User pressure leads SugarCRM to GPLv3

The open-source CRM supplier has disputed the charge that it bowed to user pressure in its decision to adopt GPLv3

SugarCRM, the commercial open-source customer relationship management (CRM) software supplier, announced on Wednesday that the forthcoming release of the Sugar Community Edition 5.0 will be licensed under GPLv3.

But the company has denied that the decision to adopt the GPL (General Public License), rather than continue to use alternative free and open-source software (FOSS) licences, was because of pressure from users.

In June, Michael Tiemann, president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) called in his blog for companies to be more honest about their claims to be open source and free for users. "Enough is enough," he wrote. " Now it is time for us to stand up. I believe that when we do, the vendors who ignore our norms will suddenly recognise that they really do need to make a choice: to label their software correctly and honestly, or to license it with an OSI-approved licence that matches their open-source label."

Some users have accused SugarCRM of being unclear about whether it was truely open source. Clint Oram, the head of Europe for SugarCRM and a co-founder, rejected the charge.

"We have built the company around open source and we will always be open source," said Oram. There are "a lot of opinions on this" he said and a lot of people who "want to debate every detail". But "we are very confident in our position," he added. The company had not been entirely happy with the early versions of the GPL, he said, but when the company came to look again at the question of which open-source licence to throw itself behind for version three, "there was no doubt".

"The GPL is the world's most commonly used licence," Oram pointed out, and version three was, "so superior to what was out there".

If all goes well, the beta version of the Sugar Community Edition 5.0 should be out "in the next week or two", Oram said. The full version is expected in September.

Oram said he was delighted with business in Europe so far, and pointed to the company's first CRM community day to be held in Europe, which is scheduled for September. The UK continued to be the strongest market, he said, but Germany, France and the Netherlands were tied for second, while Italy and Scandinavia were also doing well.

One of the reasons for that was because SugarCRM does not have "any real competition in open source", Oram said. "Our main competition comes from the proprietary vendors."