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9 Open Source Companies to Watch 122

An anonymous reader writes "A look at 9 open source companies to watch, focusing on everything from systems management to portals to apps servers. " Silly bits like where their names come from to less silly bits like how much VC they got and what they actually do. I haven't heard of many of these, but it's encouraging to see a growing number of businesses being built around Open Source.
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9 Open Source Companies to Watch

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  • by network23 ( 802733 ) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:22PM (#15995696) Journal

    They missed the #1 Open Source company to watch:

    N3P []

    "N3P offers a brand new, contrasting and intrepid two-year college level training in how to become a successful Project Entrepreneur in Open Source. Our students will learn not only the technical possibilities, but also how to exploit new business opportunities, manage profitable ideas, and create flourishing businesses. The training will focus on how to generate business using open source."

    N3P []

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 )
      intrepid two-year college level training in how to become a successful Project Entrepreneur

      Entrepreneurship is something that, almost by definition, can't be taught, because it involves identifying how to use resources no one had before thought to identify. If you can systematize the method, it's not longer entrepreneurship, but a rote process.

      If, on the other hand, they're just using the term "entrepreneur" to mean manager, and they're just going to teach you what you need to know to run a business, they'
      • Entrepreneurship is something that, almost by definition, can't be taught
        Then I have no idea what they are trying to teach here []
        • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:02PM (#15996253) Journal
          Browsing the site, it looks like [] they're doing just what I talked about. Teaching how to be a manager, how to finance something, how to get people to be creative. They're not teaching how to come up with ideas, how to identify undervalued resources, i.e. the stuff that constitutes genuine entrepreneurship.

          I know, it sounds like a nitpick, but I don't like when people act like, hey, once you teach this course, you'll be a successful entrepreneur, because entrepreneurship comes precisely from not following standard thinking. Maybe I didn't say that right...
          • Yeah, I was just being a smartarse...sry...

            I've actually been listening to the entrepreneur podcasts from the HBS (on itunes - free), and they are quite valuable... some good insite. The biggest thing to remember is that ideas are easy, identifying opportunities and avoiding obsticles is difficult. Some good advice on running with your idea, what the true cost of VC investment is, social engineering (ahem - advertizing), etc... Worth a listen if your even considering going into buisiness (owning your own
      • intrepid two-year college level training in how to become a successful Project Entrepreneur
        Entrepreneurship is something that, almost by definition, can't be taught, because it involves identifying how to use resources no one had before thought to identify. If you can systematize the method, it's not longer entrepreneurship, but a rote process.

        • Cooking, for example, is deeply systemized - but it's hardly rote. Considerably experience and knowledge is required to routinely produce great dishes. (I can hand you a recipe - and even with that experience and knowledge you might not be able to duplicate it. My sister, who is a trained chef, cannot (yet) duplicate several of my dishes.)
        • Chess is deeply systemized - but it takes considerable skill to know how and when to apply a specific tactic, or a counter to a specific tactic (after learning how to recognize it).
        • Military tactics and doctrine are deeply systemized - but it's decidely nontrivial to apply those in real situations. When the SSBN I served on went on patrol, we carried a shelf of books nearly five feet long detailing the tactics, doctrine, and philosophy of conducting a deterrent patrol as well as general submarine operations - but it takes years to master the material and know when to follow 'the book' and when to 'punt' (go your own way).
        Now, I'll agree with you that you cannot teach how to identify opportunities - but you can codify how to search for, evaluate, and exploit them.
        • Looks like it depends how systemized your process gets; some can get more systemized than others. Either way, there remains plenty of stuff that cannot be taught effectively, and experience cannot be completely replaced by pedagogy.
  • The 9 (Score:5, Informative)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:24PM (#15995706)
    1. Cleversafe - dispersed storage grid
    2. Digium - open source PBX
    3. Hyperic - manage heterogenous it environments
    4. Optaros - consulting
    5. Qlusters - open source systems management platform
    7. Sahana - secure web portal
    8. ws02 - open source application server
    9. zenoss - network and systems-monitoring software
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      you missed #6 - rPath Inc
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        their name is rPath ET, Inc.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:52PM (#15995877)
      A huge %, if not most, Linux systems are embedded and mobile devices like phones etc. Mobile/embedded space is the fastest growing area and if it isn't the biggest already, it will soon be.

