Openhab for business purposes?

commercial
business
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f1e5aacfd30> #<Tag:0x00007f1e5aacfbf0>
(benny_renkens) #1

Are there any companies out there which provide “a validated hardware combi” in combination with OpenHab to customers as their core business?

Over the last years I’ve seen more companies trying to jump into the Home Automation business, so there are large comapies who believe in the market. When I lookup the actuall possibilities and technology they offer, I always come to the conclusion: OpenHab already does this and is far more flexible so I don’t have to bind myself to a brand.

I get so many feedback on the system I have, which is really nothing fancy yet, of people who want to have such system but just don’t know where to start. Even if they knew, they don’t have the knowledge to setup / configure / debug such setup. I’m of the opnion that there is a need for “companies” who provide the service and make the stuff work at peoples homes and come to fix / extend it if necessary. Which in return will deliver a lot of developments back to the openhab community.

  • Are there already people doing this?
  • Are more people convinced that the “need” for such a service is emerging in the current society?
  • Is it encouraged by the founders / owners of the Openhab platform to sell it?
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(Kai Kreuzer) #2

Hi Benny,

As the founder of openHAB let me try to answer your questions from my perspective:

openHAB is done by and for the community and in contrast to any commercial solution, it is positioned to be free and totally open. There are definitely no plans to commercialise openHAB in any way.

I understand that setting up the system is tedious and it would be nice to get it pre-packaged with a hardware. Actually, there is such an offer: http://www.tinkerforge.com/en/blog/2015/3/11/red-brick-now-with-openhab-and-nagios, but you will notice that it is only interesting for Makers, not for end users.

As written in Internet of Things ==> Openhab Should be Intranet of things, I rather see openHAB efforts to provide images and containers that could be installed on different hardware boards. You might then get pre-installed SD cards with a RaspPi and a case for example in the end.

I think that is as far as it goes for openHAB regarding a “product packaging” - it will rather be a DIY package for a jump start, not a home automation end user product as such.

If a company would want to sell openHAB as a product, there were quite some obstacles:

  • Even if you have software installed on the hardware, you still have to configure you system, which means browsing the wiki, editing textual files and swearing a lot (so I was told ;-)). This is not really “mass” compatible, right?
  • You would have to support this product. How could you guarantee that bindings work? With which devices exactly? etc. I would not want to work in the call center of such a company :open_mouth:
  • You will need to update it remotely, so you need cloud infrastructure etc.
  • Some of the code in openHAB has been implemented by reverse engineering protocols - this might cause some legal risks when being used commercially, while it is usually fine to use for private purposes.

That’s why my recommendation for commercially interested companies is to build an own solution on top of Eclipse SmartHome: The Eclipse Foundation makes sure that the code is clean and good to be used in commercial offerings. It gives companies the chance to do their own branding, while participating from the developments of others - it is a neutral place for collaboration, even with potential competitors. You will find some of my reasoning at http://kaikreuzer.blogspot.de/2014/06/openhab-20-and-eclipse-smarthome.html.

Best regards,
Kai

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Announcing a crowdfunded openHAB based central
(pflodo) #3

I agree that to shrinkwrap OpenHab and try to sell it as a product will have the obstacles @Kai mentions, but I could see that there is room for a business to sell ‘homeautomation’ and to use OpenHab at the core of their solution. They could pick only handful of bindings to support, (and in addition to installation fee also sell hardware platform/displays/sensors, yearly maintenance etc).

I don’t see that such a business would be against anything in this project and indeed if such a business existed it would make sense to be friendly to this community by contributing back to the project. eg Pay for my.openhab for their customers. They would also be the perfect candidate to maintain an automatic installation/update script.

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(Kai Kreuzer) #4

@Peter, this is exactly what Eclipse SmartHome is about. Note that openHAB 2 IS a solution based on Eclipse SmartHome. You can consider openHAB 2 to be a simple DIY packaging of Eclipse SmartHome - the code of the runtime etc. is at Eclipse, not at openHAB2, which is really just a wrapper.

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(Michael Aschenborn) #5

@Kai would it legally be OK to preinstall openHAB in a default-configuration on a hardware? For example if synology would preinstall it in its app-list. They have a lot of opensource-projects there without being responsible for the support…

Michael

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(pflodo) #6

OK OK :smile:
We have to remember here we are talking about a hypothetical situation neither of us are pursuing. I personally only have diy interests.

@mashborn OpenHab is quite clearly licensed, and that license in the end determines what can be legally done with it. And nothing said in this forum about intent or preference or aim changes that.

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(Michael Aschenborn) #7

@peter, but these are interesting questions…

  • is it allowed and wanted that someone sells professional support/help for openHAB?
  • is it allowed and wanted that the software comes preinstalled on hardware?
  • is it allowed and wanted if there would be offered professional educational trainings?

Nobody wants to make money with the eclipse licemsed software - but the question is: Is a commercial ecosystem around allowed? Could I write a book “How to start openHAB” - I would think so?!?

Am I wrong?

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(Michael Aschenborn) #8

Good example, what I mean:


I would like to see openHAB to be integrated in the synology Package-Manager…

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(Nathan Stratton) #9

Yes on all, but making money with open source is an art form. My last company built a WebRTC Gateway and used some open source libs. The biggest thing I can recommend is having a good IP attorney, you need to understand the differences between MIT, Apache, GPL, etc licences and how it effects what you can and can’t do with the software. In the end using some open source worked well for us, and I think well for the open source projects we supported. We make sure that we had a healthy relationship with the projects we worked with and contributed back all our changes. We also spent quite a big of time and money fixing and helping out the projects we worked with.

