During the Open Source Business Conference I sat down for a podcast interview with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL; Kim Polese, CEO of SpikeSource; and John Roberts, CEO of SugarCRM. The three open source moguls are flush with recent VC cash infusions and have partnered on Spike Stack for Sugar Professional.
SpikeSource packages up SugarCRM in a LAMP optimized stack and provides ongoing updates as part of its paid service. This kind of partnering will go a long way toward eliminating skepticism about open source, and the belief, expressed by SAP marketing executive Peter Graf, that unless an open source project or company is sufficiently mature, it won't have enough runway to get into enterprises as consolidation among vendors and IT shops accelerates.
Roberts agreed that the CRM industry is mature, but isn't convinced that his company will be shut out of larger enterprise. "I'm not so sure just being larger will be good enough now with open soruce and the way open source is brought in by IT organizations," Roberts said. He added that among SugarCRM's 450 installation are some of SAP's customers. (See Stephen Shankland's story on some of the open source upstarts headed by veterans of the proprietary wars.)
Kim Polese, John Roberts and Marten Mickos
I asked the trio about the notion of commercial open source, which most often includes some closed code along with the majority of open source code. For example, SugarCRM new releases are about 75 percent open source, with the closed source going into the Professional, "commercial" edition, Roberts said. That's in contrast to MySQL (the "M" in LAMP), which Mickos said is pure GPL, although some of the code for its fee-based support services is not open source.
Mickos noted that source code, which is nearly 100 percent written by his company's salaried engineers, is not the whole story when it comes to open source community contributions. "People contribute because it serves them--they learn something, they get famous, get recognition, they get a product that works...the fact that we monetize it is nothing bad, in the same sense that you could say that Google is monetizing your Web content," Mickos said. At some point the community might want something more than a T-shirt or a moment of fame.