February 14, 2013, 7:14 AM — Last year, Red Hat announced that it plans to offer OpenStack on a subscription basis as a commercial, enterprise-grade product. OpenStack is an open source software project for building private and public clouds.
Red Hat's engineers contribute to the OpenStack project, and the company is an old-hand at productizing open source projects and offering them on a subscription basis. It is probably best known for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), a productized version of the open source Fedora Linux operating system, as well its JBoss Enterprise Middleware, based on JBoss community projects.
Companies such as Red Hat make a lot of money selling products based on open source projects. But if the underlying software is free, what exactly are you paying for when you subscribe to these products?
1. Enterprise-Grade Support
If your company uses open source software in mission critical areas then you'll probably need someone to provide support when the software doesn't work as expected.
With proprietary software, the availability of support is a given, but when you download and run an open source project you may have to rely on the help and support of the project's developer community. That help may arrive, but then again it may not: Community support comes with no service-level guarantee and a 24x7 telephone support line is not provided.
Third-party companies offer support for some open source software on a commercial basis, but Gordon Haff, a senior manager at Red Hat, says, companies like Red Hat that sponsor and productize open source projects are in a better position to provide you with support than these third-party companies.