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The "Business of Open Source" miniconf at LCA 2012 is for people interested in business aspects of open source. Topics include licensing your work, building a market, building a community, gathering market data, distribution, communications, working with open source developers, working with governments and countries, working with procurement departments, corporate governance, funding, pricing, lessons from your experience, and whatever related topics people would like to bring up. Whether you are a student working on a one-person open source project, own your own open source consulting company, or create open source strategy for a multi-billion dollar company, this miniconf hopes to bring different people together to exchange thoughts and facilitate discussion about these topics.


Your Business & Product: Modular or Integrated

Open Source geeks love APIs and modularity, preferably right from the first design. This appears to make sense on a technical level, but does it really? And what are the alternatives? The true story is somewhat more complicated. According to research the appropriate choice is dependent on time and situation, not only changing but even cycling over time. There are important lessons to learn for software development as well as business structure, as choosing the wrong architecture at the wrong time can be fatal for a product or startup. In this talk, we xplore how it works and thus how to make the right decisions.

Arjen Lentz is the founder and exec.director of Open Query, which provides remote maintenance for MySQL and related environments. Prior to that he was employee#25 at MySQL AB (2001-2007).

The Economics of Open Source Software

In this talk, I will discuss some economic issues relating to software development, with consideration for some common software metrics. Even though those considering Open Source Software solutions may perceive initial ecomonic barriers, in the long term, inherent transparency and openness in the process can lead to better longer term cost effectiveness. This talk will discuss some arguments that can be useful to produce the economic case in favour of an Open Source project to those considering Open Solutions

Daniel Jitnah is an independent IT Consultant and owner of the IT Consultancy Business, GreenwareIT, which offers services in the area of Open Source Software and Linux Systems.

People Hacking: Open Source Business Etiquette

Do you obsess when writing emails to "business people" or feel awkward and not know how to converse with "finance people"? Dread networking events? Understanding the biases that our audience have and being empathetic to their goals will smooth any interaction. Open source projects present unique business challenges since so many of our staffing resources are volunteer. Easy interactions and good business happen when common interests are highlighted and shared goals are defined. Let's cut through posturing and adversarial language and practice hacking people to align interests and improve everyone's comfort in business situations. The fantastic side effect of this is that your project and business become more inclusive and stronger through diversity of background, skills and perspectives.

Sarah Novotny talks about infrastructure automation for a living at Opscode. She is a founder and board member of Blue Gecko which does remote administration and management of databases around the world. Her focus has been MySQL database administration since MySQL was in version 3.23. She is additionally the Program Chair of OSCON and the Chair of the IOUG’s MySQL Council. Her technology writing and adventures as well as her more esoteric musings at For twittery things, check out To connect with her on linked in wander over to

Experiences building CVSDude, a successful tech startup

CVSDude (later renamed to Codesion) is SaaS company I started in 2002 before ‘buzz’ words like cloud computing and SaaS ever existed. Initially offering the open source tool CVS to a global market place, and eventually expanding with other OS tools including Subversion, Git, Trac and Bugzilla. I started this company from my home with no funding and hosted it off the back of my ADSL line using server hardware I’d purchased of eBay for $70. Quickly it grew into something meaningful and between ’04-’05 revenues we’re growing 400% and customer signups around the same.

I went on to raise US$1.3M of Angel investment from mostly US based investors to help accelerate the expansion of the business, and the company partially moved to the US in Jan ’09 where it grew to 18 employees in size and supporting nearly 4,000 commercial customers, representing nearly 100,000 users.

After going through a restructure in early 2010, and having to let go of my CEO, I decided after 10 years it was time for me to move on. I Contacted several people in larger organizations I’d become acquainted with over the years with my intentions to sell, and after receiving positive responses from more than 1, I proceeded with merger talks with several. The business was acquired in Oct, 2010 for a high seven figure sum to US based CollabNet, who are the corporate sponsors of the open source VCS tool, Subversion.

My talk is on the CVSDude/Codesion story, investment experiences, experiences in Silicon Valley, the mistakes I made and the success I had. It represents that you can created a successful business around open source tools.

Mark Bathie: Originally a software and database engineer, I founded, moved to Silicon Valley, raised Angel funding and successfully exited my first tech startup CVSDude/Codesion in Oct, 2010. Initially the startup offered subscription based software tools to software teams, delivered via SaaS and the cloud in a time before these 'buzz' words existed.

Cloud and PaaS based open source business solutions

"Cloud power position number 1: The platform-as-a-service (PaaS) battle will intensify, determining who will be "the next Microsoft." - IDC's Predictions 2011.

OpenShift by Red Hat, is a portfolio of free, portable cloud services for deploying and managing applications in the cloud. Currently there are three application deployment services offered as part of OpenShift; Express, Flex, & Power.

