Open Business

Submitted by kattekrab on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 09:20
Open Business - Laptop surrounded by icons on a light teal background - lightbulb, envelope, compass, castle, flask, hourglass, rocket and others.

Non disclosure agreements, closely held ownership, and elusive secrets to success are almost cliched hallmarks of the start up world of innovation and entrepreneurship. But it is the "in the open" accessible world of open source software that has driven the new reality we find ourselves living in.  Many people started working remotely last year due to the pandemic. Enabled by readily accessible technology, most people may not be aware how much of that tech is built upon foundations powered by open source software.
The "Anniversary of Open" is a perfect prompt to reflect on what Open Business means. Beyond the source code itself, it is the communities of people connecting with each other, and creating something together that have shown us a different way to work, to think, and to make a living.  To me, Open Business describes an ecosystem in constant evolution.  In healthy ecosystems, many organisms cohabitate and rely on common resources to survive.
By publishing the Open Organisation, Jim Whitehurst, with support of others at Red Hat, opened wide the doors on what was happening inside the world's most successful Open Source Business, and since then, a whole community has evolved around the 5 key principles of Open Organisations:

Open Organization Logo

  • Transparency
  • Inclusivity
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Community


15 years ago, organisations like Open Source Industry Australia, were concerned about policy directions locking us out of government.  Today, Governments around the world have not only embraced the use of Open Source, but are also actively contributing to the creation and maintenance of software as public infrastructure, in collaboration with major technology enterprises.

There used to be a lot of discussion on the business model of open source, we seem to hear that less often now.  Service, support, and subscriptions have proven to be sustainable sources of income for businesses, and for free software developers.  We may still have some way to go before all free software maintainers are fairly compensated for their time, but I'd wager there's little remaining doubt about the value of Open Business. 

This was written in response to a request from Cesar Brod to comment on this @lpiconnect article "Who's building businesses around free and open source software" by Andy Oram celebrating the 2oth anniversaries of several key open source projects.


Image: "Gamification in Business Illustration Web" by Disertal, and Pressureua and modified by me is licensed CC BY SA