Much is rightly made about the quality of open-source software like JBoss and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. These, however, are arguably not the source of the quality of the businesses behind them. Their networks were/are.
JBoss was doing well before it created the JBoss Operational Network using Hyperic's software as a foundation. But it was the Network that dramatically boosted JBoss' renewal rate and ASPs (as JBoss lead investor David Skok noted in his OSBC 2007 presentation). Red Hat was Red Hat before it had Red Hat Network (RHN), but RHN gave customers an easy justification for paying for what they could get for free elsewhere.
The Network, in other words, is the not-so-secret sauce that makes great open-source companies. The principle behind it is to give the "core" software away to lower the cost of sales and marketing, while providing "complementary" services like an RHN to facilitate a purchase.
Which brings me to Mozilla.… Read more