SugarCRM: No Trendsetter with Licensing Move

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-02-17 Print this article Print

News Analysis: SugarCRM adopts the Microsoft Community License, but don't look for a rush of open-source companies following SugarCRM's lead, insiders say.

Open-source vendor SugarCRM the week of Feb. 13 became the first outside party to offer its software under the quasi-open-source Microsoft Community License. However, dont expect to see a rush of open-source companies looking to license their products the same way. For example, Shaun Connolly, the vice president of product management for JBoss, based in Atlanta, which last September started working to broaden interoperability between its JEMS (JBoss Enterprise Middleware System) and Microsoft Windows Server, told eWEEK the company already has a clear licensing strategy and sees no need to change or modify that.
Click here to read more about JBoss licensing agreement with Microsoft.
"JBoss relationship with Microsoft is focused on better serving our mutual customers. Our relationship is not focused on a distribution/licensing relationship. The JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite of products is licensed under OSI-approved licenses, primarily the LGPL [Lesser General Public License]," he said. SugarCRM used the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco the week of Feb. 13 to announce that it plans to launch a distribution of its Sugar Suite 4.5 software under the Microsoft Community License, which is part of the Shared Source Initiative through which Microsoft shares some code with customers, partners and governments worldwide. Read more here about SugarCRMs plan to use a Microsoft license for its software. Officials of Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., have said the Community License is based on the popular open-source Mozilla Public License and will be used for collaborative development projects. John Roberts, the CEO of SugarCRM, based in Cupertino, Calif., told eWEEK that he looked for licenses that allowed the reuse and redistribution of code. The company currently supports multiple licenses, from the MPL (Mozilla Public License) to the GNU GPL (General Public License). But the license documentation for the current open-source Sugar Suite 4.0 release states that it is subject to the SugarCRM Public License Version 1.1.3, which is the Mozilla Public License Version 1.1, modified to be specific to SugarCRM. Asked about this, Roberts told eWEEK that the license is the MPL but, as SugarCRM does not have the right to use the Mozilla trademark, it called it SugarCRM. He also maintained that there are no restrictions on redistributing the code and that all SugarCRM is doing is requiring that anyone wanting to redistribute the code remove its trademarks, as they do not have legal rights to those. "There is absolutely nothing to stop anyone else from using this code. All we require is that the powered by SugarCRM attribution be left in place. We are simply unwilling to let someone take the code, strip out all the attributions and authorship, and claim it as their own," Roberts said. Next Page: Custom licenses arent seen as open source.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel