Shared Source isnt just for Microsoft software anymore. Open-source vendor SugarCRM will on Feb. 14 announce its plans to launch a distribution of its Sugar Suite 4.5 software under the Microsoft Community License.
That license is part of the Shared Source Initiative through which Microsoft shares some source code with customers, partners and governments worldwide.
The move, to be announced at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, will make SugarCRM the first outside party to offer its software under Microsofts quasi-open-source license.
It also lends some credibility to the claim by Microsoft officials that its Community License qualifies as a valid open-source license, even though Redmond has said it has no immediate plans to submit the license to the Open Source Initiative for approval.
In October, Microsoft announced that it was slashing the number of licenses for its Shared Source Initiative from the more than 10 that existed to just three template, or core, licenses, while radically shortening and simplifying the text of those licenses.
At that time, Microsoft officials said that the Community License was based on the popular open-source Mozilla Public License and would be used for collaborative development projects.
John Roberts, the CEO of SugarCRM, told eWEEK that he looks for licenses that allowed the reuse and redistribution of code.
The company currently supported multiple licenses, from the MPL (Mozilla Public License) to the GNU General Public License
“We were really impressed by the Microsoft Shared Source Community License and like it a lot. We think it is a license that represents the ideals of our community and is one that they want to use, especially those customers who already run on the Windows platform. We are also really excited about introducing a new Shared Source edition of the core Sugar open-source product,” he said.
But the license documentation for the 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. The SugarCRM Public License does not appear to be one recognized by the Open Source Initiative.
Bill Hilf, Microsofts director of platform technology strategy, said that the Microsoft Community License allows people to develop community code as well as use their own and third-party code in unique ways and lets it stay where they want it to.
“It is probably one of our most permissive licenses,” he said.
Microsoft and SugarCRM will also announce on Feb. 14 a technical collaboration project designed to enhance interoperability between the Windows Server platform and the SugarCRM line of products.
While the two companies will continue to compete in certain areas, given that Microsoft has its own Dynamics CRM product, they will work together on technical collaboration and architectural guidance, he said.
This will focus on improved SugarCRM support for Internet Information Services (IIS), optimization for Active Directory and Microsoft SQL Server, including SQL Express, SQL Server Workgroup and SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Hilf said.
While SugarCRM did support IIS today, it did so on its own, Roberts said, adding that it currently did not support SQL Server and had been asked by customers many times to do so. “We are now doing just that,” he said.
SugarCRM also plans to use the WiX (Windows Installer XML) toolset to build its forthcoming product installation as a Microsoft Software Installer package for Windows Server 2003, Roberts said.
This is the second such deal Microsoft has made in the past six months.
Last September, Microsoft said that it and JBoss, the proponent of the professional open-source model, would broaden interoperability between the JEMS (JBoss Enterprise Middleware System) and Microsoft Windows Server.
Hilf said he expected Microsoft and SugarCRM to do some interesting technical work over the next 12 months, but stressed that Microsoft remained totally committed to its Dynamics CRM product.
Eager for Interoperability
“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,” he said.
Some of those mutual customers are eager for greater interoperability between the two companies.
David Schmidgall, an IT manager for Superior Industries, a manufacturer of conveying systems and components, 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.
Valerie Kozikowski, a partner at professional services firm BDO Seidman LLP, agreed.
“We recently deployed Sugar Professional edition on the Windows platform. Increased interoperability between the two will allow us to take advantage of the reliability, ease of use and simplified administration of the Windows platform,” she said.
Asked if he was concerned about the size and scale of Microsoft and the fact that it also had a competing product in the market, SugarCRMs Roberts said the reality is that a lot of organizations run mixed environments and it is up to customers to decide which application suite is best for them as both product lines had different advantages.
“The overall CRM market is still maturing, and there is a lot of growth left. There is plenty of room for both of us in it,” he said.
Microsofts Hilf also stressed that this is not a “predatory” move in any way.
“We do have a competitive CRM product, but we also have a complementary suite of products that SugarCRM can take advantage of,” he said.
Bob Sutor, the vice president for standards and open source at IBM, was not surprised by the move, given the similar deal Microsoft struck last year with JBoss, saying there is a lot of open-source software that runs on Windows.
“Microsoft has a business model that they are trying to maintain here. I think they will continue to experiment, but I have no idea where they are going to eventually go on these things,” he said.
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