Open Source is Good for Business • Grow the ecosystem

    in which we sell • Drive adoption of standards • Foster innovation by leveraging community contributions • Encourage 3rd party contributions that can benefit customers • Increase the difficulty of competitive followers in bootstrapping a business • Gain brand recognition and community marketing • Grow customer goodwill and loyalty • Be an on-ramp to paid offerings
  10. Strategic Tools

  11. Open Core is a Balance Adoption Upsell

  12. Open Business Models Pure Play Source Available Everything is open

    source Revenue comes tangentially: support, hosting, training Source is available. Development is public. License is proprietary. Open Core Parts are open, parts are closed. Revenue comes from upsell to proprietary features.
  13. Types of Licenses Open Source Gift Apache Sharing with Rules

    GPL In-Between LGPL Bruce Perens, 2009 Source Available Time based BSL All rights except . . . CCL, SSPL Mixed open and closed Elastic License
  14. Types of Licenses Source Available, but not Open Source 1.

    Time based BSL: Business Source License (MariaDB) 2. All rights except . . . CCL: Confluent Community License (Confluent) SSPL: Server Side Public License (Mongo) 3. Mixed open and closed Elastic License
  15. Project Control Community Governance Corporate Governance • Multiple copyright holders

    • Anyone can merge • Community consensus process Pros: • Broad adoption Cons: • Hard to achieve alignment • Susceptible to “tragedy of the commons” (lack of polish) • Single copyright holder (CLA) • Restricted merge rights • Corporate vision Pros: • Customer focus Cons: • Often narrows use cases • If you disagree, you have to fork
  16. Effective Open Core Differentiation • Pay attention to the incentives:

    Cooperation vs Competition • Horizontal vs Vertical: Horizontal drives adoption, Vertical drives value • Technical difficulty: Easy stuff will just be replaced