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> The secret sauce is providing a good product and create a business where some of the users would pay to have something more, like support and/or an Enterprise edition.

I was wondering about this, as it's not explicit in the article: What is the business model that makes money for Docker and MongoDB? From MongoDB's website I gather they have some "Enterprise" things, but they want me to give them my personal data just to access a "datasheet" describing this. Docker's "Enterprise" offering seems to be a mix of support and hosting.

So is that it? Support, hosting, and donations from Big Business?

The article also says: "Thousands of people used RethinkDB, often in business contexts, but most were willing to pay less for the lifetime of usage than the price of a single Starbucks coffee", but I don't understand what those users would have payed for. What was the product being sold? All I can gather from the article is some cloudy hosty database-as-a-service thing that might have made money but never shipped.

Support. Notwithstanding more widely accepted benefits of support like a direct line to the product's experts and in some cases, developers, big orgs are political tinderboxes and you're always one bad downtime away from an internal catastrophe, let alone an outage that affects customers. It's therefore often politically wise for decision-makers to purchase support even in cases where the risk analysis might show that internal talent resolve or work around most issues.

This is a variation of the "no one ever got fired for IBM" trope, and is in fact a big moneymaker for the likes of IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and the like, even in situations where the standard notions of vendor lock-in may not even apply.

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