If you usually follow the growth stages of open source solutions, I bet that you have ever read the article named List of 16 open-source business models in 2012 written by Peter Groen and Roger A. Maduro. Although from 2016 until now, the number, of course, will grow, the key strategy to follow will still not too different. Never afraid of mixing and matching elements from the different models is so good but be careful with trying to create something brand new. That said, it had better look at some successful business models of apply open source solutions:
- The Professional Services Model
It can be said that this model still has the software completely open-source; however, with some services such as consulting, installation, support and training will be only available for a fee. In fact, consulting service will include the management and implementation of the software within specific industries. You can check the case of Red Hat, that is one of the most typical examples
- The Software-as-a-Service Model
Software-as-a-Service Model or Saas Model sees your software as a centrally hosted service that is only accessible through a paid subscription. Subscriptions are usually user, transaction volume, or time-based. SugarCRMs and Heroku follow Saas model they offer a platform solution, rather than a software solution.
- The Open Core Model
The core software of this model still remains open-source, which is similar to the Professional Services model and in the future, it will continue to be developed. However, there will be a fee for some special features and modules extending or enhancing the core product. You can look at the case of Talend, they use the open core model to sell value added features for core modules.
- The Proprietary Software Model
You know the term GPL? It tells you that the source code of any program that uses GPLed parts needs to be made available under the same license terms. That sounds quite problematic for any companies requiring your open source solutions projects to integrate with their proprietary software. There is a solution for this issue that is developing a closed-source version that is similar to your OSS version (note: no GPL libraries or source code).
- The Drug Pusher Model
Unlike Proprietary Software Model, in this model, the open-source version will continue to be developed and updated. The developers working with this model follow popular myth persists that creating initially a market by providing their products for free, and once the customers are hooked, switching to charging exorbitant prices. After establishing a niche, the open source solutions project is completely abandoned, and a version similar to the open source solutions project is now only available commercially.
Making a sound decision in choosing business model or open source solutions will never be a simple task. Nothing is perfect from the beginning and shifting to a completely different model later on will put your entire client-base at risk; however, change is an adventure but beneficial. Remember that the change is not just for you, it is for your customers as well.