Alfresco Grows Distribution via LGPL

Feb 02, 2010

John Newton, founder and CTO of the Alfresco Software content management system (CMS) company, has announced a licensing change from GPL to LGPL for the software. The change should go into effect the next Alfresco community version.

Newton writes in his blog that his company could easily develop his software and brand with help of the General Public License. But now the time comes to open up the license to proprietary integration, hence to turn a back on GPL. The advantage of the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) is the ability to link in the Alfresco repository without affecting proprietary software linking it. The total switch to LGPL also makes it easier to link in LGPL components Alfresco already has, such as the Hibernate database service and jBPM for workflow.

The Berkeley graduate sees the licensing change as "more of an opportunity to be a platform beyond individual applications, particularly with the emergence of CMIS," which was introduced in the product mid-2009. With the OASIS standardized Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS), CMSs can share their contents. "We do this," says Newton, "in the spirit of making Alfresco available as a CMIS platform and a general ECM platform to build content applications without inhibiting your business opportunities. What we hope is that your applications will build demand for Alfresco services from Alfresco Software, particularly in larger enterprise environments."

Thus linking in closed software is a revenue source for Alfresco. It is a bit of a stretch to the attitude that customers with open source can save themselves a lot of money, as Newton had suggested for the Alfresco Community Edition 3.2.

The Group 451 business analysis venture is strengthened by Alfresco's decision in its observation that the "dominant GPL open source license may be fading from favor among commercial open source software players." Not to say that open source software is becoming less favored. On the contrary, as Jay Lyman of Group 451 notes, "much of the movement we�re seeing away from the GPL has to do with the desire and opportunity to place open source software alongside, within, on top of or otherwise with proprietary software."

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