I think what we all seem to forget is that there is no Spring without Interface21. ...
If this is truly the case then Rod Jonson and others should stop describing Spring as community driven or community spirited. If what you say is true, then Spring is just another proprietary middle ware framework that happens to be open source.
I don't get this at all, community-driven and community spirited doesn't mean that the community wrote all the code (go ahead and sight Linux, but see my comments below). From my own experiences with Mule the community is most affective when soliciting feedback, the hundreds of emails we receive every week helps to _drive_ the development of Mule. Users also submit ideas, improvements and code to the project (plus we also have a MuleForge
with about 60 modules, with over half coming from our community, others are partners or internal projects). Community-driven development is all about allow your users to get involved _when they can_. The community of users don't have time to run a project, maintain QA, consistency, etc. There needs to be a dedicated team n place to make this happen. Does having a dedicated team in place somehow detract from the openness of the project? well of course it doesn't, It just improves the quality of the releases. Spring might still exist without Interface21, but it wouldn't be the robust, integrated and fully-featured framework that it is today.
I will not argue whether it's ethical for one company to pay for development of the product and for another company to earn from it without paying royalties.
What do you mean? like how GNU/Linux becomes Linux and a host of Linux distributions make money from work "gifted" by others over many years? If open source is gifted "free" work it doesn't matter as long as all in the community can benefit from it and have equal access and freedoms.
IMO Linux only 'really' worked because of guys like Redhat. They made linux accessible (remember the dark days when Linux wouldn't recognise your screen resolution or modem). How did they make it accessible? By taking control of a distributed that they turned into a real product. At some point a successful open source projects needs to take the next step and build a company around it, in part to get some return on investment for the team that looks after the project but more important to sustain and grow the project offerings.
Interface21 doesn't have a right to exist, and personally for an horizontal middle ware product like Spring, if it can't survive through free contributions or donations, but only through a monopolistic approach to service royalties then I would argue that the community has spoken and it has limited community support in the first place.
Donations and contributions are always gladly received but a project, but the proviso is that the contribution has to live up to the same standard as the rest of the code base. Unfortunately the majority of code submitted projects is at best only 80% complete, since there needs to be more testing (often there is an absence of tests) AND there needs to be a QA process in place to ensure when the contribution is added it doesn't screw anything else AND works seamlessly with other related modules in the project. There is a lot of additional work on top of contributions that 'someone' has to manage (resist the urge to put this responsibility on the contributor since s/he has does not work to the projects release plan since they are volunteering and there's no guarantee the work will ever get done)
I do understand what Interface21 are going though since we have been going through a similar transition the last 12 months
I agree that to try an monopolise revenue on an open source project you started with the premise that "we wrote it" may not be the best approach, but there are plenty of benefits that the company behind the project can offer that others cannot -
1) While there may be many experts on the project out there, they are not all under one roof and ready to help you.
2) The company behind the project ultimately own the core road map (contributors rarely get involved here because they don't have the time to invest in it). Of course companies like SpikeSource can contribute back, but I guess they haven't with Spring.
3) As a company, If your production system goes down, and you're losing money, you'll want to talk directly to the guys that wrote the code. Going though a middle man may waste time, so why gamble?
4) MuleSource like many open source commercial companies are the only people that can offer Indemnification and other insurances, because we own the IP.
5) We also offer value-add products
as part of the support offering, that you wouldn't get though other service provides (unless they are a MuleSource partner).
When we started MuleSource we understood that we would not be the only company offering services for Mule
, but our approach has been to compete on quality of service and offerings, this is working well for us
. We also have successful and building partner network where we offer Level 2/3 support to companies in other regions who offer support or services for Mule. There is so much global opportunity out there that we just couldn't meet demand on our own. This is also good for companies since the get a choice of providers but ultimately they can still get serious issues escalated to Mulesource.
I think guys like Optaros and SpikeSource serve a purpose offering entry level support for projects, but I doubt they'll be taking business from the project founders providing they focus of differentiation on QoS. I'm not banging Spikesource for offering poor service, they should be able offer a decent entry level of support, but being a jack of all trades means that you are a master of none.