Pervasive Software has called time on support and services for the PostgreSQL open source database, citing pressure caused by commoditization and price sensitivity.
In an open letter yesterday, Pervasive chief executive John Farr said he ""ound the opportunity for Pervasive Software to meaningfully increase the adoption of PostgreSQL by providing an alternative source for support and services was quite limited."
The company launched service and support for the open source database in February 2005, with pricing starting at $1,999 for basic support and going up to $4,999 for a 24-hour service. Pervasive also offered its own implementation of the database, called Pervasive Postgres, that was available for free download.
Intellectual property, white papers and other collateral devised by Pervasive will now be turned over to the open source community.
Farr's decision is a warning for Silicon Valley startups trying to build businesses based on support for open source. Not only is support a costly business activity that is difficult to scale, but companies must convince users they should spend money on something they have downloaded for free.
An Evans Data Corp survey this year found users of tools based on the Eclipse open source framework reluctant to pay for support. Just over 30 per cent expect support to be free while a third said if they had to pay, it would be less than $100.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that platform vendors could provide their own open source support services. IBM is piloting support for tools on Eclipse while Sun Microsystems has told The Register it may provide pre-integrated stacks of open source software, which would save customers the need to undertake integration on their own. Stacks could feature PostgreSQL and Solaris, as Sun is integrating PostgreSQL with Solaris 10.
Platform providers have the advantage for customers that the open source software would be integrated with products like application servers. Platform providers, meanwhile, have the edge over start ups because their costs would be relatively low and easy to lose in the bigger picture of their overall businesses. ®