Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-08 Thread mike

Paolo Cavallini wrote:


What I really miss on Terra* is the community: I tried several times to
contact it, especially to help having updated debian packages, but never
get a repy, something unusual for open projects.
All the best.
pc
  


There is a message forum at http://phorum.dpi.inpe.br/index.php?49, 
however it looks fairly unused. 
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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-08 Thread Lucena, Ivan

Paolo,

I just got the latest issue of Dr. Dobbs Magazine with this cover-page 
article South American Software Development:


http://www.ddj.com/architect/205600791;jsessionid=AXESE4MZSIY54QSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN

This article is more focused on Brazil than anywhere else in South 
America. It give a little light on the cultural differences that could 
lead to misunderstanding from outsiders. The article does mention Forum 
participation and language barriers as an issue.


Ciao,

Ivan


Paolo Cavallini wrote:

Lucena, Ivan ha scritto:


I believe that TerraLib would deserve a better technical look than
what I did but my initial impression was very favorable. What impress me
the most was the raster-on-rdbms support.

...

Talking about integration with other OSGeo projects I believe that the
current TerraLib RC uses GDAL.


What I really miss on Terra* is the community: I tried several times to
contact it, especially to help having updated debian packages, but never
get a repy, something unusual for open projects.
All the best.
pc

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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-07 Thread Bruce . Bannerman
IMO.



Gilberto,

 
 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.
 


This is an interesting read.

Are you aware of any follow up work?

I'm particularly interested in perceptions of the impact that OSGeo may be 
having as an umbrella organisation.


wrt Government involvement:

- as Frank suggests, I suspect that governments would have more impact 
supporting a central group of applications rather than each one rolling 
their own. The problem is assessing and picking the appropriate 
applications and projects to support.

- governments often have a tender process that they need to follow when 
implementing new systems. If OS products aren't proposed or well 
supported, they often don't get looked at.

- many governments also have a large investment (in time, training, money, 
processes and data) in existing proprietary products and can't easily 
switch arbitrarily to a new product. 

- Having said this, I'm aware of many organisations that are disatisfied 
with the status quo and looking to the longer term to reduce vendor 
lock-in. One way that people are looking to do this is to specify support 
for Open Standards (e.g. ISO 19100 series and OGC) as a key requirement. 
Currently OSGeo projects offer some of the better support for these 
standards. I hope that this continues (though I have noticed some derisive 
comments about standards w).


wrt the Brazillian TerraLib toolkit mentioned in your paper:

- I've had a quick look at the web site. The product appears to be quite 
mature and functional.

- Has anyone from this list had a technical look at the products and like 
to share their observations? Can they be integrated with OSGeo apps? Do 
they support OGC standards etc?


Bruce Bannerman




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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-07 Thread Dr. Markus Lupp

Hi Gilberto,

Gilberto Camara schrieb:

 (Markus)
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)


I respectfully disagree. I doubt you could achieve the same
success in the USA, where there is no active public policy
in support of FOSS. I stand by my earlier assessment that
successful long-term FOSS needs government support (direct
or indirect).
Well, this is interesting and I now understand your point of view 
better. I was really not aware that the indirect support that I can see 
and feel in Europe already is so much stronger than it is in the US.


BTW, in South-East Asia (where I currently live and work) many countries 
have an official initiative that calls for support and usage of Open 
Source software, e.g. http://www.igos.web.id/ in Indonesia and 
http://opensource.mampu.gov.my/ in Malaysia.



Best regards,

Markus

--
Dr. Markus Lupp
l a t / l o n  GmbH
Kupang-NTT
Indonesia
phone +62 (0)81 339 431666
http://www.lat-lon.de
http://www.deegree.org
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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-07 Thread Lucena, Ivan

Hi Bruce,

[EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

wrt the Brazillian TerraLib toolkit mentioned in your paper:

- I've had a quick look at the web site. The product appears to be quite 
mature and functional.


- Has anyone from this list had a technical look at the products and 
like to share their observations? Can they be integrated with OSGeo 
apps? Do they support OGC standards etc?


Bruce Bannerman


I believe that TerraLib would deserve a better technical look than 
what I did but my initial impression was very favorable. What impress me 
the most was the raster-on-rdbms support.


I download and installed the TerraView application and imported some 
raster data files to PostgreSQL and it works like a charm, but again, 
that would deserve a performance evaluation.


The source code repository is not as open as GDAL (for example) but I 
believe that out-side contributors should be able to suggest 
modification by sending CVS patches at least.


