November 2023: our campaign to fund OpenFOAM in 2023 has exceeded €250k. €250k was the target in previous years but in 2023 we doubled this to €500k in order to meet the increasing demands of the OpenFOAM users. OpenFOAM is funded through commitments from supporting organisations to fund maintenance. To meet our new target we need further support from organisations who are commercially dependent on OpenFOAM and who are making significant savings in proprietary licence fees.
Open Source CFD with OpenFOAM
OpenFOAM is mature, open source software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which is trusted by many thousands of engineers and scientists in industry and academia worldwide. OpenFOAM is free to use, avoiding the high licence costs of proprietary CFD software (estimated at $20,000 per user per year and rising rapidly for parallel simulations). The source code can be freely extended and reveals the workings of OpenFOAM in a transparent manner.
Funding Open Source Software
Despite a zero licence cost, open source software is usually funded by the organisations who benefit from it. The Linux Foundation, for example, has a membership consisting of: 16 Platinum investing $500k each (total $8M per year); 19 Gold at $100k each (= $1.9M); and approximately 1200 Silver at $5k-$20k (= $12M – estimated). Another example is LetsEncrypt, a free Certificate Authority providing TLS certificates for secure internet communication with HTTPS. It has a budget of $4M+ from sponsors of the Internet Security Research Group, for work which includes maintenance of their certbot client software, consisting of 85k lines of python code.
At 1.6M lines of C++ code, OpenFOAM is at least an order of magnitude more complex than the certbot client. Yet in 2022, The OpenFOAM Foundation received €220k of maintenance funding. Admittedly the Foundation set a funding target of €250k to sustain the OpenFOAM team at existing levels.
However, there is a burgeoning demand for “more” of everything in OpenFOAM from its user base. To meet the demand, the OpenFOAM team needs to grow and, with it, the level of maintenance funding, with the following changes for 2023.
- The notional funding target for 2023 has increased to €500k.
- The maintenance funding levels are Platinum (€100k per year); Gold (€25k); Silver (€5k).
Why Fund OpenFOAM?
For the open source model to work effectively, there has to be some “giving” to offset the “taking”. If some organisations are willing to give, then other organisations can do the same in the interests of the common good. Inevitably, the more funding there is for OpenFOAM maintenance, the better it will be for everyone, including your organisation.
Clearly, the amount of funding should be commensurate with the level of benefit to the organisation. Therefore we offer three levels of funding correspond to three levels of benefit: Silver is for organisations with individual CFD users, Gold is for organisations with a dedicated CFD group and Platinum is suited to organisations that depend on OpenFOAM at a strategic level.
The funding at the different levels relates approximately to 10-20% of the cost of licences of some proprietary CFD software (based on typical single user, serial licences starting at $25k per year, group/parallel licences of $100k-200k and corporate licences of $1M).
In addition to the principal benefit above, all supporting organisations are invited to join the The OpenFOAM Hub, an online messaging platform. The Hub allows the supporters to discuss active developments with the OpenFOAM team, including at the online Q+A events which include talks and demonstrations. Gold supporters receive assistance to help their CFD group maintain important analysis capabilities and workflows. The Foundation works with Platinum supporters to achieve long term strategic goals with OpenFOAM. See the maintenance funding page for further details.