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How to make money from open source software

Paul Rubens | Sept. 3, 2015
Ditching the GPL may be the key to running a successful commercial open source software business.

Providing a free, not-for-production version of the product, along with its source code, also enables companies to evaluate the software easily, although this is not unique to open source software. None the less, Raskin maintains that for the first three years of the company's five year history it had more sales leads than it could handle simply because organizations were trying out the software and examining the source code. "In that respect, open source can be a very valuable sales pipeline,” he says.

The remaining question is how profitable ForgeRock's open source business model really is compared to others in the identity software space like Oracle, CA and IBM. The company doesn't reveal this type of financial information, so it's a question that's hard to answer.

But, Raskin is convinced, ForgeRock's approach is an open source business model that allows it to thrive in a way that isn't possible using the traditional GPL-based business model. "You do get hardline open source people who maintain that everything should be 100 percent free, but if that only results in commodity software, then that's the wrong model,” he concludes.


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