Finding a company to support the widening number of open-source pieces can be a challenge, says Burton Group analyst Gary Hein. Aztec Software Inc. and Gluecode Software are two companies looking for a niche providing service and support for software stacks that combine various open-source products.
Chaney says he would have run into more opposition if he hadn't been able to purchase Gluecode's technical support. He has had to tap that support. "I got the response I needed the same day," he says.
But do the new open-source companies have staying power? Critics point out that VA Linux, a former supplier of Linux hardware, became a much-reduced VA Software, providing collaborative development applications; Scriptics, a supplier of a commercial version of the Tcl scripting-language tools, and GreatBridge, a supplier of technical support for PostgreSQL, both went out of business.
What's more, open-source products aren't necessarily open for life. SourceForce, an open-source collaboration portal, went from being open-source code to a closed and proprietary product. "It's not easy to close an open-source project, but it's possible if the copyright holder chooses to do so," Hein warns. "Viability and stability risks cannot be ignored when considering open source."
As users have learned with Linux, and as Microsoft officials love to point out, open-source software isn't always free. The venture-capital investments make the second generation of open-source products look more like commercial software. It's the goal of JBoss and MySQL to create profitable companies, with consequent top- and bottom-line expectations.
"Open-source code is in flux," Sabre Holdings CTO Murphy says. "You can't tell exactly where you will end up." Still, he's forging ahead. Sabre Holdings purchased an enterprise license for MySQL and will likely add even more open source in the future. Says Murphy, "Things are working."