Paul Gampe is Vice President of the Engineering Services and Operations group at Red Hat. From his base in Brisbane, Australia he manages the global group delivering a range of software engineering services including Security Response, Quality Engineering, Release Configuration Management, Content Services and Program Management among others used by all Red Hat Products.

Panel discussion: Monetising open source software

This panel will explore the evolution of open source commercialization opportunities and strategies, as FOSS has evolved:

  • from being community driven to becoming vendor driven
  • from simple software product origins to becoming the core of today's Internet and most related services
  • from being a outsider to becoming common in most areas of software infrastructure

This will be an open forum session led by an expert panel. Each panel member will give a 3-5 min lightning pitch outlining relevant recent research indicators / experiences/ views - then open discussion with all attendees.

Moderator: Bob Waldie

Panelists: Mark Bathie, Nicolas Erdody and Paul Gampe

Bob Waldie (moderator), aging serial entrepreneur with a history of successfully and unsuccessfully creating wealth built on open source technology foundations. Currently chairs Opengear inc. Regular presenter at startup/funding gatherings. Spoke at LCA2011 and OSDC 2011 business miniconfs.

Newstead: Australia's Most Open Source Town

Newstead is located less than 2 hours drive north west of Melbourne and less than 1 hour north of Ballarat. The town has a population of around 400 people and has a thriving community. Per capita Newstead receives one of the highest levels of grant money in the country. One of Newstead's other claims to fame is that it is Australia's most open source town.

Over the last few years Newstead has embraced open source solutions for a range of community projects. Newstead has a community maintained website, which is powered by Drupal. Over 60 people in the town have been trained to manage their pages on the community site. The editors range from teenagers through to people in their 70s. The website is currently being upgraded to provide more functionality.

Like many rural areas, Newstead has poor quality copper and a variety of "technology blockers" that prevent many people accessing reliable broadband services at an affordable price. To provide internet access for locals and tourists, the community has built a free wifi network covering downtown Newstead. The use of the network has been growing steadily over the last 2 years.

Three years ago the local internet cafe was the biggest botnet in the district. Today the internet cafe uses Ubuntu and is almost zero maintenance. There were some initial teething problems as users adjusted to the new OS, but now people love it.

During the session Dave will give an overview of some other community initiatives in the town and opportunities for open source small communities across Australia.

Dave Hall has contributed to numerous open source projects, including Drupal core, phpGroupWare, StatusNet, and PEAR. Dave has a special knack for finding elegant solutions to complex problems and a keen interest in performance, scalability, and security. For example in 2009 he designed, deployed, and maintained more than 2000 production Drupal 6 sites for a single client. More recently he kept Al Jazeera's blog site online during the Egyptian crisis. Dave is based in the Central Victorian town of Newstead, where he lives with his family and a bunch of animals. Newstead boasts a community-run Drupal website and free wireless network. Dave is currently working as an Architect and Lead Developer for Technocrat while consulting to other large Drupal clients.

Related bits and bytes

Experiences and issues developing a FOSS extension for a commercial product

The difficulties in developing and distribution a FOSS for a closed source commercial product with an "open" API is harder than it might seem. This talk describes the experiences that a developer of an open source spatial extension to Oracle's SQL Developer has had not just in extension development but also in contacting and building a user base and creating a framework for a successful future.

Simon Greener has some 23 years IT experience, including 2 ½ years developing database mainframe applications (user of Oracle since 1988) and 3 years researching geospatial solutions at Telstra (research created Censis's spatial division), 2 years conducting GIS research at University of Tasmania, 5 years as Director, Technical Solutions at Salamanca software (including designing first Whitepages web database and application for Telstra), 1 year as technical architect with Geographic Business Systems (GBS), 7 ½ years as GIS Manager at Forestry Tasmania and 3 ½ years as an independent geospatial consultant specialising in spatial databases, data quality, solutions architecture, executive dashboards.

Nuts and Bolts of Free Software Nonprofits

This talk will be an overview of nonprofit organization for free and open source software. I will discuss what is involved in forming a nonprofit dedicated to free software, highlighting issues that typically arise, some of which will have more of a U.S. focus. I'll discuss some of the prominent free software umbrella organizations (including the GNOME Foundation and the Software Freedom Conservancy) and highlight differences between them. I will also discuss the current situation in the United States and include recommendations for projects contemplating finding or forming a corporate home.

Karen Sandler is currently the Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation and prior to taking up this position was General Counsel of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). Karen continues to do pro bono legal work with SFLC and Question Copyright and serves as an officer of both the Software Freedom Conservancy and SFLC. Before joining SFLC, Karen worked as an associate in the corporate departments of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in New York and Clifford Chance in New York and London. Karen received her law degree from Columbia Law School in 2000, where she was a James Kent Scholar and co-founder of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. Karen received her bachelor’s degree in engineering from The Cooper Union.

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