One of the first items discussed when companies start using and leveraging open source is the determination of what, in their IP portfolio, is the unique differentiation between themselves and their competitors. What is, in other words, their “secret sauce.” Companies can then use open source to allow them, and their development, to focus on their secret sauce and to consume, or contribute/donate, non-differentiating software to the open source community. This allows companies to focus their time, talent and resources on those aspects of technology that provide the most innovation to them and their customers.
Some companies, known as Open Core companies, also leverage the idea of “secret sauce” in that they release their code under an Open Source license, but sell “Enterprise Extensions” as commercial products, and keep that technology private and confidential, as their own secret sauce.
But the most important “secret sauce” in Open Source is also the most unrecognized and most misunderstood. Ironically, science fiction understands this secret ingredient better than most.
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