Now that I work in an engineering environment tailored for SaaS development, I’ve developed a better understanding of the challenges they face when open sourcing their code. I wrote it up for OpenSource.com in a 2-part article, “How to decide whether to open source your SaaS solution.”
The decision to open source code requires a fair bit of planning if you want to do it right, especially when it comes to user support and documentation. In the case of SaaS, the required planning is different, although it shares some factors with any open source effort. In my series, How to Make Money from Open Source Platforms, I focused on software that exists solely to be deployed on a computer, whether on a local machine, in a data center, or in a cloud platform (yes, I know the last two are redundant).
There was a simple reason for this focus: It was what I knew. In my career, I have always worked with software, of commercial and community origins, to be installed somewhere. Now I work directly with engineers who take software designed to work solely on their website and with their particular infrastructure, automation, and orchestration. The fact they have been able to take this software and offer it to others in a way that is not only usable but can actually power other businesses is a testament to their commitment to an open source world.
This article attempts to summarize their experience and point out lessons to draw from it. I’ll also try to identify how open source efforts relate to business and product strategy for SaaS models.
I try to go into some level of detail, using my favorite tool: supply chain funnel analysis. If you’re looking into taking your SaaS code open source, I hope this helps you.