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Categories: Apache Casandra Cloudera facebook Hadoop

Can you build a business around #opensource #software? You don’t have to look much further than @RedHat or @Cloudera to know that the answer is yes.

If the company is run right, it can take customers from established players and grow to the point where it’s poised to go public.

That’s what’s happening at San Mateo, Calif.-based #cloud #database #supplier @DataStax, according to my July 10 interview with CEO @BillyBosworth. (I have no financial interest in the securities mentioned in this post).

Before getting into that, let’s look at how to make money with open source software — which is concocted by unpaid developers who contribute their time and code to various projects. The code is available for free to everyone — with some stipulations.

But companies can make money in this business by building versions of the technology that can work virtually without glitches in demanding environments like corporate applications where downtime costs big money.

RedHat — with $2.9 billion in 2017 sales, $259 million in net income, and a $25.8 billion market cap — did this with the Linux operating system and other open source tools and Cloudera did the same with Hadoop — a distributed database. Sadly, Cloudera has a less distinguished financial record — with $367 million in sales, a whopping $386 million net loss, and a $2.1 billion market cap, according to Morningstar.

DataStax is doing the same kind of thing with Apache Cassandra, a distributed database designed for the hybrid cloud. As a private company, I don’t know its revenues — though the company says they’re over $100 million, it’s probably losing money and its value is unknown.

Cassandra, which was originally developed by Facebook engineers, fell under the umbrella of the Apache Software Foundation starting in 2009. But in 2016, there was a parting of the ways between Apache and DataStax, according to the Register, which reports that new competitors are emerging such as ScyllaDB.

Bosworth, a former football coach who hails from Weirton, West Virginia and majored in computer science at University of Louisville on a football scholarship spent six years at Quest Software, where he was VP and GM of the database business unit.

Bosworth got solid preparation for his current role at Quest where “the database business grew from supporting traditional relational databases to a portfolio that included tools for cloud, NoSQL, columnar, and Hadoop databases, and business intelligence offerings,” he said.

Bosworth became CEO in May 2011 and by July 2018, the company had grown from below $1 million in revenue and 25 employees to “more than $100 million in revenue and over 500 employees in 15 to 20 countries.”