I recently caught up with BitRock‘s CEO, Erica Brescia, & founder Daniel Lopez to hear more about BitRock & BitNami. BitRock’s goal is to help drive the widespread use of OSS products by reducing barriers for both customers and OSS ISVs.

The company is best known for its BitRock InstallBuilder cross-platform product that competes with the likes of InstallShield. While the product itself is not OSS, BitRock offers open source projects free licenses to the product.

As OSS ISVs began to use BitRock’s InstallBuilder, they started hearing that customers didn’t just want the standalone ISV product. Customers wanted the whole stack that the ISV product runs on. In response, BitRock now offers ISVs Custom Stacks (for a fee). BitRock counts OSS leaders such as MySQL, SugarCRM, JasperSoft and Funambol as customers. In fact, over 20% of SugarCRM downloads are attributed to a Custom Stack that BitRock provides to SugarCRM (including SugarCRM & the relevant stack underneath). BitRock is also expanding into a SaaS-based “Network Service”, similar to the Red Hat Network. This offering is targeted at OSS vendors who want to push updates, check configurations, etc. at their end customer sites.

While everything BitRock does is closed-source in nature, (and pays the bills), the company has introduced BitNami to further the use of OSS as a community outreach service. BitRock hopes that BitNami will become a leading destination for end users and the average developer that wants an OSS product or an OSS development environment respectively, but doesn’t want to hassle with dependencies etc. Since December 2007, BitNami has served up over 100,000 downloads of popular OSS Stacks. BitRock plans to open up the site so anyone can build and host their own OSS stack.

Nearly half of the visitors at BitNami are coming from non-techie sites and are downloading stacks for popular OSS applications such as WordPress or Joomla. The other half are developers that don’t want to collect and install their OSS development environment one piece at a time. Of note, the WAMP distribution is getting more than its fair share of traction as OSS usage continues to grow on Windows.

It will be interesting to track how BitNami evolves. Simplifying the finding, installation and on-going updates to OSS products will surely help the adoption of OSS. The expanding reach of OSS to folks that program out of necessity should help create more ‘developers’ out of relatively “non-technical” people; and they’ll have an affinity to OSS.