New Atlanta have open sourced their BlueDragon CFML engine under the GPL2.0 open source license. Why do this? Will it work? How open will it be? What should we do? And what should Adobe do?
Why do this? New Atlanta hope to gain buy-in and market share from folks using the product for free. They'll be hoping that the more people who use the product, the more folks will upgrade to New Atlanta commercial licenses and or services. It's a common open source business model (we use the same for FarCry CMS). In the short term, New Atlanta will generate a lot of interest, and will bask in the developer karma associated with "becoming open" -- note to Vince, capitalise on this while you can, it won't last long.
Will it work? Who knows. Its a tough market, and its a business model that we and others have found is very slow to gain traction. We only started to see real buy-in to FarCry Services after about three years of supporting an open source community -- only time will tell if New atlanta can go the distance. The change may not have that much of an impact on their existing revenue stream, given the decision to buy BlueDragon in many instances is not all about price points, but that's me speculating -- I'm not a New Atlanta insider. Certainly there is hope -- just ask mySQL, who were recently acquired by Sun.
How open will it be? Just because you are open source doesn't actually guarantee any sort of community or developer engagement. I strongly doubt the community will contribute anything tangible in terms of code -- ask the guys involved in CFEclipse how much support they have received over the years, even now that the IDE is popular. Communities are fickle things -- they only get involved when they see that others are involved, and when the way to contribute is mapped out for them. BlueDragon is established, has an install base, a seasoned development team, and plenty of infrastructure in place -- its an actual bona fide, production quality, product driving big applications online. If New Atlanta stay strong and invest in the community, there is every chance they will start to see bugs/fixes, increased QA, evangelism and support trickle in. BlueDragon is not the Smith Project.
What should we do? Use ColdFusion -- it's that simple. The more we use it, the more we let other folks know how powerful a platform it is, the better it will be for the whole ColdFusion ecosystem. Now we have the toolkit to push ColdFusion into the same tight spaces as PHP and other free scripting languages.
What should Adobe do? Funnily enough I think Adobe should support New Atlanta, with services, support and even financial contributions. If Adobe ColdFusion is "superior" to BlueDragon, then every installation of BlueDragon Open Source is a potential client for Adobe. If New Atlanta can make inroads into the traditional LAMP (Linux Apache mySQL PHP) community, then its a virtually untapped market for Adobe ColdFusion up sales. This is a great opportunity for Adobe to test the water with a near fully functional ColdFusion Lite (or heaven forbid ColdFusion Express) with little or no risk to their existing business model and no pressure on their internal resources. Let's hope they see the value of the ColdFusion ecosystem and actually invest in this decision, perhaps with a little more enthusiasm than their current investment in CFEclipse.