I read an interesting blog post by the always interesting Matt Aslett of the 451 Group today. he makes some interesting points about the “Jerry Maguire” concept of open source – a lot of small businesses focusing closely on a much smaller client base.
Now, in theory this makes sense, but to me this is more of a Rousseau-like utopian vision of the world than a viable model for the software industry to follow.
I think, instead of this concept applying to the open source provider, it makes more sense to see this viability for small partners and other side businesses that pop up around the open source project or provider.
Scalability is an important thing, and I’d be lying if I said SugarCRM has zero growing pains. (In this economy, growing pains are a welcomed problem!) But I think the project-powered enterprise in the commercial open source SugarCRM case is a little different. Because SugarCRM is the main source for the core project code and not an aggregator, it must scale and grow – becoming a global organization to support the awesome community that has grown up around the central project.
That way, SugarCRM can be a central force, with lots of third parties benefitting. These can be independent consultants, full-scale SI firms, ISVs leveraging the 5.x platform, etc.
So, while the concept of a better proportion of customer-to-vendor relations is great in theory, I’d argue that this works better for open source aggregators, support providers, and partners of commercial open source vendors. There is a lot of opportunity here to go around.
After all, do you really want to base your business model on something this guy said?