The commercialization of Open Source always seems to open a lively debate. The past decade has given us several examples of companies that commercialize Open Source in ways that don’t always sit well with their respective communities.
I don’t for one second believe that the commercialization of Nagios is bad. It all comes down to how you commercialize and how you wield your power and influence. What are our plans for commercialization of Nagios? At the moment we’re focusing on the launch of annual support plans for Nagios – scheduled for availability on June 8th. This is a very exciting step forward for us, and it will allow us to do some really great things for the project and community.
In the past few weeks I’ve seen, heard and discussed a wide variety of thoughts related to commercialization of Nagios and my and Nagios Enterprises’ involvement in it.
Some people have told me they think I shouldn’t pursue any commercialization with Nagios because it would create competition for the other companies that are commercializing it. I’m not joking – its unbelievable. To that possibility I say “Great!”. Long live competition, free markets, and consumer choice.
Some have said that commercialization would taint the project. They believe that generating revenue around a project creates a conflict of interest. And yet they want more effort and resources made available to the project as it continues to grow over time. Conflicts of interest can and do exist, but this argument is somewhat akin to your employer saying this to you:
“We really value the services you provide to our company and think that what you do here is critical to our ongoing success. Thus, we believe that paying you to work here would present a conflict of interest for us. To protect the integrity of your job, your paycheck is hereby suspended indefinitely.”
Others are worried that my involvement in commercialization will reduce my availability in terms of continuing development. That’s true – it can and has. That’s why I need to transition roles. And at some point in the future I will move on from Nagios completely. That’s reality. But I won’t abandon Nagios and leave it in a lurch. I’ll make sure it’s in capable hands before I move on to something else.
Some may worry that commercialization of Nagios means that a closed, proprietary version of Nagios is on the horizon. If Nagios Enterprises LLC, Nagios Inc., or some later incarnation of this company ever does that with Nagios, please fork the code and run like hell with it. You’ll have my wholehearted support.
Others, like me, believe that commercialization can bring great benefits to the project. So what are some of the good things that can come from commercialization? Some real gains for the project – including time, people, and resources. Support and training services for those who want them. Perhaps an appliance. These things can provide benefits not only to the project and community, but to other folks who are either less tech savvy that you or I or simply don’t have the time to do everything on their own.
For an excellent example of commercial Open Source gone right, check out the OpenNMS project (http://www.opennms.org) and The OpenNMS Group, Inc (http://www.opennms.com). Tarus Balog and the crew of OpenNMS provide us with great examples of how commercialization of Open Source can benefit everyone – including a project and its community. They provide professional services, contribute to development, and sponsor yearly DevJam events (developer get-togethers). Kudos to them!
I have ten years of my life invested in Nagios. My personal reputation and integrity are on the line with what happens in regards to commercialization. You have my word that we at Nagios Enterprises will do our best to do right by and for the community.