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Re: Commercial versus Community support at Subversion

From: Stefan Sperling <stsp_at_elego.de>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 15:34:33 +0100

On Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 08:01:56AM -0500, Benson Margulies wrote:
> Hello SVN development community,
> Yesterday, a sales person from a company which I will not name here
> sent us an email message that I will quote, below.
> There's nothing wrong with companies selling the services of
> contributors. However, this email message claims that the 'only' way
> that an issue is going to get addressed is by paying them $25K for a
> support contract.
> If there were true, and I don't believe it for a moment, it would be a
> serious community problem from an ASF standpoint. Since I don't
> believe it's true, on the other hand, I'm sending this along in the
> hopes that you will take the opportunity to clarify to the user
> community that the Subversion development community is not a captive
> of any particular commercial organization.
> I would be happy to provide the entire message to the PMC.

It is true that some companies (collabnet, elego, wandisco, possibly others)
offering consulting and support services around Subversion have Subversion
committers on staff. Of course, these companies will try to get their own
developers to tackle bugs of interest to their customers with high priority.

However, any information about such bugs is communicated via standard
channels the community provides. For instance, Subversion developers
sometimes file an issue based on an internal customer bug report,
with customer-specific data removed or replaced.
The process followed from there on is the standard community-driven process,
so the resulting fixes are vetted by the community just like any other bugfix.

This is in the best interest of customers, because they will receive
the bugfix in an officially blessed Subversion release.
It is also in the best interest of the community because bugs found
within companies who can afford to pay for support contracts get fixed
for everyone. And the fixes are made with the consent of the community.

However, it also means that fixes may not be made in the way envisioned
by a customer, in case the community disagrees with what the customer wants.
In which case the customer may still have the option of getting a custom
Subversion distribution with a custom fix from the company, maintained
without community involvement. While this option exists as a fallback,
it has so far never been demanded by any customer of the company I work
for (elego). In all cases so far, customers were happy with the resolution
obtained via community involvement. There is a strong desire within elego
to keep working with the community in this way.

I'd expect other companies to have a similar desire, so the message you
are quoting surprises me. It sounds like your sales contact is trying to
prevent you from relying on the community for bug fixing in order to
close a deal. Your option of relying on the community is being downplayed
as impractical, while in reality the community does not discriminate against
users who have not bought a support contract.

There has in fact been a long history of community-driven bugfixes in the
Subversion project, made by developers on company payrolls as well as
independent developers.
If you'd like some evidence, I could dig up log entries and related email
threads of community-driven bugfixes I have made myself. Just let me know.

BTW, have you tried bringing up the technical problem you are facing
on the users@ list?

Received on 2010-12-23 15:35:16 CET

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