Thanks for that example. I typically work with GIS in 
"single-desktop"situations, and I never really consider the problems of scaling 
a custom GIS solution over a network might bring.

I appreciate the ability to use scripting to increase productivity. It is 
something we try to do with our CAD work whenever possible.


-----Original Message-----
From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Sampson, David
Sent: Monday, January 07, 2008 5:40 AM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: RE: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

Just a short response,

The best reception I ever got about open source in government was by saving a 
project (in the gov) a measureable amount of money (enough to have someone take 
a risk on saving money anyhow) and by drasticaly increasing productivity. This 
was achieve by moving from an older and well known image processing suite to 
using GDAL for a repeatable and scripted process. Increase of productivity by a 
factor of 12 (eg one person was now doing the same work achieved by 12), and 
savings of over 100K in licensing fees multiplied by each year the project 
progresses. The costs of a few months of in-house development quickly paid off. 
Managers always like going back to their boss and saying they're ahead of 

Now infrastructure let us down because we over taxed the network and filled up 
storage arrays  way too quick and the project never scaled to accommodate. We 
moved to a "just in time" model. However the software, a FOSS solution, was not 
to blame. Poor architecture and scaling was.

This success, however, led to enough trust to consider supporting some FOSS 
development. The contractor let us down though and failed to deliver. This was 
the quickest way for the once believers to loose faith and trust. 

So there is an example how FOSS is great, best of breed, superior, less 
expensive and a FOSS development company over one small contract can reverse 
the progress. Inhouse development of a FOSS solution worked, external 
contracting failed.

Just one perspective.

-----Original Message-----
From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Landon Blake
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 19:15
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: RE: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

Markus wrote: " I have to say that I am a bit surprised that I got the 
impression (from the remarks by Paul and others) that the same is not possible 
in Northern America!?"

I'm no expert, but I think most people involved in FOSS development in America 
would agree that the political climate for FOSS in this nation can be very 
hostile. Microsoft is a very powerful lobby, and ESRI is fairly entrenched in 
the government world. (This may not be the case in some universities and far 
flung government offices, but it is definitely the rule.)

>From my own experience with other developers from OpenJUMP, which are mostly 
>outside of the United States, support of FOSS by European governments is much 
>stronger than here in America. I find this somewhat ironic, since it seems our 
>publicly funded geospatial data is much more accessible than in Europe.


-----Original Message-----
From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Dr. Markus Lupp
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 4:03 PM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

Gilberto and all,

I would like to give some comments on this from the perspective of a GIS 
company with an Open Source business model, I hope you will find them of 

lat/lon was founded in the year 2000 as a private company (in Germany) and had 
from its beginning an open source business model. We do consulting and software 
development for GIS projects, mainly in the context of Spatial Data 
Infrastructures (SDI). Most of the project solutions we develop are based on 
deegree, a library tailored for interoperable SDIs that was originally 
developed together with Bonn University. We compete with other vendors, 
proprietary and open source based alike, on the same grounds (software quality, 
price, quality of support and so on). With each project we do, we develop 
deegree a step further, we have no source of funding that does not come out of 
projects we have to apply for first. I do not want to go into too much detail, 
but we do pretty good, which means we can pay our bills and have continuous 
growth year by year. Also there is a number of other companies by now that are 
developing solutions based on deegree, some of these companies are based in 
neighbouring countries.

Now to the question of government intervention. After reading Gilberto's mail I 
asked myself what is meant by this term? In Germany (where lat/lon so far is 
mainly active) there is no official policy supporting open source software. 
There is a number of guidelines that suggest so, but all public bodies are free 
to do how they like. But there is a growing support from people in governmental 
agencies who decided by themselves that they want to use more open source 
software (Gilberto - is this what you mean by indirect support?). Still - as I 
said - there is not any kind of "protectionism" for Free Software. We (and 
other companies doing the same job) have to convience our clients that what we 
offer is good value for money.

So from my point of view it is possible to compete in the GIS market using an 
open source business model without any high-level government intervention 
(although it surely helps). Perhaps Germany is special in this regard, but I 
doubt so - we are getting more and more projects in neighbouring countries as 
well. I  guess that there are other companies having similar experiences. I 
have to say that I am a bit surprised that I got the impression (from the 
remarks by Paul and others) that the same is not possible in Northern America!?

Best regards,


Gilberto Camara schrieb:
> Dear OSGEO Discussion List members:
> Paul Ramsey┬┤s remarks are right on target.
> First, GIS is a large arena and there are different motivations for 
> developers, that prevent them from joining a single project such as 
> uDIG.
> Second, it is very difficult for a private company to develop a 
> world-class FOSS4G product and survive based only on consulting fees 
> for the commercial sector.
> Third, to overcome these limitations there is a need for governmental 
> intervention, which may be direct, as in the case of Catalonian 
> government┬┤s support for gvSIG, or indirect, as in the decision of 
> Germany to support open source software.
> In Brazil, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been 
> supporting local GIS development for 25 years, with a lot of success 
> in our national user community.
> Without official support, there would be no local FOOS4G development 
> in Brazil.
> In 2003, I did a F00S4G market survey and published the results as a 
> chapter of a US National Academy of Sciences book:
> "Open Source GIS Software: Myths and Realities"
> <www.dpi.inpe.br/gilberto/papers/camara_open_source_myths.pdf>.
> We analysed 70 FOSS4G software projects taken from the FreeGIS list, 
> and divided them into three categories:
> networked products (e.g. GRASS), corporate products (e.g., PostGIS) 
> and individual products (e.g., CAVOR). From each product, we assessed 
> its maturity, level of support and functionality.
> Our main conclusions at the time were:
> (a) Only 6% of the  products were developed by networked teams.
>     Thus, the "Linux paradigm" is the exception rather than the rule.
> (b) Corporations (private or public) are the main developers of
>     successful open source products. Corporations account for 41% of
>     all products.
> (e) Individual-led software (a small team of 1-3 people) have
>     less quality and more mortality than the above.
> These results show that the impetus behind successful open source 
> software was not coming from altruistic individuals working in the 
> midnight hour, but from professional programmers.
> I consider that a similar result would be obtained today, should the 
> assessment be repeated.
> This analysis was further elaborated in a JASIST paper:
> "Information Policies and Open Source Software in Developing Countries"
> <www.dpi.inpe.br/gilberto/papers/camara_fonseca_jasist.pdf>.
> For the FOSS4G effort to be fruitful and sustainable, we need a very 
> informed and candid assessment of our business model. My personal 
> view, based on 25 years of experience, is that government intervention 
> is essential for the open source model to survive beyond a handful of 
> examples.
> Best regards
> Gilberto

Dr. Markus Lupp
l a t / l o n  GmbH
phone +62 (0)81 339 431666

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