If you thought that most open source developers work for open source companies, you might well be wrong. According to a survey from open source services vendor OpenLogic, 50 percent of its respondents actually work for a proprietary vendor.
The OpenLogic study aims to put into focus why people contribute to open source in the first place and though money is an issue it’s not the only issue.
The OpenLogic study was carried out by polling members of the OpenLogic expert community, which is a group of individuals that provides support and commercial assistance on open source technologies to OpenLogic customers.
Only 6 percent of study respondents identified themselves as working for an open source company. The rest of the survey’s participants were consultants or working in businesses outside of software.
Stormy Peters, director of community and partner programs at OpenLogic, explained that many open source developers keep their open source work separate from their paid work. She had initially thought that every open source developer’s dream was to get paid for working on open source software, but that’s not necessarily reality, she said.
“I think there are a lot of myths about how open source developers feel about working for proprietary software vendors and how people can make money from working on open source software,” Peters told InternetNews.com. “I hope that by putting the numbers out there we can get the conversation started, and people will realize there are more opportunities.”
In addition, the study revealed that 50 percent of the open source projects developers were working on did not have commercial vendors behind them. To go a step further, OpenLogic asked the question, “Do you think every open source software will have a commercial company associated with it as it becomes more widely used?” 84 percent of respondents said no.
Peters commented that she believes the 84 percent figure is a vote of confidence in the open source software model. That the model exists because people will work on open source software for their own reasons that doesn’t always have to be about making money.
Kim Weins, senior vice president of marketing at OpenLogic, added that survey respondents contributed many comments about the commercialization question. Many of the comments said isn’t always appropriate to have a commercial vendor behind certain projects.
“There is value being added by open source that doesn’t all have to be monetized in the traditional way of creating a company around a technology,” Weins told InternetNews.com.
Among the projects cited by Peters that are popular but do not have commercial vendors that directly run the project are the Apache HTTP Web server and the GCC compiler.
In some ways the OpenLogic findings are self-serving in the sense that they prove the validity of the OpenLogic model. Peters noted that most of the projects that OpenLogic supports are those that do not have commercial vendors behind them.
Additionally the study found that 64 percent of respondents noted they joined the OpenLogic Expert community to support the expansion of open source software. The question allowed for multiple responses, and 50 percent additionally noted they joined to make money.
In terms of what support open source software users may need, Weins explained that most of the issues that OpenLogic sees in terms of technology issues are not bugs in open source software. Rather, she argued that more than 90 percent of issues that OpenLogic sees are interoperability issues between various pieces of software and platforms.