There are very good (normally expensive) image processing algorithms 
implemented on the library, e.g. segmentation, Wavelets. There is a rich 
set of vectors algorithms too.


Talking about integration with other OSGeo projects I believe that the 
current TerraLib RC uses GDAL.


Best regards,

Ivan




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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-04 Thread Luis W. Sevilla
Hi Gilberto (and list),
only a couple of  notes
Gilberto Camara wrote:

 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

Sorry, but is Valencian government (region south to Catalonia)

 support for gvSIG, or indirect, as in the decision
 of Germany to support open source software.

Also Extremadura in Spain has this support. 100% of school
software it's linux based, and now every classroom has 1
for every two boys with the money they dont waste on
licenses.


 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


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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Lucena, Ivan

Hi all,

I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or 
anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source 
business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking about 
Xen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen].


I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products from big 
software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world?


Best regards,

Ivan

Gilberto Camara wrote:

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

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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Christopher Schmidt
On Thu, Jan 03, 2008 at 10:26:51AM -0500, Lucena, Ivan wrote:
 Hi all,
 
 I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or 
 anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source 
 business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking about 
 Xen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen].
 
 I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products from big 
 software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world?

Depending on what you're reading (I can't tell from a quick Google which
types of stories you're talking about), I'm not sure how Xen really
plays a part in the commercialization.  Xen can be used to host products
in a virtual environment, and if that is the case, there's no money
being made off *Xen*, money is being made off the other software.

I could be wrong. I just didn't find anything to back up either way in
the Wikipedia and related links.

Regards,
-- 
Christopher Schmidt
Web Developer
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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Paul Ramsey
Xen is one of those things where the market is SO DAMN HUGE that even  
the very SMALL proportion of money that an open source company can  
wring from the marketplace is actually non-trivial in an absolute  
sense.  If Red Hat is only monetizing 0.01% of the Linux marketplace,  
that's still fine, because they are making millions.  The best market  
places seem to be enterprise software with large new markets.   
Examples of success stories are JBoss, Red Hat, Sleepycat, MySQL, and  
note that the last two are actually sort of open source companies,  
in that they still fall back on the software-for-sale model for  
revenues.


The trouble with the geospatial marketplace is that it is relatively  
small, so the small proportion an open source company can monetize is  
smaller still.  The problem with service-oriented FOSS businesses is  
that they don't make money from software, so the easiest thing to cut  
in budgeting is core software development.  Let the product languish  
for a while, it doesn't cost you anything as long as service business  
keeps flowing in.  Or, in the case of pure consultancies, don't do  
any core development at all, just use the software.  The service- 
oriented FOSS business I think has serious structural problems, not  
around providing good service, but around strong incentives to  
nourish the underlying software.


P.



On 3-Jan-08, at 8:58 AM, Christopher Schmidt wrote:


On Thu, Jan 03, 2008 at 10:26:51AM -0500, Lucena, Ivan wrote:

Hi all,

I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or
anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source
business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking  
about

Xen [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen].

I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products  
from big

software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world?


Depending on what you're reading (I can't tell from a quick Google  
which

types of stories you're talking about), I'm not sure how Xen really
plays a part in the commercialization.  Xen can be used to host  
products

in a virtual environment, and if that is the case, there's no money
being made off *Xen*, money is being made off the other software.

I could be wrong. I just didn't find anything to back up either way in
the Wikipedia and related links.

Regards,
--
Christopher Schmidt
Web Developer
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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Frank Warmerdam

Gilberto Camara wrote:

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.


Gilberto,

It is my personal opinion that sustainable success in the FOSSGIS
arena does and will depend on sustaining support from the user community.

In practice, government directly and indirectly represents a huge user
community, and one with the capacity and organization to provide meaningful
support for FOSSGIS development.

When I speak of organization, I mean that government's can provide aggregate
support based on a recognision of the broad benefits of investment rather
than needing to justify all expenditures on a strict cost/benefit basis for
individual projects.

What is less clear to me is how we as a community can help governments
put resources to work in a most constructive way.  I think INPE has done
great things, as have the gvSIG team.  But, I am left with the impression
that the same model applied widely by many national or state governments
would result in a lot of duplication.  I'd like to explore models where
governments at different levels cooperate and contribute to joint development.

In fact, perhaps the gvSIG model, with some (much?) of the support now
coming from the EU level, and increased efforts to promote it's broad
use is a good model for this.

The other approach which has worked, in at least a trickle down way, is
governments showing a preference for foss solutions where practical, and
the consulting and integration companies that provide them based on
existing project turning some of the contract funding into improvements
back to the core projects.  This model has been responsible for quite a
bit of the work on and around MapServer for instance.

