Concursive Corporation

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What Makes an Open Source Company

Posted by Michael Harvey on June 25, 2007, 8:25 PM EDT
Michael H. photo

Over the last few days there has been some controversy about what open source is, which started with a post from Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet, and a reply from Michael Tiemann, the president of the OSI.

As the open source community breaks into two groups for a face-off about this (see DIGG, and SlashDot), I would like to offer our point of view.

At Centric CRM, we are dedicated to delivering value to our end customers. Our products are developed to satisfy their business needs and to provide them with the innovation, freedom and control they need for the software their business depends on.

We truly believe in our product, team and product strategy. We have never misled or mis-communicated the license that our software is based on. Our current CRM license is not OSI-approved, nor have we ever claimed it is. But it is open source. Our software is developed and supported by an online community open to all; ships with full source code and grants customers the freedom to modify their software or any part of it for internal use; and is available for unlimited use, free of charge, by anyone who visits our website.

As Dana said in his opening post on this debate, CRM is beyond mission-critical: Customer relationship management is what companies do. It is essential that companies can protect their innovation so it can continue to be a source of competitive advantage. That is why our current license gives companies control over their own investments and allows them to protect their innovations.

We are active participants in the open source community, we build and deliver software that encapsulates open source and ensure that our business model is embraced by the end user community. As our success shows, with our software used by Fortune 500 companies, our approach to open source and business is successful. Centric CRM is a founding member of the Open Solutions Alliance and a member of the Red Hat Exchange (RHX). We remain committed to open source software.

That said, I am delighted to confirm that we've been exploring our licensing for some time. (See Matt Asay's recent C|Net post for some speculation on this topic.)

Later this week our next major product, Centric Team Elements, will be released under the Open Software License (OSL 3.0), an OSI-approved license.

In addition, we are putting out a Centric CRM SDK under the LGPL that will allow third parties to freely redistribute and build derivative works based on our public API.

We are also making our Microsoft Outlook plug-in available under the GPL so that third-parties can extend our plug-in capabilities to their products.

In the spirit of open source, I would welcome the chance to meet with interested parties, fellow vendors such as Sugar CRM and Michael Tiemann, President of the OSI, to discuss this issue. I also hope that this discussion truly becomes that: a discussion, rather than a religious war, a discussion with nuanced arguments (see, for example, Alex Fletcher's latest post) that can engage and accomodate multiple parties with multiple viewpoints.

In the meantime, anyone who would like to join the conversation within the Centric CRM community is welcome to do so in our discussion forums.

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