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I think there is more to this than that, though. Software companies usually run R&D at about 10% of revenue. So, these support contracts are really returning only 10% of their cost. And the companies who are buying the support contracts are are usually big. The money they spend on 10 developers for support could pay for 100 developers once you add in license fees, etc, etc.

Long, long ago when I worked at Nortel (a now defunct, but then huge telecommunications company), they used to pay millions of dollars a year to Cygnus to support a particular embedded version of GCC. This, despite the fact that Nortel had more than 10k programmers on staff including a compiler team!

I think the real reason these support contracts exist is because companies (even large ones) don't want to dilute their focus maintaining projects that are peripheral to their core business. It's not so much a technical problem, or a money problem -- it's a management problem. They can't scale out to handle every little thing.

I think OSS is a red herring in this conversation. Most companies just don't care about that. They don't want to support it themselves (even if they are big enough to do so), and they need to have confidence in the company that provides the support. Build that company (hint: you need to be sales heavy!) and you could sell Postgresql just as easily as any other database. Of course breaking into an entrenched area in Enterprise software is always going to be difficult, so I'm not sure how successful you would be with this particular product, but you get my point, I think.




There are several companies which sell PostgreSQL like that with EnterpriseDB and 2ndQuadrant being the two largest ones. It seems like these companies are at least semi-successful since they hire more people all the time. So I agree with your idea, that you just need to convince the enterprise customers that you are a reliable partner.




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