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MySQL Journal Authors: Greg Schulz, Cloud Best Practices Network, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Elizabeth White, Jnan Dash

Related Topics: Java EE Journal, Apache Web Server Journal, Open Source Journal, MySQL Journal

J2EE Journal: Article

Open Source Business Models Examined

The Role of the Membership Model in the Open Source Movement

ObjectWeb is a bit more open than OSDL. Membership is free. Corporate members join for only ¤1.000. As of March 10, 2005, it had 48 corporate or non-profit members and 1,458 individual members. Its mailing lists are sent to 7,926 persons worldwide of which 157 are in China. It has a development portal called the "Forge" used by 5,712 registered users for 109 projects. Each month its Web sites are visited by about 150,000 unique IP addresses.

To many people, Eclipse is an IBM front. It bills itself as an open platform for tool integration built by an open community of tool providers. Eclipse (www.eclipse.org) competes with NetBeans from Sun. In the battle of the downloads, Sun boasts 4.6 million downloads for NetBeans while Eclipse pegs its downloads at 50 million. We'll have to dig a little deeper into these numbers to understand what, if anything, they mean.

Eclipse has a clever fee structure, and charges more than OSDL and ObjectWeb. To become a Strategic Developer, organizations must have at least eight (8) developers assigned full-time to developing Eclipse technology and pay annual fees of 0.12% of revenue with a $250,000 ceiling. Actuate, BEA, Borland, CA, IBM, Intel, Iona, Nokia, Scapa Technologies, Sybase Inc., and Wind River count themselves as Strategic Developers. Strategic Consumers must pay 0.2% of revenues with a $500,000 ceiling, but can decrease their fees by providing one or two developers, reducing their fees by $125K for each developer with a floor of $50K. If anyone can explain to us the difference between these two designations, please send me an email. Members called committers must be nominated by another committer, and have "write access" to all the content of Eclipse, and don't pay annual fees. Over 90% of the committers are full-time paid employees of member companies. Strategic Consumers include MontaVista Software, HP, SAP AG, and Serena Software.

Another interesting category of member is the Add-in Providers. To earn this designation, a company must have an Eclipse-based offering or commit to making such an offering available within 12 months of joining. And Add-in Providers are required to publicly announce their support for Eclipse. The annual membership fee for Add-in Providers is $5,000. Add-in Providers include Accelerated Technology, Acucorp, Agitar, Aldon, Aonix, AvantSoft, Catalyst Systems Corporation, CollabNet, Compuware, DataMirror, DDC-I, Discovery Machine, Embarcadero Technologies, ENEA, Ericsson, ETRI, Exadel, Fujitsu, Genitech, Genuitec, Hitachi, ILOG, INNOOPRACT, Inpriva, Instantiations, International Technology Group, iWay Software, JasperSoft, JBoss, Kinzan, Klocwork, Logic Library, Lombardi Software, M1 Global, M7 Corporation, Macromedia, Mercury, META-1, Micro Focus, MKS, mValent, NEC, Novell, NTT Comware, OC Systems, Omondo, Optena Corporation, Oracle, PalmSource, Parasoft Corporation, Pegasystems, Progress Software, QNX Software Systems, Real-Time Innovations, Red Hat, SAS, Secure Software, SlickEdit, Soft Landing Systems, Teamstudio, Technologic Arts, Telelogic, Tensilica, Texas Instruments, THALES, TimeSys, Unisys, VA Software, Versata, Wasabi Systems, and webMethods.

Finally, Eclipse has Associate Members. Associate Members must be a standards organization, research institution, academic institution, open source organization, or publishing organization that participates in the development of the Eclipse ecosystem. There are no membership dues required for Associate Members, that include ACM Queue, Addison Wesley, BZ Media, CMA (Communications and Media Arts), Fawcette Technical Publications Inc., Eclipse Plugin Central, Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS), Object Management Group, Inc., ObjectWeb, OpenSystems Publishing, RTC Group, SocialPhysics, and Tsinghua University.

Eclipse boasts an impressive board including Bechauf (SAP AG), Ed Cobb (BEA), Sam Greenblatt (CA), Jonathan Khazam (Intel), Michael J. Rank (HP), and yet another Dave Thomson from IBM.

Though the Eclipse business model is indeed clever, we wonder if they have properly named their members.

The Membership Model is an important part of the vitality of the Open Source movement. The leading membership organizations are well funded and organized and provide important technical advances. But they owe their existence to political, not economic, factors. When these political forces recede, so will the importance of the membership organizations.

Next month, we will look at the Conversion Model again and discuss how companies such as mySQL, Jboss, and Open-Xchange are doing.

More Stories By Paul Sterne

Paul L. Sterne is general manager, Americas, Open-Xchange Inc. (www.open-xchange.com), and managing partner, Sterne & Co. LLC, an M&A boutique specializing in technology deals. His most recent transaction: the acquisition of Protocom Development Ltd. by ActivCard Inc. He is a sponsor of openResource, a wiki about the Open Source industry (http://sterneco.editme.com/home).

More Stories By Nicholas Herring

Nicholas Herring is an associate, Sterne & Co. LLC, and a contributor to the openResource wiki. He has a Bachelors in Business Administration from The George Washington University.

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