Perhaps due to the relentless propaganda of the anti government right in
North America, I have some concerns about governments throwing large amounts
of money into FOSS development without clear thinking about how to make that
money work efficiently.  It is easy to imagine boondoggles that could suck
up lots of money with little in the way of useful products.

Best regards,
--
---+--
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, [EMAIL PROTECTED]
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush| President OSGeo, http://osgeo.org

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RE: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Landon Blake
Paul wrote: The trouble with the geospatial marketplace is that it is
relatively small, so the small proportion an open source company can
monetize is smaller still.

I wonder how this will change as the ability to obtain spatial
information improves and becomes more affordable?

 A few decades ago you needed 3 or 4 men, expensive optical equipment,
and a trained eye to produce maps. Now all you need is a teenager, a
motorcycle, and a GPS receiver.

I think you will find more opportunities for companies with a business
model built around FOSS as this trend plays out. Here are a couple of
examples from my own personal experience:

On entry barrier to GIS is initial data production costs. I have been
impressed at the difference the availability of USDA Aerial Photography
has made in the last few years. (The USDA provides 1 meter color
orthophotgraphy to most counties in California and other parts of the
United States on a yearly basis. This data can be accessed for free or
next-to-nothing.) This has allowed us to do things in my own office that
we couldn't have considered before. The cost of that type of imagery on
that large of a scale was just too prohibitive.

As geospatial data becomes cheaper, more up-to-date, and more precise, I
believe you will see the entry-level cost of GIS implementation at
different organizations drop. This is especially true of remotely sensed
data. Still, it applies to vector data as well. You can't find very many
California counties that don't have vector data available, although
licensing is still an issue in some places.

I believe there are a lot of markets for GIS that haven't been cracked
open yet. Land surveying is one of these. ESRI has thrown some darts in
this direction, but if you ask your typical land surveyor what GIS is
you would probably get some off-the-wall answers. I doubt even 5% would
understand how they could use GIS technology to improve the efficiency
of there own operations.

Another example is an experience I had recently when I volunteered for a
local Ranger District of the US Forest Service. I assumed the Ranger
District would have a GIS person on staff, or at least have some GIS
software and have people that could use it. This was not the case. Most
of the Forest Service staff at the Ranger Station didn't know what GIS
was, and they certainly weren't using it at a local level for forest
management.

Thinking about this makes me wish I had about a couple million dollars
in capital to spend. :] I still think there is great potential for a
company to educate potential clients on the benefits of GIS to their
particular organization, after which the company could then make an
honest profit assisting with the organization with a low cost FOSS GIS
implementations.

It's too bad I have so much fun as a land surveyor, or I'd have to put
more time into getting this type of business off the ground.  With the
US housing market in the toilet you never know what might happen... :]

There will be lots of opportunities for FOSS GIS in the future. (It
almost makes me want to buy stock in Refractions Research.) :] 

I think the key will be making more of an effort to find customers,
instead of waiting for them to find us. I'm not talking about existing
ESRI users, but rather people that have had little exposure to GIS to
begin with, but who could easily be GIS users if someone showed them
how.

Landon



-Original Message-
From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Paul Ramsey
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 9:09 AM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

Xen is one of those things where the market is SO DAMN HUGE that even  
the very SMALL proportion of money that an open source company can  
wring from the marketplace is actually non-trivial in an absolute  
sense.  If Red Hat is only monetizing 0.01% of the Linux marketplace,  
that's still fine, because they are making millions.  The best market  
places seem to be enterprise software with large new markets.   
Examples of success stories are JBoss, Red Hat, Sleepycat, MySQL, and  
note that the last two are actually sort of open source companies,  
in that they still fall back on the software-for-sale model for  
revenues.

The trouble with the geospatial marketplace is that it is relatively  
small, so the small proportion an open source company can monetize is  
smaller still.  The problem with service-oriented FOSS businesses is  
that they don't make money from software, so the easiest thing to cut  
in budgeting is core software development.  Let the product languish  
for a while, it doesn't cost you anything as long as service business  
keeps flowing in.  Or, in the case of pure consultancies, don't do  
any core development at all, just use the software.  The service- 
oriented FOSS business I think has serious structural problems, not  
around providing good service, but around strong incentives to  
nourish the underlying software

Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Dr. Markus Lupp

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 
interest.


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,

Markus


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, 

RE: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: FOSS4GIS business models

2008-01-03 Thread Landon Blake
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.

Landon

-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 
interest.

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,

Markus


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