CA Moves with New Open-Source Licensing for Content, Database Projects

Computer Associates strays away from the GPL for its open-source Plone content management application as well as its Ingres Enterprise Relational Database, released Monday to the community.

Computer Associates International Inc. will use its annual CA World user conference in Las Vegas on Monday to make a slew of open-source announcements, including establishing a new open-source foundation that will support Plone, an out-of-the-box content management system built on the free Zope Application server; unveiling a new open- source license, and placing a version of Ingres, CAs flagship DBMS, under it.

Computer Associates will also announce the creation of the CA Trusted Open Source License (CA-TOSL), a derivative of the Common Public License, that will be available from Opensource.org. CAs Ingres Enterprise Relational Database will be released into the open-source community under this new license.

CA and Zope plan to provide customers with scalable, open-source content management solutions that are compatible with relational database technology and meet enterprise demands for performance, data persistence and manageability.

Plone is a system for managing Web content suitable for project groups, communities and intranets. The Plone interface has been translated into over 30 languages, and tools exist for managing multilingual content and the group carefully follows standards for usability and accessibility.

Plone has until now been an open-source project licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the same license that Linux uses. This has allowed developers to use Plone without a license fee, and to improve the product.

/zimages/5/28571.gifThe SCO Group Inc. claims that the GNU General Public License is unconstitutional. Click here to read more about the legal attack on the GPL.

But that is all changing with the formation of the new Plone Foundation, which has started the process of having IP rights under the GPL assigned back to the Foundation. That process is governed by a legal agreement that has already been signed and executed by the contributors.

"Some 90 percent of that code has already been assigned back to the foundation. The reason they are doing this is that the community wants to see Plone grow," Sam Greenblatt, the senior vice president and chief architect of CAs Linux Technology Group, told eWEEK in an interview ahead of CA World.

The source code and intellectual property is being moved into the foundation, which will own the intellectual property rights to Plone and which will support and license it, under either the Common Public License or a new type of license approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), he said.

"The reason we are doing this is so that they [the Foundation] can actually also do a commercial license of the Plone software. Plone will therefore no longer be offered under the GPL license," Greenblatt said, adding that the move was similar to what IBM had done with Apache when it set up the Apache Software Foundation, so that Big Blue could have the Apache software license in order to do Websphere.

"We are doing the same with Plone. No, we are not controlling Plone in any way, shape or form. What we are doing is showing an interest in Plone in order to be able to further it to the next level," he said.

According to Greenblatt, the big problem with the GPL license was that when embedded, the code it licensed became a derivative work. Any product, whether proprietary or not, that used any of that code even just to back up or make calls would have to be open sourced and given back to the community.

Using another license would allow this to be embedded without that code becoming infected or viral, Greenblatt said. "I dont want to take my commercial code and have to open-source the entire source for CA products. The new license will still require that derivative works always have to be given back to the Foundation. To use Plone under the new license you will have to assign your rights back to the Foundation.

For example, CA on Monday will announce BrightStor Document Manager, a new addition to the BrightStor family of storage management solutions, which combines open source technology from Plone with CAs BrightStor Portal to provide customers with an easy-to-use, cost effective document management solution.

"But what we want to avoid is, say, to take a product like our BrightStor Document Manager that will use the Plone engine. To then be forced to have to give back the BrightStor source because of that is not realistic. But, at the same time, we want to continue to support and embrace the concept of open source," Greenblatt said.

For its part, CA will contribute code and a dedicated team of engineers to the Plone Foundation and will also utilize releases from the Foundation. "We will be creating a distribution thats integrated into CAs management software to have a complete set of storage management solutions," he said.

There was also "nothing sinister" behind these moves and the goal was to have Plone grow and the money raised by the Foundation would be channeled back to the community to enhance the product, he said.

Plone can interoperate with most relational database systems, open source and commercial, and runs on a vast array of platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris and BSD. In fact, the NASA Web site for the Mars Rover is running on Plone, Greenblatt said.

Both Greenblatt and Mark Barrenechea, the senior vice president of product development for CA, are on the nine-member Plone Foundation board, along with Alan Runyan of Enfold Technology, who is board president; Alexander Limi of Plone Solutions AS, who is board vice president; Matt Hamilton of Netsight Internet Solutions, who is treasurer; Geoff Davis, the secretary; and Robert Boulanger of BlueDynamics GmbH; Bernard Buehlmann of 4teamwork GmbH; and Mark Murphy of Tyrell Corp.

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