Benefits and Pitfalls of Open Source in Commercial Contexts
Jiayin Hang (Siemens Business Services GmbH & Co. OHG, Germany), Heidi Hohensohn (Siemens Business Services GmbH & Co. OHG, Germany), Klaus Mayr (IFS IT GmbH, Germany) and Thomas Wieland (University of Applied Sciences Coburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2005
This chapter intends to show how companies can benefit from open source software and its development culture and how the open source communities could, in turn, be stimulated and accelerated. One of the first major steps for businesses that plan to act in this context is to accept that open source projects have their own communication culture. After explaining this fact, we illustrate its relevance on the basis of a case study in which an open source framework was used to build a commercial product. The decision-making process and the lessons learned from it point out some guidelines, particularly for companies that offer projects rather than products. As there are, however, more parties involved than just the developers when OSS is discussed as a business opportunity, we also classify the different players in the software business such as distributors, system integrators, and software/hardware vendors. Findings on roles and their motivations and restraints, partially based on a survey carried out within our research project, point up this categorization. The authors hope that this overview of the benefits and pitfalls will encourage more companies to make use of and invest in the open source way to develop and deploy software.