Yesterday Dries Buytaert, original creator of open source content management software Drupal, wrote a blog post highlighting how open source can play a major role in enterprise SaaS. In his post, he points out to SaaS being dominated by proprietary players and talks about how open source can play a significant role in avoiding vendor lock-in.
At the same time, I think we have an opportunity to go beyond that, and to redefine the Software as a Service model based on Open Source values, almost exactly like we started doing 10+ years ago with off-the-shelf software. Almost all Software as a Service providers employ a proprietary model — they might allow you to export your data, but they usually don’t allow you to export their underlying code. While a lot of these services might be built on Open Source components, they have a lot more in common with proprietary software vendors than Open Source projects or companies.
There is room for Open Source companies to disrupt this model, and it is probably not something that can be done without the help of Open Source companies.