      This list is only looking at servers etc and none of these projects/companies would be of any interest in embedded space.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by cgladwin ( 971031 )
        The Cleversafe client is designed to be embeddable into mobile linux devices like mobile phones, media players, cameras, cars, etc. We (I am one of the Cleversafe developers) believe that more data and more critical data will move to mobile devices over time and a dispersed storage grid to store all that data will thus become increasingly important. Chris Gladwin
    • 6. rPath - platform to create preconfigured, pretested application appliances that can be downloaded and deployed by enterprise users
    • by ext42fs ( 725734 )
      rPath is quite interesting because what's the main hassle to get portability? Interfaces! Have a look at POSIX, glibc, M$.* and realize that those interfaces are big & fat. So, the easiest way to run an application might just be to contain it in its own virtual OS instance. And of course Cleversave is interesting (IMHO) because there is a practically infinite amount of storage out there and GByte prices are declining ever since harddisks were invented...
    • I wish more people would post succinct summaries/highlights of articles that make one wade through short page after short page with only a little content but a lot of ads and other dreck on each page. Sites where one used to be able to just click on Print often don't even offer that option for those of us who want to skim an entire article on one page.

      Your summary gave me just the info I was curious about: the names of the nine companies in question. Good job!

      Have you considered trying to summarize U.S. f
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:56PM (#15997162) Homepage Journal
      I can think of a few dozen Open Source-based companies that are offering far more innovative products, far better products and sometimes even both at the same time. I have no problem with an editor saying "these are worth watching", but I do have a problem with an editor astroturfing. I also have a problem with editors making bold claims without any actual evidence. All we're getting is the corporate handout.

      A proposal I made many many years back was to run a league table, where so many points were scored for the release of an open source product, so many points were scored for updating someone else's open source product, so many for closed source products that supported or enhanced the usability of an open source product, etc. The more open source, the more points. Also, the more significant (in terms of power, flexibility, etc) the more points, and the more practical the more points.

      The idea was to show who actually was doing work, versus who was merely bragging about it. The idea was also to make major Open Source figures (some of whom have never actually released a product but have contributed to many) just as prominent in the table as major corporations with Really Big Bucks to throw around. It would also show those who are working on making Open Source a key player in the computing world, even if their products are not themselves Open Source.

      (Oracle would score points for having put their corporate database on Linux, for example, but it would not be as much as Computer Associates for putting their corporate database - Ingres - not only on Linux but opening up the source as well. Postgresql would score more yet, as it is not only Open Source but regularly maintained.)

      Newcomers are at no disadvantage, because whatever REAL added value will show up notwithstanding the newness or the lack of awareness. If there's no added value, then there is nothing there to watch. It's merely a rebadge. If there's added value and this value is constantly added to (which is what a new company should be doing), then it will be a very obvious rapid-riser through the charts.

      Proprietary vendors who are wary of opening their high-value major product lines will obviously not score as well, nor should they, but they will be represented as a function of what they have contributed - directly in terms of products, and indirectly in terms of improved usability.

      Then, journalists MIGHT have a clue as to what is interesting and what is not. They might also have a clue as to what is significant, what is likely to become "big news" and what is worth the effort of covering.

      As it stands, they neither know nor care. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune. Mind you, what I'm aiming for, with this idea, is not to introduce honesty, but rather to give people a copy of the songbook. Let people see for themselves if the tune is any good or is even what it's claimed to be. It would seem to me that an informed userbase will take care of the honesty issue by itself.

    • THANK YOU!

      9 Open Source (cutting edge) companies... buried in a 1997 web model where the ads take 75% of the space. I can live with a few smoothly placed ads, but that was ridiculous.

      I have this list stored, and I will research it later.

  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:27PM (#15995723) Journal
    FTA, re: Zenoss:
    "We are bringing the Zen of open source to IT management," says Bill Karpovich, co-founder and CEO.

