Building Commercial Open Source Software: Part 4 — Deployment & Business Model

Building a Commercial Open Source Company

In our time investing and supporting open-source companies, we’ve learned several lessons about project & community growth, balancing roadmap and priorities, go-to-market strategy, considering various deployment models, and more.

In the spirit of open source, we wanted to share these learnings, organized into a series of posts that we’ll be publishing every week — enjoy!

PART 4: Your deployment model is your business model

  1. Serverless does not make a company: Offering a ‘serverless’ managed service for your project can be a significant boon to kick start customer adoption; it’s easy to get up and running, running a sophisticated service 24/7 is non-trivial and removes the operational complexities with devops and infrastructure. At the same time, a hosted open core does not make for a company. Offering a serverless version of your open core can be a great initial start but is not sufficient. You need to ask yourself: can your offering be differentiated enough from a cloud provider offering the same thing? Can a customer scale up on your managed service or will they eventually need to migrate onto their own infrastructure for security, residency, policy, or other enterprise needs? Can you continually build layers of value on top of your open core and deliver them all through the managed service? Or are you really just reselling cloud compute resources from AWS? Companies such as Mongo, Redis, Astronomer*, and Cockroach have gone well beyond just managed versions of their open cores in order to drive value on top of their open cores.

Venture Capitalist, Partner @Venrock, writing about software & hard things for developers, space, and modern computing.