SugarCRM: No Trendsetter with Licensing Move

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-02-17

SugarCRM: No Trendsetter with Licensing Move

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.

Custom Licenses Arent Open


Others in the community say that, as SugarCRM has modified the MPL for its own purposes and has not submitted it to the Open Source Initiative for approval, it is not an accepted open-source license.

In fact some, like Peter Yared, the CEO of ActiveGrid in San Francisco, said they believe that such custom open-source licenses are in the interests of the publishers rather than their communities.

"What we need are [fewer] licenses, not more, and we definitely dont need open-source licenses with company names in them," he told eWEEK.

Bill Hilf, Microsofts director of platform technology strategy, told eWEEK that Microsoft and SugarCRM have also entered into a technical collaboration agreement that is designed to enhance interoperability between the Windows Server platform and the SugarCRM line of products.

This would focus on improved SugarCRM support for IIS (Internet Information Services) and optimization for Active Directory and Microsoft SQL Server, including SQL Express, SQL Server Workgroup and SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Hilf said.

"Some 35 percent of SugarCRMs customers are on Windows Server already, so finding a way to work together that serves them best was our target for this. It does not change any of plans for Microsoft Dynamics CRM," Hilf said. Some of those mutual customers are eager for greater interoperability between the two companies, he said.

David Schmidgall, an IT manager for Superior Industries, a manufacturer of conveying systems and components based in Morris, Minn., agreed, saying that the company, which has been running its business on Microsoft and Sugar Professional for some time, expects this collaboration to improve its back-end database integration and streamline its system administration.

JBoss Connolly said he is not hearing requests for a distribution designed for mutual customers and which uses a Shared Source license.

But, that being said, "Microsoft has absolutely become more open to blending the value of open source into its broader strategy. In its relationship with JBoss, Microsoft has been supportive of our licensing strategy and choice of licenses," he said.

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