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ConsultingTimes.com: Solving the E-mail Crunch (Interview with Sendmail, Inc.'s Chairman)

Oct 12, 2001, 23:11 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Stephen E. Harris)
CT: What determines what portions remain in the commercial application and what gets fed back to the sendmail open source?

Olsen: We do, and it's an interesting problem. Let me tell you how we deal with it.

The hybrid model deals with this using fairly traditional product line thinking. In the open source we use product lines for the development community. The commercial line is a product line for people who use this to run businesses. We've got some real smart product managers who argue about what goes in which product line. That's not unique. In fact, any company that has multiple product lines has this problem. Basically, we argue on the basis of what the target users in these segments need.

Now, there are a couple of other rules. Anything that has to do with standards has to go everywhere, of course. Anything that's contributed by the community of open source users must be fed back to that community as part of the open source. We sometimes put some of the commercial innovations into the open source because we want to spur open source development. For instance, the APIs are developed commercially to do very efficient content filtering. We published that in the open source, and that encourages the development community to come up with new, imaginative ways to do mail filtering.

We've also developed commercial filters -- both on a consulting basis and on a commercial product basis -- that are part of the commercial product line. But they can be plugged into the open source because the APIs are compatible.

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