Interesting thread on InfoQ regarding open source business models:
Rod Johnson and Stormy Peters are engaging in the debate of which model is better: "Create & Support" vs. "Pure Support". This topic has gone round and round in the past, and I think the heart of the debate lies in the definition of "Support".
The "Pure Support" model should actually be called "Technical Assistance" since it focuses on helping people get over technical issues, find workarounds, etc.
Technical assistance is important, but what happens when the issue requires a bug fix...or a refactoring of some of the code? Then what?
The code can be changed...but who manages that change? And if that code is part of a complicated stack of open source technologies...who is managing all the patches and branches of all those changes?
Also...who ensures that change is committed upstream so that future releases of the technology benefit from the change? If the changes are not committed upstream...then who will maintain that fork for the X-years lifecycle that enterprise customers demand?
Let's be real. While enterprise customers need technical assistance, they also need patches and updates to the versions of the software they have deployed today...and they want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their fix today will still be there in future versions if/when they upgrade.
So, this explains why we at JBoss hire the key technical leaders from the projects that comprise our middleware portfolio. THIS is Professional Open Source.
Professional Open Source is not just Technical Assistance.