    Bill Karpovich, bringing vague managerial-speak to OSS since August 2005.
    Future ventures to include:


    Really, I could go on and on... But for the sake of my own sanity, I'll stop there. Besides, companies have been named far worse [].
    • by Otter ( 3800 )
      On the other hand, it beats:
      The company's name originally was to have been Hyperica, but one of the founders "mysteriously left out the 'a' in the company incorporation documents and Hyperic was born," says Javier Soltero, Hyperic's CEO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by FrankDrebin ( 238464 )
      you forgot Massivecapitaloss.
  • Shitty layout, interesting article.
  • Besides Red Hat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:37PM (#15995772)
    Are there any other open source based companies besides Red Hat that are actually profitable? I don't mean this to be flamebait, just wondering.

    I was at a conference a few months ago sitting in an Open Source track, and the panel of Open Source vendors basically said that the best chance of success in the open source business was to be renamed Red Hat and to have come about about six years ago.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      not a business model.

      The OSS companies with a fighting chance of making it are ones which aggregate (RedHat et al), or ones which have huge numbers of users with some small fraction willing to pay for support (MySQL, SugarCRM, ...).

      To paraphrase some sales guys I used to work with, anything you give away for free has no value. In this case value means revenue potential. If the customer is not willing to pay to support the free product, then why are you "selling" the support?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      Apache. MySQL. Both of those are. I know several hosting companies that host Linux boxes that are. I also know a lot of other companies whose entire infrastructure is Linux.
      • Apache is a non-profit charity that accepts donations. Not profitable.

        MySQL is a privately owned German company, but they say that they've been funded by VC's since 2001.

        So, no neither of those companies are profitable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by savio13 ( 995182 )
        Apache. MySQL. Both of those are.

        Minor clarification, Apache is not a company. There are several companies that make money supporting products that are from the Apache community. This is one of the best things about Apache products, no 'company' controls them. Take Apache Tomcat or Apache Geronimo for instance, you can get support from Chariot Solutions, Covalent, IBM, Logic Blaze, Novell and Virtuas. And all of these companies have contributors to the projects, (along with guys that are not affili
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eneville ( 745111 )
      Novel/SuSE, Sun(open-ish), IBM are doing a bit for the opensores also. Don't forget companies which make their money /from/ open source, such as openadvantage.

      Ubuntu is a company also, is it not, didn't M Shuttleworth make his money from selling books about open source and had enough left to form the Cannonical company?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 2nd Post! ( 213333 )
      What is "Open Source based"?

      Apple, for example, relies heavily on GCC to make their applications and OS and contributes extensively to the GCC code base. The same with WebKit/Safari/KHTML, though they have been accused of being not quite cooperative in the past, they did get past that. Then their is their use of BSD in their OS, their release of the QuickTime Streaming Server, Bonjour networking protocol, their use of the CUPS print system, and a couple other examples including Apache, Javascript, etc.

      • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
        I don't think Apple counts. If they did, any company that runs Apache would be considered an "open source" company.
        • Apple counts because they actually have developers contributing to Open Source projects. That they use Apache means they aren't wasting resources reinventing the wheel nor supporting closed programs like IIS.
          • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
            Apple's business model is not predicated on FOSS. They could use a different compiler, or web server, and this would not affect them in any way (except for licensing fees).
            • Apple's OS depends on BSD and Mach for it's kernel and userspace, CUPS for printing, gcc for compiling their OS and applications, SMB for Windows file sharing, etc.

              If they DIDN'T use those OS programs, they wouldn't have half the features or capabilities, which would severely affect their business model... that, or be very expensive and time consuming to develop themselves.
              • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
                It absolutely would not affect their business model. It would simply require more money be spent in development. That alone does not significantly change a company's business model.
                • Reduced profitability due to increased input costs does affect a business model!

                  Look, Microsoft has to spend several years and billions of man hours to write an OS.
                  Apple has the freedom to use source from FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD as their foundation, freeing them up to instead write innovative front end solutions, such as Expose, Quartz, Dashboard, and Time Machine in the time that it takes Microsoft to release something equivalent to Quartz. At the same time Apple is also a smaller, much smaller, comp
                  • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
                    Once again, you fail to understand what "open source company" means. Microsoft has incorporated BSD-licensed code into their stuff. Does this make Microsoft an open source company? Of course not. It is the same with Apple. Sure, they make use of some Free code, but the products they actually make money on are closed (or are hardware, etc).
                    • Define an "open source company", the general business model, and the opportunity for profit and growth. I think we have two different definitions.

