Open Source

Open Core – It’s All About the Brand

Jessica Thornsby

Bloggers debate whether Open Core deliberately misleads the customer.

Dave Neary is the latest in the string of bloggers to have his
say on the Open Core debate – and, in his view, it’s all about marketing.

As a brand, open source has many positive connotations: the
freedom to alter the software as you see fit; the freedom to test
software before committing to use it; the freedom to switch
suppliers; and access to the community that grows organically
around successful open source ventures. The problem is that these
positives do not apply to Open Core – but there is potential to
confuse open source for Open Core, especially amongst customers who
are not overly familiar with the concept of open source.

“Open Core for me means you provide a free software product,
improve it, and don’t release the improvements under the free
software license……The features you see advertised on the
project’s website are not available to you along with software
freedom,” he says. This view is backed up by the Open Source
Initiative, who recently posted their
on Open Core. Among these points, was that Open Core
vendors who imply – through marketing, or other means – that
largely proprietary software is open source “are engaging in

MySQL creator Monty Widenius has also commented on the potential for the Open Core
tag to confuse, citing that just because some of your product is
released under an open license, does not make you an open source,
or Open Core, company, as even some of Microsoft’s code is
available as open source. And, if even Microsoft could potentially
market themselves as an open source, or Open Core, company, then it
is easy to see how the general customer could get confused by an
Open Core marketing strategy.

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