A business model for commercial open source software a systematic literature review


The popularity of the open source software development in the last decade, has brought about an increased interest from the industry on how to use open source components, participate in the open source community, build business models around this type of software development, and learn more about open source development methodologies. There is a need to understand the results of research in this area.Since there is a need to understand conducted research, the aim of this study is to summarize the findings of research that has ben carried out on usage of open source components and development methodologies by the industry, as well as companies’ participation in the open source community.Systematic review through searches in library databases and manual identification of articles from the open source conference. The search was first carried out in May 2009 and then once again in May 2010.In 2009, 237 articles were first found, from which 19 were selected based on content and quality, and in 2010, 76 new articles were found from which four were selected. Twenty three articles were identified in total.The articles could be divided into four categories: open source as part of component based software engineering, business models with open source in commercial organization, company participation in open source development communities, and usage of open source processes within a company.


Given the value and effectiveness of open source software development to date, practitioners are keen to replicate these practices inside their respective corporations. This application of open source practices inside the confines of a corporate entity has been coined inner source software development. However, while organisations have found ways to directly benefit from revenue streams as a result of leveraging open source practices internally, the current research on inner source is scattered among different areas. Thus gaining clarity on the state-of-the-art in inner source research is challenging. In particular, there is no systematic literature review of known research to date on inner source. We address this challenge by presenting a systematic literature review that identifies, critically evaluates and integrates the findings of 29 primary studies on inner source. Case study approach is the common research approach undertaken in the area. We also identified 8 frameworks/methods, models and tools proposed in the literature to support inner source, as well as a set of benefits and challenges associated with inner source. We envision future work to perform deeper analysis and synthesis on the empirical research on inner source software development.

I’m happy to report that the 18th article in the Open Source Expanded column of IEEE Computer has been published.

TitleThe Open Source Distributor Business ModelKeywordsOpen source distributor, open source distribution, open source business model, open source sustainabilityAuthorsDirk RiehlePublicationComputer vol. 54, no. 12 (December 2021), pp. 99-103

Abstract: This article defines and discusses one particular commercial open source business model, called the (open source) distributor model. It can attract significant venture capital, thereby contributing to the long-term sustainability of open source.

As always, the article is freely available (local copy, as PDF).

Also, check out the full list of articles.

Written by Jane