                      My definition: A company that uses open source, contributes to open source projects, and releases internally developed projects as open source. Apple does all three of those things.

                      What is your definition, and by that definition what companies count?
                    • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
                      Consider the following two phrases:

                      "open source company"

                      "company that does some stuff with open source"

                      You defined the latter.
                    • You have failed to define the former. Is an open source company something that only sells products for which they have released the source code? So the minute Red Hat sells anything closed, such as a binary driver or app, they are no longer an open source company?
    • []. Of course, they're not a software company, but a network services company. But they've been a profitable private company since at least 2002.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are there any other open source based companies besides Red Hat that are actually profitable? I don't mean this to be flamebait, just wondering.

      Tons actually. Mostly individuals or small groups of people many working as consultants. You don't have to work for Microsoft, IBM, HP, CA, Oracle to someone that treats you like a meet factory product. It is a growing business, software support and people who are really into the OSS support business, and are not BSers do well. BSers skid fast.

      IBM realized this,

    • Hyperic (Score:3, Informative)

      by porkrind ( 314254 )
      We've been profitable since day 1. []

      -John Mark
      Community Manager
    • FWIW, I'm doing contract work for a company whose name I probably shouldn't mention (I've signed NDAs) that uses open source software for most of it's infrastructure. They have a custom built WebObjects application running on FreeBSD (under Linux compatibility), Apache+SSL, MySQL and PHP plus some other tools/libraries like JBoss, JFreechart, ClamAV, Tripwire, etc. They're a startup company doing project portfolio management, have been around for about three years and are currently profitable.
    • Trolltech is going gangbusters. They've had 76% growth annually since 2000, and just went public a few months ago. Of course, some won't call it an "open source" company because it sells a closed version of its products, but they're just being wet dishrags.
  • How do they plan to keep making money going forward?

    I'm not trying to be negative or cynical, but it's surely the most interesting question as an external observer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by deander2 ( 26173 ) *
      How do they plan to keep making money going forward?
      I'm not trying to be negative or cynical, but it's surely the most interesting question as an external observer.

      well, considering that this question has been answered here, there and virtually everywhere, repeatedly, for the last 5-6-7 years now, if you are not trying to be negative or cynical, one must suspect you of trolling.

      i'm not trying to be mean, just a casual observation from an external observer.
      • by Trillan ( 597339 )
        So I take that your flame bait response to mean you don't have a good answer?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lee1026 ( 876806 )
      A fair number of them rely on support contracts to make money.
    • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:06PM (#15995960) Homepage Journal
      Digium sells PBX hardware which can be used with their open source software. They have quite a large selection for their niche.
    • How do they plan to keep making money going forward?

      A paypal button on their website of course!
    • Hyperic has to turn down customers, although that won't be the case for long, as we bring in more people.

      So far, no one bats an eye at our enterprise version pricing.

      • by Trillan ( 597339 )
        Thanks. I've been considering writing an open source application myself, and it's good to know enterprise pricing does work in some cases. I'm not sure it would work for me --the market I'm looking at is notoriously cheap, and has a long history of pirating our software. Since some of the features don't work when it's pirated, so we get purchases a few times a year when people need those features (and pretty much no other time). :)
      • by Darby ( 84953 )

        Hyperic has to turn down customers, although that won't be the case for long, as we bring in more people.

        So far, no one bats an eye at our enterprise version pricing.

        Product looks good, Gentoo support which rocks since that's what we use here, but you're violating one of my pet peeves.

        Try to find out about pricing info and there is none. You have to contact a sales person to even get a ballpark figure.
        For what it's worth, I for one can't stand that sort of thing. Just put a ballpark price and I can tell imm
  • by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:41PM (#15995789) Homepage Journal
    IBM. I win.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:43PM (#15995799) Journal
    I mean, it's not a bad idea, but that name? Sounds kind of like eFax calling themselves Windows Print Driver.
  • by rk ( 6314 ) *

    Anybody else notice there are ten companies on this list?

