Era of Open source SaaS Alternatives

I was recently talking to a friend, and we thought of collaborating on a project. He quickly sent a link that resembled Calendly - a popular calendar scheduling app. However, it says "Calendso"- an open-source alternative to Calendly.

I have been using Open source software since my college days, and it is quite educational to learn from Open source.

Several Open source companies have built successful commercial businesses over the Open source product/solution. But the trend has slightly changed with SaaS in the picture.

SaaS has picked up in many consumer and enterprise verticals. And Open source, too, has changed a lot over time. As of today, most open source projects have SaaS services for users to choose from if they don't want to self-host.

But these days, I see a new trend of "Open-source-SaaS-alternatives."

What is this Open source alternative?

Open-source alternatives are free, source available products. The product can be self-hosted anywhere. These software's are primarily telling that they offer the same functionality as popular paid-only-SaaS products. Founders doing OSS alternatives are leveraging the OSS developer love, distribution capabilities. OSS alternatives always existed previously for paid software.

How is this different from commercial open source companies?

Commercial Open source companies like Elastic, MongoDB, Redis, Confluent, Neo4j, CockroachDB (B2B and not consumer-focused) created the OSS projects. Eventually, they started selling enterprise features, having their own SaaS.

On the other hand, "Open-source-alternatives" are targeted at existing popular paid-only SaaS businesses like DataDog, Firebase (part of GCP), Retool, Calendly(B2C), etc. It is because they already established the market or have a customer base. The fun part is, some of these services offer these OSS projects as hosted services too.

So this is like searching on, but the catch is open source, self-host-able, more awesome one can contribute to the codebase.

Some Examples

I found more developer tools, SaaS products. Very few consumer-open-source alternatives.

And I believe the equation might change if more companies and founders understand the OSS model of distributing their products, leading to more B2C products taking this route.

Developer Tools:

Supabase is a Firebase alternative. Firebase — a real-time app platform, is a suite of services from Google Cloud which offer Auth, Hosting, NoSQL datastore, primarily for mobile. It is popular among mobile devs, especially when they are building auth. However, it is a niche picking up as more and more OSS projects with different Firebase products are coming — like AppWritenhost.

Rudderstack is an open-source alternative for Twilio's Segment, a popular SaaS service for product analytics.

Signoz is an open-source alternative for Datadog, an app monitoring service. It is also a YC startup based out of India.

fonos is an open-source alternative for Twilio, which offers SaaS services like SMS, Auth, Video.

Consumer Solutions

Calendso is an open-source alternative for Calendly. The surprising thing is, it looks the same.

nocodb is an open-source alternative for Airtable. They seem to have curated great community tutorials on deploying on various platforms, a discord group.

mattermost is an open-source alternative for Slack, but then Slack has so many OSS competitors like Zulip, Element, Rocket chat.

chatwoot is an open-source alternative for Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud.

focalboard is an open-source alternative for Trelloasananotion.

Final Thoughts

While I found these solutions great for enthusiasts, some of them are replicas of their SaaS counterparts, which is okay, but it'd be great to see differentiation or specialty.

Also, SaaS has always made it easy for users is its user experience, security, support, etc. However, self-hosting needs some expertise, and it adds additional effort in maintaining, managing, monitoring the software.

Let us see where all this goes!