Subject: Apache chairman: Days numbered for commercial software
From: Seth Johnson <>
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 00:01:08 -0500


Apache chairman: Days numbered for commercial software

Selling services will be the business model of choice, Stein says

By Paul Krill

March 22, 2006

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. -- The days of selling software through the
traditional commercial model are numbered, as open source is
becoming the paradigm of choice, said Greg Stein, chairman of the
Apache Software Foundation, at the EclipseCon 2006 conference on

Software is becoming increasingly commoditized, Stein said during
his keynote presentation, and more of it is available free and it
is easy to get.

He cited the OpenOffice  office automation package as an example
of free software to replace Microsoft (Profile, Products,
Articles) Office.

"As the [open source] stack grows and grows and takes over more
areas, there's less money available in packaged products," Stein

"All of your software [will be] free. It means that over time,
you arenít going to be paying for software anymore" but will
instead pay for assistance with it, Stein said.

He estimated that in five to 10 years, most software used today
will be free.

"The notion of packaged product is really going to kind of go
away," Stein said.

Eventually, a free software project will overtake a commercial
effort in functionality; there are almost always more developers
in the open source community, Stein said.

Making money in software will involve selling assistance services
for functions such as: installation, configuration, maintenance,
upgrading, testing and customization, Stein said. Basic software
components themselves will be free, he said.

"As our systems grow more and more complex, more and more
assistance is necessary," he said.

An audience member was not so willing to concede the software
market to open source.

"I think there's always going to b a spot for commercial, closed
source for specialized tasks but the base infrastructure will be
more open source or easily available," said Danny D'Amours,
computer systems officer at the National Research Council.

Commercial, closed source software will not go away "because
there's so many small niches that people will be able to exploit
or be able to make commercial solutions off of," D'Amours said.

In other parts of his presentation, Stein discussed the evolution
of software licensing and compared Apache to Eclipse.

"A license can ruin a perfectly good piece of software," Stein
said, borrowing a quote from fellow Apache participant Jon

"A bad license can make it so restrictive that nobody wants to
use [the software]," Stein said.

Licensing has taken various forms, ranging from the traditional
proprietary license used by Microsoft, IBM (Profile, Products,
Articles), and Oracle (Profile, Products, Articles); to
Microsoft's somewhat less-restrictive Shared Source license to
the all-access GNU General Public License (GPL), which has caused
problems, Stein said.

"The GPL is sometimes considered viral in that it grows out to
the entire software package," requiring the release of all code
affected by it, he said.

Even licenses associated with Google (Profile, Products,
Articles), where Stein is employed, Yahoo and MSN are closed, he
said. "Their software is also closed. It's proprietary; you can't
get at it," said Klein.

In comparing Eclipse and Apache, Stein said Eclipse looked at the
Apache model when being founded. Like Apache, which started with
a Web server, Eclipse has expanded beyond its original mission,
now being more than just an IDE. But Eclipse has paid staff while
Apache is all-volunteer, said Stein.

"Our organizations [have] not been very close, but certainly,
we're starting to see more cooperation between them" Stein said.

Apache has long-term initiatives under way such as its Harmony
J2SE (Java 2 Standard Edition) implementation, Stein noted.
Apache also has taken on endeavors that would have been
surprising several years ago, such as the Derby database, he

Stein cited patents as an issue for open source, particularly in
the area of standards. "Standards that have patents in them are
going to be very difficult and one of the big areas in the future
that are going to cause problems for open source," Stein said.