ISV and VAR for Commercial Open Source Software

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February 9, 2011 by huionn

I have a few friends who have resigned from their 9-5 jobs and become self-employed. I admire their courage to step out of their comfort zone. At the same time, I am thinking what is the feasible way to do the same for software development.

IT consultants or freelancers are quite common in western countries. Basically, they are contract workers with higher hourly rate and less job security & benefits. It seems this is quite uncertain for me (I am not a committer of any open source project and my portfolio is not impressive) and I don’t want to end up as exploited labour.

When I was reading a document, an idea flashed into my mind. I found that there is a business model built on Open Source business model – to be Independent Software Vendor (ISV) or Value Added Reseller (VAR) partner of Commercial Open Source Software (COSS). Many commercially successful COSS (as shown in provide ISV partner programmes. Those partner programmes create win-win partnership – ISVs provide new leads for subscription fees and COSS provide resources, marketing channel and reputable brand name.

In addition, usually, open sources provide cheaper alternative to propriety software – no license cost upfront and lower annual subscription fee. Another benefit is that open sources allow customization at code level (which is impossible for COTS).

As the first step, I am learning Alfresco which is the most popular open source Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. It is also commonly referred as a Content Management System (CMS). As Alfresco is relatively new (founded on 2005), it take advantages of modern Java architecture…

Actually, my final goal is to build EDM on top of open source systems – all systems are integrated with event driven SOA.


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