More than a decade ago when the KDE project was born a small group of individuals setup the necessary resources so the project could succeed. The most important bit was the cvs server, where the source code actually lived. But on top of that were countless other services such as a bug tracker, web servers, mailinglist server and more. Part of the success of KDE was these services. They were not just for one application, but they were setup in such as a way that if a young energetic developer wanted to contribute a new library or application it could be easily assimilated without the need for him to setup all of the services himself. In trade for following the KDE way the application got fame, contributions and a host of services.
But there will never be another project like KDE and what allowed KDE to flourish and grow in the early days was one of the reasons I stopped contributed to it1. For the past half a decade there have been more and more online services. Today that same young developer wouldn't add his application to the KDE ecosystem when he could use any number of online services such as GitHub, Gitorious, SourceForce, GoogleCode, and the various Google apps.
A few weeks ago Jason over at 37signals wrote a blog about sneaking into the fortune 500. It has been rattling around in my head ever sense. In 2010 I created a GitHub clone called GitHaven for corporations intranet, but while there was interest and money in GitHub:Fi it is pennies compared to GitHub.com. Chatting with a startup recently we were discussing how they were using GitHub, Dropbox and probably would use GoogleApps for email. Just like services for open source projects there was now general services that startups have been taking advantage of and while they were kicking and screaming corporations were starting to use online tools too.
Five years ago there was a mad dash to create an online version of office. While it didn't take off a quickly as so many predicted (it is still a success) the corporate version of GMail did what no one had been able to do for more than a decade, replace Exchange as the choice for mail server. Once you can replace Exchange you can replace anything.
We are at the mist of a land grab for some extremely valuable property. Anything generic that was once done by corporate IT departments will be moved to the web. This means that IT departments will be shortly be going under a revolution and those companies that provide IT services could be very profitable as they scale services across many companies.
1 When I started developing my web browser Arora in 2007 I put my code on GitHub and used GoogleCode for the bugtracker, wiki (GitHub didn't have either of these back then), website, and Google groups for the mailinglist. There was no value in joining KDE's infrastructure and I saw being forced to use kdelibs as a downside as my application could no longer be distributed on Windows or OSX, the KDE release cycle was too long for my application, and to top it off while KDE had been one of the first groups to switch to SVN from CVS earlier in the decade it was not making the leap to Git in any hurried pace (they have sense switched).