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Which services would professional open source users pay for? Survey results part 8

Keenan Szulik
by Keenan Szulik
on June 14, 2018

Updated on September 27, 2018

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Earlier this year, we launched our first professional open source survey. Our goal? To gain deeper perspective about what can be done to make open source—especially as it is used in professional settings—work better for everyone. We wanted to understand what professional users of open source look like and what matters to them. And we wanted to understand the needs, problems, and passions of those who create and maintain the software they use.

download the full survey report

Our hope was that we could find some common ground, a win-win for both those who use and maintain open source software.

We received over 1,200 responses, and now we’re sharing our key findings and more details about our dataset. In our last post, we discovered that if open source maintainers we fairly paid for their work, they’d want to spend much more time working on their projects. How much more? Nearly 50% of respondents said they’d want to work over 21 hours per week. And 17% said they’d work over 40 hours.

With everything we’ve learned so far—that open source is everywhere, professional users are willing to pay for supported projects, and maintainers would work more if well paid—this led us to a few final questions: what exactly are professionals users of open source interested in paying for? What would maintainers be willing to work on if they were paid? And can we uncover a hidden match here?

Today, we’ll learn more about what professional users of open source would be willing to pay for to make the open source projects they are already using more dependable.

Insight 8: Most professional users would pay for regular maintenance, and almost half for timely security updates

We previously saw that reliability and maintenance, security updates, and bug fixes were some of the most important factors for professional users when evaluating open source libraries. We also learned that there is a group of users who care a lot about managing the licensing and IP assurances around the open source projects they use.

But when it comes to opening the checkbook, what matters most to them?

  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of professional open source users also said that’d they’d be willing to pay for regular maintenance and bug fixes.
  • Nearly 50% would pay for timely security updates.
  • 40% would pay for developer support and consulting.
  • 38% would pay for new feature development.

What will subscribers pay for_ (1)

This confirms what we learned earlier, which is that professional users care a lot about the continued maintenance and the security of the open source projects they use—and now we know that they’d be willing to pay for these services too.

As it turns out, of all the possible combinations of responses, the most common was from professional users who would pay for both managed timely security updates and regular maintenance and bug fixes, further emphasizing the value professional users see in support for these activities.

Breaking the data down further, when we look at only the respondents interested in paying the most for supported open source—over $120,000 per year—we see that maintenance, security, and licensing become even more important. In fact, 67% of these respondents said they’d be willing to pay for maintenance and bug fixes, 61% for security updates, and 36% licensing and IP assurances.

One interesting note about the users who indicated that they’d pay for licensing and IP assurances: though they continue to be a small percentage (only 14%), open source licensing really matters to these respondents. In fact, 38% of respondents who said they’d be willing to pay for licensing and IP assurances for their open source software said that their organization would pay over $12,000 per year for open source assurances, making them almost twice as likely to pay over $12,000 per year as the average survey respondent.

All of this is to say, professional users are definitely willing to pay to ensure the software they use is more dependable, particularly around ongoing maintenance, but also including security updates, support and consulting, new feature development, and licensing and IP assurances. The next question is: would maintainers be interested in doing the same things that professional users are willing to pay for?

We’ll dive into this in our next post! In the meantime, let us know if you’d like to receive updates, and follow us on Twitter.

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