Open source software made an entry into the information technology industry through the most logical vector — by supporting developers and operations professionals who in many cases wrote the software themselves and shared it with industry colleagues.
Over time, the open source software community has evolved, and while application developers continue to be the single most important group of contributors to the community that make projects possible and technologies viable, the base of users that leverages open source software has broadened substantially.
Today, the portfolio of open source software has also expanded considerably and includes projects that are frequently used for mission-critical workloads. Any interruption of availability due to an unplanned outage, a newly found security vulnerability, or simply due to a configuration issue that is not easily resolved by on-site staff, can lead to expensive downtime for the organization. That impacts not only the IT department and internal users, but potentially extending to freeze access or ability to complete transactions by external customers and partners.
With the vast majority of open source software projects there is no professional support offered by default; the usual path to gain professional support is by signing up for a maintenance contract at incremental cost. That support usually is specific to a given version or versions of an open course project and, in some cases, may include a curated version of the community software that brings additional value to the customer, or strong industry-specific expertise that a vendor can bring to the relationship