Open source and visible source

Zope Corp.'s layered strategy of engagement with open source and visible-source communities is a compelling blend of the strengths of free and commercial software development. In two previous columns, Open source citizenship and Giving back to open source, I explored the tendency of enterprises to fork open source projects rather than join them. Pedhazur suggests that a commercial entity supporting both an open source base and a visible-source layered product can reduce the need to fork. By outsourcing code enhancements, the argument goes, an enterprise can enjoy single-throat-to-choke control without seceding from a project's community. It remains to be seen how broadly this model can apply, but in cases where it does, what's not to like? [Full story at]
In this two-minute clip, Zope Corp.'s Chairman Hadar Pedhazur describes the visible source model as a middle-ground option between the few large open source projects, whose direction an enterprise cannot easily influence, and the many smaller ones that enterprises can influence, but typically fork in order to do so.

My hunch is we'll see more of this kind of thing as open source continues to climb up the stack and encroach on the business layer. The visible-source gated community is a particularly interesting construct in light of the Nicholas Carr argument that a lot of IT is shifting from competitive advantage to cost of doing business. In an environment of growing "co-opetition," the visible-source model can pool dollars and intellectual capital in a way that drives down cost for everyone without favoring anyone. Meanwhile it's a great opportunity for the business that manages the relationship between two worlds: the open-source product with its user/developer community, and the visible-source product with its user/developer/customer community.

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