There are several possible reasons why a company would want to release an OSS product. In large companies this release is often related to other services/products for which they make profits, and just a small part of the company's business. For SME releasing an OSS product may concern their whole business. Companies like eZ live and die with their OSS product.
While providing an OSS product can give many benefits (community contributions, easy access to customers, publicity, etc). It is NOT necessarily simple to attract and sustain a community of volunteers and other organizations.
The company, and its products and strategy have evolved Architecture and business models 1999-2001: A re-usable web framework 2001-2005: Enabling plug-ins 2005 ->: Building a library
EZ have succeeded at attracting a community because they have had a product which is interesting and attractive. They have been able to provide the services that the customers need. They have also had a modular architecture which has allowed other to extend eZ's products.
While, eZ has made plans, we believe that some of their success is due to their agility and ability to adapt and change their business according to the opportunities which have surfaced. By “dividing” the community they have been able to strictly control core assets while being more open to contributions from the outside over, and under eZ Publish.
Other papers claim that the investments necessary for releasing and OSS product are considerable. However, through the eZ case we show that they can be relatively low. If one does not overdo everything from the start, the infrastructure(and the investments) can rather grow with the community and its needs.
OSS2009 Øyvind Hauge
Providing Commercial Open Source Software: Lessons Learned Øyvind Hauge, Sven Ziemer [email_address] Øyvind Hauge and Sven Ziemer, Providing Commercial Open Source Software: Lessons Learned, in: Proceedings of the 5th IFIP Working Group 2.13 International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS2009) - Open Source Ecosystems: Diverse Communities, June 3-6, Skövde, Sweden, pages 70-82, Springer, 2009 Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-02032-2_8
Lessons learned <ul><li>Allow your business model to evolve
Balance control related to community contributions