[OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

Lucena, Ivan ivan.lucena at pmldnet.com
Thu Jan 3 10:26:51 EST 2008

Hi all,

I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or 
anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source 
business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking about 
Xen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen].

I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products from big 
software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world?

Best regards,


Gilberto Camara wrote:
> Dear OSGEO Discussion List members:
> Paul Ramsey´s remarks are right on target.
> First, GIS is a large arena and there are
> different motivations for developers, that
> prevent them from joining a single project such as uDIG.
> Second, it is very difficult for a private
> company to develop a world-class FOSS4G product
> and survive based only on consulting
> fees for the commercial sector.
> Third, to overcome these limitations there is
> a need for governmental intervention, which may
> be direct, as in the case of Catalonian government´s
> support for gvSIG, or indirect, as in the decision
> of Germany to support open source software.
> In Brazil, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
> has been supporting local GIS development for 25 years,
> with a lot of success in our national user community.
> Without official support, there would be no local FOOS4G
> development in Brazil.
> In 2003, I did a F00S4G market survey and published the
> results as a chapter of a US National Academy of Sciences book:
> "Open Source GIS Software: Myths and Realities"
> <www.dpi.inpe.br/gilberto/papers/camara_open_source_myths.pdf>.
> We analysed 70 FOSS4G software projects taken from the
> FreeGIS list, and divided them into three categories:
> networked products (e.g. GRASS), corporate products (e.g., PostGIS)
> and individual products (e.g., CAVOR). From each product,
> we assessed its maturity, level of support and functionality.
> Our main conclusions at the time were:
> (a) Only 6% of the  products were developed by networked teams.
>     Thus, the “Linux paradigm” is the exception rather than the rule.
> (b) Corporations (private or public) are the main developers of
>     successful open source products. Corporations account for 41% of
>     all products.
> (e) Individual-led software (a small team of 1-3 people) have
>     less quality and more mortality than the above.
> These results show that the impetus behind successful
> open source software was not coming from altruistic individuals
> working in the midnight hour, but from professional programmers.
> I consider that a similar result would be obtained today, should
> the assessment be repeated.
> This analysis was further elaborated in a JASIST paper:
> "Information Policies and Open Source Software in Developing Countries"
> <www.dpi.inpe.br/gilberto/papers/camara_fonseca_jasist.pdf>.
> For the FOSS4G effort to be fruitful and sustainable,
> we need a very informed and candid assessment of our
> business model. My personal view, based on 25 years of experience,
> is that government intervention is essential for the open source
> model to survive beyond a handful of examples.
> Best regards
> Gilberto

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