Really? Many months ago, likely close to an year ago, I read an article on why Barack Obama wasn't 'black enough' to win the election. Likewise, I have heard a couple of people ask skeptically about DotNetNuke's open source credentials - as you might expect, these are more often than not people from the 'pure' (read J2EE / PHP) world; and sometimes lay persons who automatically conclude that there 'Microsoft' and 'open source' don't go together.
Some people have been surprised that there is such a widely successful open source project DotNetNuke on the Microsoft stack and in the MS ecosystem (Incidentally, this was one of our challenges in raising our Series A). Some others, have questioned the degree of our open source credentials - Extent of Read/Write access to the code repository; Left License - Left enough?; Community Participation etc.
As I thought about this more . I realized there is no one way to skin a cat. Every open source project has so many different parameters - it is difficult if not impossible to come up with 'universal objective criteria' acceptable to all for judgment and/or assessment.
As I continued to think . I wondered . Forget the criteria, what is open source? As I talked to people and asked that simple questions - I realized open source has different interpretations; and the interpretations depended on the person's experience with open source to-date and on what he or she was trying to get out of open source.
Some examples …
To a Developer . "Open Source" means the "collaborative and open / transparent development of software"
To a Technical / Product Executive . "Open Source" means a "better software development model"
To a Business Executive . "Open Source" means a "new and better software business model; software distribution model; or software sales model or some combination"
To the linguistically inclined . "Open Source" means "software that is open; i.e. software whose source code is open"
To the Customer (Technical) . "Open Source" means "software that is open, reliance and that can be easily enhanced or maintained
To the Customer (Business) . "Open Source" means "reliable software that provides greater value/dollar that everybody seems to be talking about"
Who is right? Everybody is right in their own way. Then again, Nobody is right --- when viewed from the others perspective. It reminds me of the story of the 5 blind men who each described the elephant differently (the one who felt the trunk described it as a snake; the one who felt the tail as a rope; the one who felt the side as a wall . etc.).
So, what does open source mean to DNN Corp?
From our perspective, we don't want to get caught up in the linguistics of open source. For us, open source is a means to an end. The end for us is ...
first, to ensure that DotNetNuke becomes the defacto standard for building web applications (web sites, intranets, extranets etc.) in the world - first on the Microsoft stack, and then elsewhere;
second, to ensure that we enrich all the participants in our ecosystem - we have done this so far from a product / technology perspective - we intend to take that to the business side of the house as well
... and in the process of doing both the above, to enrich ourselves as an organization.
As for the term "open source" itself - the bottom line is how much value has the project added to the economy or market eco-system .
Well, at ...
· 5.7M+ Downloads
· 450,000+ Live Production Instances of the Software
· Hundreds of thousands of DotNetNuke Users and Developers
· Hundreds of SI, Module Vendors, Skin Vendors and Hosting Providers who have built their businesses on this platform .
... How many so called "pure" open source projects have added comparable economic value? We rest our case!