Eben Moglen is the éminence grise behind the Free Software Foundation and the GNU GPL. He is also one of the wittiest and most articulate speakers it has ever been my privilege to interview – if you get the chance to hear him in the flesh, seize it with all available limbs. Above all, he is uncompromising in his support for free software. So when he starts giving out testimonials like this, you know something important is happening:
A momentous event occurred in the history of software this week—though some may have been too consumed with the stock market malaise or hand-wringing over Apple's iPhone sales to notice. For anyone who missed the news, a company called SugarCRM, a provider of software that helps companies manage customer relationships, threw its weight behind the latest version of the GNU General Public License, which governs the use of freely distributed software.
Why the fuss about SugarCRM? Well, it claims to be
the world's leading provider of commercial open source customer relationship management (CRM) software for companies of all sizes.
But until it adopted the GNU GPL for its Community Edition – it also sells the proprietary Professional and Enterprise Editions – its place in the free software community was a matter of debate. By boldly opting for not just the GNU GPL, but the very latest version 3 – to Moglen's evident delight – it established its open source credentials at a stroke (even if it prefers to use a mixed open source/proprietary strategy).
And now it has come out with Sugar 5.0, what it calls “a landmark release” - but then it would, wouldn't it? Nonetheless, it's good to see a company backing open source enhancing its products to make them even more attractive to the enterprise sector.