Is SuiteCRM really open source?

I understood at the outset that SuiteCRM would be a true open source fork of SugarCRM? Why then…

  1. Is SuiteCRM is a trademark of SalesAgility?
  2. Is there no SuiteCRM Foundation?

Yes, it is fully open-source.

  1. this is normal - you can fork and use the code, but you can’t use the same name. This is what happened when we forked from SugarCRM, we had to use a new name.

  2. A Foundation is not the only way to do it. This is about who owns the current product and code, it doesn’t affect your rights to get access to all the source and to fork. It is possible that in the future there might be a Foundation, but it is not promised - it simply might not be necessary.

An important feature of the SuiteCRM “deal” with the Community is that Greg Soper, SalesAgility founder and chairman, has repeatedly written that SuiteCRM is and always will be open-source. There won’t be a second instance of what SugarCRM did by going closed source.

Your points are important.

In your first sentence, you ask if SuiteCRM is a “true” open source fork. It may be an existential question, but what is “true” open source?

From our perspective, we’re on an open source journey. We know the destination and we know the cargo. We don’t know all the stopping points on that journey. So we have promised to deliver on the things we know.

The destination is to be the world’s most used CRM application.
The cargo is SuiteCRM, a 100% open source application.

There are many potential routes on our journey. That may include a foundation. It may not include a foundation. We will do what we see as best to deliver SuiteCRM to its destination.

When I say “we”, I mean SalesAgility, the company that founded and who fund the development of SuiteCRM. We have an important voice. I also mean the community of software engineers, translators and community contributors who help drive the project forward. They also have an important voice.

We currently rule nothing out, we rule nothing in. We keep to the promise we made four years ago - that every line of code published by the project would be open source.

I will leave the existential “true” open source debate to others. I am satisfied that we are delivering what we promised and continue to do so with open minds and open hearts.

What I’ve learned over 12 years in open source is that you can’t please all the people all the time. There’s no point in trying. We focus on the things we can control.

Great software we can deliver. Empty promises we won’t.

I’m a bit naive when it comes to Opensource, but the above two things were the first to catch my eye.

I’m keen to jump on the SuiteCRM train. But I would like to see this product be bigger than SalesAgility. That’s why I asked the above two questions. I’m a little skeptical that it’s a vehicle to push SalesAgility as a consultancy firm. You own the name, and you decide the direction of development.

I would rather see an independent non-profit entity steer the ship, so that regardless of what happens to SalesAgility, it will survive.

As an independent entitity, you can also attract your own funds / donations, but perhaps this is a journey you’ve already gone through and it didn’t happen.

The other thing I see lacking, is some serious energy towards marketing this product. There’s a lot of goodwill and effort from SalesAgility, but outside of the UK, very few people know about it. In my circles in Australia, no-one’s ever heard of it. Again, if SuiteCRM was an independent entity, you could prioritise this above marketing SalesAgility as the SuiteCRM consultancy.

Now that you’re retired, now is perhaps the time to focus on SuiteCRM?

SuiteCRM bigger than SalesAgility and a vehicle to push SalesAgility as a consulting firm?

Both are true and I’m intensely relaxed about both. The global revenue for consulting, hosting, support and development that SuiteCRM generates runs to hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of that needs to come back to the project and SalesAgility is the vehicle for doing that.

Marketing: If you think people don’t know about SuiteCRM, consider this:

In the last four years we have steadily increased the number of Google searches for SuiteCRM. In the next six months we will overtake SugarCRM as a search term.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you look to the infrastructure stack, it took 20 years for open source to dominate. We think we’re in year four in the application stack but that the end destination will be the same.

We think we’re doing OK and we know we can always do better.