Imaging melding open source, security, managed services and a channel program into a single company. At first glance, that's a pretty compelling strategy. But plenty of open source companies have fallen on their faces when they tried to build channel programs.

Simply put, building an open source community (where contributors don't constantly ask about product margins) is far different from building a channel community (where every cent counts). Still, some tech companies are succeeding with that balancing act. Here's a case in point from Untangle.

The security specialist continues to expand its open source community and has also grown its managed service partner program from 10 members to about 60 since September. And more than half of those managed service providers have already sold Untangle's security solutions into their customer bases, according to Raul Mujica, VP of product management and marketing.

Part of Untangle's momentum can be traced to traditional small business IT consultants -- rather than open source integrators. For instance, All Covered, a solution provider that serves small businesses with 20 to 100 employees, has embraced Untangle's security solutions as a tool to troubleshoot customer networks.

All Covered has about 20 offices and 300 employees -- 200 of whom are consultants. One of those consultants embraced Untangle to identify and correct a customer network problem in LA, according to All Covered VP of Marketing Nick Pegley. From that simple beginning, All Covered and Untangle have gradually become close working partners, notes Pegley.

Since Untangle is privately held, it's difficult to say how well the company is performing. But anecdotal evidence suggests Untangle's partner program is succeeding where so many open source companies have previously failed.