OpenLogic shared some of their year end stats with us that I found interesting.  OpenLogic reported that the following projects drove the most customer interest:

  • Tomcat
  • Apache HTTP Server
  • JBoss
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL

OpenLogic also reported that their average customer acquires support for an average of 66 open source projects. They also reported a significant uptick in interest for open source software support during the second half of 2008:

  • OpenLogic saw a 2x increase in the number OpenLogic enterprise customers in 2008 (to a total of 75 enterprise customer); over half of these new customers coming on board in the second half of 2008.
  • OpenLogic received more than triple the number of inbound sales leads in the second half of 2008 over the first half of 2008.  More than half of all new deals came from inbound leads from enterprises actively shopping for open source support.

I find it very interesting that customers turn to OpenLogic for support of JBoss, MySQL or PostgreSQL, and even Tomcat for that matter, when the vendors behind these projects offer their own support or enterprise editions.  This goes back to the argument that SpringSource’s Rod Johnson was making about customers only acquiring support from vendors who have substantive control over the code in question.  But if the average customer is getting support for 66 projects, that customer definitely wants a one-stop-shop.  Managing 66 vendor relationships is nobody’s idea of fun!

I get the sense that having access to the developer of the project is no longer the #1 buying criteria for some customers seeking OSS support.  This was bound to happen with the maturity/quality of open source projects and customer’s familiarity with these projects.  Think of the 15% of customers that purchase support and decide not to renew in year 2 because they didn’t make sufficient use of the support offering.  Play this out over several products and it’s easy to see the value of a combined support offering like OpenLogic’s offerings.

So does this mean that the MySQL/Sun’s of the world are going to lose revenue at the hands of the OpenLogic’s of the world?  Nope.  Customers do value the relationship with the vendors behind key open source projects.  I emphasize “key” because out of the 10s or 100s of OSS products in use at a customer, a handful are more critical than the rest.  For example, I want to be sure that the HTTP server or database stays up as these products impact customer experience.  If I keep getting an error with Ant, it’s annoying for my developers, but doesn’t impact the customer experience.  There will always be different use cases and customers have differing needs.  It behooves the open source ecosystem to address these needs as broadly as possible.