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Bruce Perens on software in a Post-Open world

What comes after open source software? Bruce Perens shares his ideas on why open source as he first defined it has failed, and what a new paradigm could look like.

Open source software has been both an incredible success and a failure, according to Bruce Perens, who coined the term and co-founded the Open Source Initiative in 1998.

The success can be seen in its proliferation. It has become a major component in systems programming. But, he contends, that software is also buried under proprietary apps, where tech giants such as Amazon and Google have found ways to profit on the free software model while eavesdropping on their users.

In Episode 5 of IT Ops Query: Tech's Tragedy of the Commons, Perens tells TechTarget Editorial's Beth Pariseau that it's time for a new paradigm, one that runs concurrent to open source. He calls it Post-Open, a licensing approach that's more complex than what exists now but tackles the sticky yet increasingly critical issues of compliance, developer payment and sustainability.

Companies that sign on and are making more than $5 million per year in end user revenue are subject to a once-a-year software audit and pay a percentage of that revenue based on what they're using under the Post-Open license. Those funds, collected by trusted Post-Open collections organizations, are funneled to open source developers and maintainers as well as support, which has become a complex, expensive and time-consuming operation for enterprises.

Developers benefit from the Post-Open model due to its direct path to payment. It also removes developers as the first point of contact for support -- something Perens said they only do to make money. Companies also benefit from simplified compliance requirements, a growing issue as new, sometimes complicated laws require software bills of materials and identification.

Through Post-Open, compliance "becomes a once-a-year process," Perens told Pariseau. "That's important because big companies are spending $7 million a year on an open source compliance department."

Perens noted that Post-Open is still just a plan right now but one he is committed to advancing by spending six months of his time on process and $100,000 in legal work. He also believes Post-Open could become a viable model for for-profit companies.

Nicole Laskowski is a senior news director for TechTarget Editorial. She drives coverage for news and trends around enterprise applications, application development and storage.

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism covering DevOps. Have a tip? Email her or reach out @PariseauTT.

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