One of the more interesting areas of innovation in open source has been the licensing models companies have used to commercialize it. For years, a number of companies subsisted on the Open Core model, wherein the core of a product was open source licensed while add-on capabilities (like advanced security) were kept proprietary. In a conversation with RackN CEO Rob Hirschfeld, he pointed out an oddity of this model: Few contribute to the core of a project, but many want to contribute around the edges.
For RackN, primary sponsor of the Digital Rebar open source project, this “aha” realization led them to completely invert their Open Core model, open sourcing their extension ecosystem while making their core closed. Has it worked? Let’s see.