I think there is room out there for someone to make money with OpenHab, I just hope that when / if someone does, that they do it the right way.

2 Likes

(benny_renkens) #10

Thanks for all your comments. I must honestly admit I don’t know the borderline between openhab and Eclipse Smart Home. I’ll look into it. For now, the install I have never had that much hickups so I even didn’t study any of the software involved.

Maybe I should have clarified better: I wouldn’t want to “sell openhab”, I didn’t make it so I should by no means be rewarded for it.

I was thinking about a “service around home automation with openhab as main control software” like @peter and @mashborn indicate. It’s exactly the solving of the issues which @Kai mentions, which are worth the money for end-users.

If one wants to support such system I would at least:

  • Select a subset of hardware which I have extensively tested myself. i.e. I wouldn’t sell anyone a certain brand of Z-Wave devices which have broken down on my, while I have very good experience with another brand.
  • Then I’d only support a subset of bindings of course. I’d basline all the software I’d use to guarantee performance from one install to another.
  • Automated test environments & creating a secure remote login are a must.

So I was thinking more of a performance / integration / install service rather than making a package and sell it over the internet.

Regards,

Benny

1 Like

(Kai Kreuzer) #11

IANAL, so don’t take anything of the following for any business decision :smile: :

From an openHAB license perspective, definitely yes. BUT as mentioned, you might have to deal with some other issues: You need to license the JVM from Oracle, you might need to become member of the ZWave, ZigBee or EnOcean alliance, because you are suddenly selling a product that supports their protocols, etc. It usually is much easier if you design it in a way that the user himself installs the stuff himself, then the legal issues are much fewer.

Is a commercial ecosystem around allowed?

Definitely yes. But from my point of view, it must be a ecosystem of commercial offers and not a (single!) commercial ecosystem offer, i.e. there shouldn’t a single company with commercial interests be in control of the ecosystem.

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(pflodo) #12

I think i understand where you @kai is coming from. As it is opensource you cant stop anybody from doing what they legally can do. But one major reason of the split into Eclipse was to allow anybody to create a new project or product using the same core, that would naturally lead into a stronger core with more submitters.

If you haven’t got one already you might want to think about making a logo and naming guideline that covers how you want the brand used. If I were to offer installation help can I use the logo on my website? Or if I fork OpenHab can I call it OpenHab Pro or OpenHab 3. Personally I think the answers should be Yes and No to those questions.

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(Kai Kreuzer) #13

Yes, I would agree. As long as a company does not present itself as if it would own openHAB in some way (like offering an “openHAB Pro”), but clearly offers services for and around openHAB, that should be all fine.
Thinking about guidelines etc. makes sense, but usually I tend to wait with such activities until there is really a need for it. So if someone of you is about to start a company and needs clarification on such questions, feel free to PM me :slight_smile:

1 Like

(xavierl) #14

hello everyone

as a small business we plan to offer home automation service in general.

selection and installation of good hardware
selection and configuation of good management box and software

actually we test 2 solutions openhab and jeedom.

i feel that in actual state. jeedom is more user friendly for a beginner.
openhab have the interest of being vendor independant.

actually we are testing the 2 systems to check what to recommend.

during the last weeks i have been more looking around jeedom which is very advanced now
but still maybe i will feel i am wrong and offering openhab because of being vendor neutral.
or maybe because it is more sustainable for us

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(Michael Aschenborn) #15

There’s room for openHAB specific business-services!
I would have payed for a 2-day-training to get a good start in openHAB
I would pay someone for writing me professional rules for my heating+blinds!
I would pay someone for checking the security of my installation.
I would pay someone for configuring my z-wave-components correctly (and I want to understand, how it works)
So I dont talk of commercialisation of openHAB-software but of professional/commercial services around.

I’m living in a passive house and there’s a conceptual bug in the heating-system.
It would be fixable, if I put the heating on openHAB.
But then I need an engineer, that calculates and defines some parameters and conditions for me
And then I need an openHAB rule developer, who creates a robust logic that failsafe controls my heating system…
I don’t know if my knowledge in rule-writing would be good enough.

3 Likes

(Nathan Stratton) #16

@mashborn I understand where you coming from, I moved from Misterhouse to OpenHab and was surprised that I was not able to find people in the community who were open to being paid to do OpenHab work. As an example there is almost no activity on Bountysource and posts on the lists for paid developers were never answered.

As far as your heating-system thoughts go, I am also right there with ya. I am building a new house and wanted OpenHab to be more in control of all aspects. I ended up going with a hybrid model, the system can operate without OpenHab, however each of the 19 zones can still be controled.

P.S. You can donate directly to OpenHab and I highly recommend anyone who uses it in production to help out in any way they can.

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(Tomtibo) #17

I would have payed someone for a specific binding development. Then, all the community benefit from It!

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(Mike Moore) #18

I am working on doing just that in South Africa. The opportunity was clear since 2014 when I started on HA projects: open source, extensibility and essentially future proofed through bindings. However there is a level of complexity in getting it working, debugging and ensuring resilience which can put a commercial service based business at risk.

Having said that I am continuing down that path with a go to market strategy as of this writing.

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(James Richardson) #19

Hello Mr Kreuzer. I along with a business partner are about to start a home-automation company and need clarification on using OpenHAB for commercial purposes. How do I PM you???

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(Kai Kreuzer) #20

Dear James,

Simply PM me here on the forum or send me a mail to kai@openhab.org.

Cheers,
Kai

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