    • by w33t ( 978574 )
      they must mean for us to count 0-9
    • Yes! 10 companies in the list. Only 9 are worth watching.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by savio13 ( 995182 )
      It could be that Sahana isn't really a company. It's an open source project. Interestingly enough, Sanjiva Weerawarana, the CEO of WSO2, appears to have been one of the initial contributors to Sahana ( []). Maybe it was just meant to be 9 companies and 1 community effort started by the CEO of one of the 9?

      PETJ (People for the ethical treatment of journalists)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sanjivaw ( 986416 )
        Sahana is not a company. Sahana is an open source project we started in Sri Lanka in response to the Asian Tsunami in Dec '04. It was an immediate response effort (if you want to know more about it check out my blog). Later we re-started it to make it into a truly reusable system rather than a system made for the local situation and its now pretty much the de facto disaster mgmt system. I have no idea why the reporter listed it as a company. Yes I was involved in it (I was one of the many people who work
  • excerpts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tharkban ( 877186 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:59PM (#15995915) Homepage Journal
    I just wanted to know what the companies did. So here it is (company name followed by "What does the company offer?")


    The Linux File System, which lets Linux computers store information on a dispersed storage grid called the Cleversafe Research Storage Grid. The company plans to offer commercial dispersed-data storage services and software.


    Asterisk, the industry's first open source PBX, and Asterisk Business Edition, a professional grade version of the software.


    Hyperic HQ, an open source platform for managing heterogeneous IT environments, including operating systems and Web, application, database, middleware, and virtualization technology. The company also provides subscription-based services and support, as well as advanced features.


    Consulting and systems integration services focused on open source softwar


    OpenQRM, an open source systems management platform.


    A secure Web portal that includes applications used to coordinate and collaborate during relief efforts following disasters.


    Tungsten, an Apache-based open source application server built from the ground up to handle Web services. The company is planning to roll out a line of Web-services-focused, Apache-based middleware, with its Titanium Enterprise Service Bus due for release soon.


    Open source network and systems-monitoring software.


    A commercial version of the open source AMANDA (Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver) backup utility software, as well as services and support for the software.
    • If you want to read this article, just hit the print button, it's impossible any other way (two people missed rPath :P ).
      Plus the author must have missed it, cus there's actually 10 companies.


      rBuilder, an open source platform that includes a tailored version of Linux to create preconfigured, pretested application appliances that can be downloaded and deployed by enterprise users in minutes.
  • See if you can figure out which company the "anonymous submitter" works for. Taking all bets!
  • Cleversafe (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheUnknownCoder ( 895032 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:19PM (#15996031)
    Funding: Private, plus angel investors, amount not disclosed.

    Plus free, shameless advertisement through Slashdot:

    Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday April 26 []
    Posted by Zonk on Monday August 21 []
    Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday August 28 []
  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:25PM (#15996070)
    I like how ZManda's web page says they offer "Two levels of world-class technical support".

          Because some worlds are just naturally classier than others. I'd hate to get their Underworld-class support.
  • I understand that people want to make money off of their websites. I understand that a lot of people are dying to get published on slashdot because of the traffic flood and the ensuing revenue that follows either because of impressions or because even the anti-advertising slashdot crowd exhibits a click through rate.

    But why force me to read 8 pages? Each page has roughly 25 lines of real content and less than 250 words. That and 301 links all designed to get their 25 line articles at the top of the SE li
  • db4objects -
    Open-Source Object Database for Java and .NET

    I'll never use an O/R mapping tool again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
      Open-Source Object Database for Java and .NET

      With that many buzzwords in its description alone, it has to be good.
  • Some people will download anything. I used to have a program on one of my web sites that was a plug-in to a high-end animation package. It was totally useless unless you had that package, and knew how to run it, which few people did. Thousands of people downloaded the plug-in, despite clear statements that it was useless without the main package. They'd even fill out the registration form.

  • Asterisk is a much better name than Mark Spenser's senior project at Auburn: NADS. I don't think the professor was amused. If I recall correctly, they got the lowest grade in the class. I know some of the names are suppose to be funny but unless you're lucky enough to have a true geek running your IT department (pretty rare), you're not going to be able to use something named Drools or Groovy, no matter how good the product is.
  • Where's SCO...

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10