It has always been possible to solve the puzzle of Red Hat’s success in the software business. By piecing together Red Hat’s open source ecosystem methodology for their own understanding, many businesses have had an eye on Red Hat in how to organize their open source development practices. The idea of community and enterprise editions, for example, owes a lot to the split of Red Hat Linux into Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the Fedora Project.

Yet, there is a difference in how Red Hat started and grew compared to how some newer companies are running their open source-based business. Many offer closed source and proprietary add on components as part of their enterprise offering. Red Hat has always avoided this practice, striving to ship only 100% open source.

As the Fedora Project has grown, it has continued to pioneer open business practices that complement the open development methodology. The business model of taking the best from Fedora to support for seven years as Enterprise Linux lends itself to absorbing other practices from the Fedora community, ones outside of software. In every area, such as software packaging, documentation, translation, and marketing, Fedora’s open and highly visible work develops methodologies that affect the way Red Hat does business into the future.

It is not good enough to just act in this open, visible way. The open source model gains strength from community growth. The size of the community contributes to the quality of the software. This is in the best interests of everyone, including those who are paying actual staff to work actual hours on free software. Especially those people, as they get a force multiplier from efforts in the community, rather than going the road alone.

If it is a good idea to learn and grow business practices from community influence, wouldn’t the rest of the open source methodology concepts apply? The more pioneers of open business practices who are following an open source methodology, the stronger their work is.

One example of this is in the connection between EPEL, RHX, and ISVs. As the Fedora for ISVs page explains, there are a number of valuable gains to be had. By bringing your open source development work out more in to the community, you gain increased awareness, reduced maintenance burden, and a serious head start on the next version of Red Hat’s supported products.

This week, folks from RHX and Fedora’s Community Architecture teams are going to be at OSCON, talking with open source ISVs about getting their software in to Fedora. A strong point we are making is the chance to absorb and contribute to the open business practices, which are centered around the open source we hold in common, strengthed by all our contributions.