Open Source Business Models and Strategies

Research, Articles, and White Papers

about Open Source in general

about Open Source business models

about Enterprise Software (ERP)

academic research about open source

This is a selection of some outstanding academic research that has been done on open source software. For a more comprehensive list, see opensource.mit.edu.

  • A Case Study of Open Source Software Development: The Apache Server by Mockus, Fielding, Herbsleb, 2000. - In-depth analysis of organization and processes behind the Apache httpd project, with quantitative statistics on defects, defect resolution, and developer productivity. (A more comprehensive version on Apache and Mozilla was presented at a conference.)
  • Open Source Software Development by Greenberg, 2003. - Almost passed this one over because it is an undergraduate thesis. A very thorough analysis of open source and case studies of Apache, Mozilla, IBM, Microsoft (yes, you read it right), and Red Hat. Discusses history and business motivations.
  • Open Source Community Building by Matthias Sturmer, 2005. - A massive (153 pages long) doctoral thesis on building open source communities, with best practices defined in the Conclusions section (page 102) and about 40 pages of interviews with open source project leaders. (This paper really is in English, even though the first pages are in German and French.)
  • The Ecology of Open Source Software Development by Kieran Healy and Alan Schussman, 2003. - Examines the high rate of failure amongst open source projects and hypothesizes that successful projects require a combination of professional developers, management hierarchy, and an evangelizing force.
  • The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond by Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole, 2004. - A sweeping overview of the history, economic motivations, legal issues, and policy considerations behind open source software.

Open Source Business Blogs

Recommended Books

about Open Source

  • Open Source Licensing by Larry Rosen. Excellent book on open source licenses with in depth analysis of major open source licenses.
  • Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing (online version). More focused on paraphrasing and describing the open source licenses, with some additional material at the end. Very readable.
  • Open Sources (online version). An excellent compendium of essays by the major open source leaders, including Torvalds, Stallman, Raymond, O'Reilly. A bit older now and somewhat quaint (especially the references to SCO), but definitely well worth reading. Features a great essay by Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat.
  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar (online version) by Eric S. Raymond. Most cited book about open source. In light of the increasing roles played by major software vendors in open source projects, I'm not sure I agree with his theory of how open source software is created.
  • Suceeding with Open Source by Bernard Golden. Describes the Open Source Maturity Model, a comprehensive analytical tool for evaluating open source projects. Very useful resource for developers, users, and investors.
  • The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber. A socio-economic expose on the open source phenomenon. Theoretical and very long.

Also see O'Reilly Open Books for other books on open source.

about the Software Industry

  • The Business of Software by Michael Cusumano. A must read. In depth analysis of the software industry, from production to marketing to financial analysis, drawing on Dr. Cusumano's extensive research at MIT and consulting assignments with major software companies.
  • The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks. Most frequently cited book on software development, from the building of the original IBM OS/360. Still relevant after forty years.
  • Direct from Dell by Michael Dell. Dell's story of how he focused on the customer and created a strong, successful business first, before raising capital or going public.
  • Who Says Elephants Can't Dance by Lou Gerstner, Jr. With his outsider's perspective, Gerstner revitalized IBM and helped spark corporate adoption of Linux and open source.
  • High St@kes, No Prisoners by Charles Ferguson. Want to know what a startup is really like?
  • Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure by Jerry Kaplan. Another CEO's startup story.

about other related topics

  • Coming to Concurrence by J. Walker Smith. Talks about the general trend across many industries of consumers participating in the brands and products they use. Sound familiar?
  • The Support Economy by Shoshana Zuboff. A very long book about how the economies of the future will be centered around decentralized groups which support its members. CIO magazine published a succint summary which is worth reading.

Open Source Links

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