Two years ago, we decided that we need to find a sustainable business model for IdentityServer to ensure longevity and the ongoing work that is needed for such a larger scale project.
There are various business models on top of FOSS like “open core” where you sell commercial add-ons, or building a support/services organization around it. None of those aligned with our long-term plans.
After several discussions with various people, we came to the conclusion that for our case this will just not be possible with a typical OSI approved license. So, we decided to create our own.
We wanted to do this in three steps.
First, we started making sure that IdentityServer is not free anymore for production environments to find out if anybody is actually willing to pay the license fee for the software. Let’s face it, if the only reason people are using our software is that it is free, maybe it doesn’t need to exist.
Next, once we saw sufficient amount of positive feedback, we introduced the Community Edition shortly thereafter. The idea was to give companies and individuals that make less than one million USD gross annual revenue access to the commercial version of IdentityServer. The feature set was pretty much the same as the previous FOSS version plus the ongoing maintenance and bug fixing.
I am happy to say that in the last 12 months we’ve given away roughly the same number of Community Edition licenses as we have sold commercial licenses.
Now after one year we have proven that IdentityServer can be sustainable, and we are ready for the final step. Starting with v6, we will no longer have any constraints on IdentityServer Community Edition. This means it will be feature equivalent to our standard Enterprise Edition.
We hope you build something awesome with it!
We feel that a company or individual with more than one million USD gross annual revenue can absolutely afford our standard licenses. With this approach the bigger companies ensure sustainability, while the smaller ones can get started at a very low price point (or for free).
We call this the "Fair Trade Software License" and we think this could be the way forward for many of the popular FOSS projects today. Otherwise, we risk ending up with an ever-growing graveyard of abandoned OSS software in the .NET ecosystem.