Thoughts on Open Source Projects

March 25, 2014

in Engineering, Marketing, Product Management

“Open source is not code dumped on the internet. Open source is a living, breathing organism. It is community, code, systems, and continual improvements.”
-Gallagher Pryor, CTO of ArrayFire

I’ve written before about open source business models. At ArrayFire we have started to open source useful additions to our acceleration library.

At GTC 2014 this week, I have enjoyed several conversations on the topic of open source and models for achieving strong business success through monetization of open source. I am grateful to those who took the time to speak with me this week.

Here are some thoughts that occur to me while discussing open source projects:

  • It is an irreversible move. Once you go open source, there is no going back to closed source.
  • It is a stark move. Once you go open source, all direct license revenue stops (including all the deals currently in the pipeline).
  • You can test the waters with open source by slowly opening tangential elements of a product and building community around those components. If a reasonable community arises out of that initial step, then it is easier to proceed with confidence knowing that the community with strengthen as more components are released. If no one is willing to be part of your community, then open sourcing is likely not beneficial.
  • There are two kinds of open source models that work:
    • the kind where the community contributes useful code and the project becomes very “common”
    • the kind where the community does not contribute much code, but they use the product and contribute great feedback

There are sufficient numbers of ArrayFire users that have decided to form their own user group. We are excited by this development and look forward to attending the first ArrayFire Users Group meeting on Thursday at 12:30pm in room 210E of the San Jose Convention Center.

What are your thoughts on open source projects?


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