Aras Move Puts New Spin on Open Source

The company is moving away from a proprietary user-based licensing model to an open, distribution model where there is no charge for the use of its software.

Aras, which makes product life-cycle management software, has a new spin on open source: making the code to its Aras Innovator software, which only runs on proprietary Microsoft technologies, openly available under the Microsoft Community License and hosted on Microsofts Codeplex Web site.

Aras will announce on Jan. 15 its move away from a proprietary user-based licensing model to an open, distribution model where there is no charge for, or limitation on, the use of its software, Peter Schroer, Aras president and founder, told eWEEK.

The firm, headquartered in Lawrence, Mass., will also announce the availability of version 8 of its Aras Innovator suite of solutions, as well as the consulting services, training and education programs, and support packages that go with it.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsofts Shared Source licenses.

Support packages range from $8,300 a month per production system for companies with revenue greater than $100 million to $4,100 a month for firms with annual revenue below $100 million.

While the Aras Innovator needs a minimum of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with .Net 2.0 and SQL Server 2005 to run, it also supports Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7.

Aras also has no intention of using an OSI-approved license or releasing a version of its Aras Innovator version 8 software for the Linux operating system.

The Microsoft Community License is one of the Redmond, Wash. software makers Shared Source licenses, none of which has been submitted to the OSI (Open Source Initiative) for approval under the Open Source Definition. Codeplex is Microsofts open-source project hosting Web site.

Peter Schroer, president and founder of Aras Corp., told eWEEK that he expects "some controversy, at least heartburn" over these decisions. "For us, it is a matter of defining and deciding what open source really is, what it means and who its for," he said.

"The open-source community is really a fairly closed group of people. Essentially its the programmers who create the code. Also, most of the way that is packaged and offered is palatable to someone who is also a programmer," he said.

/zimages/7/28571.gifTo read more about how open-source licenses were recently categorized rather than ranked, click here.

Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash., agrees that the Aras move is "unlikely to please those open-source advocates who favor the GNU General Public License and oppose Microsoft, of which there are many."

Helm added: "But if the business model, which is not that different from a vendor like Red Hat who also gives away the source code and charges for support, proves sustainable, Aras customers will benefit."

While Schroer says he is a big believer in open source, the "whole community has gotten a little too biased toward a very narrow thinking: that its not open source if it doesnt run on Linux. What open source is about for us and our customers is control and flexibility."

Next Page: Open source is not Linux.