Aras Delivers Open Source PLM Software
January 23, 2007 Alex Woodie
When you think about “open source software,” chances are good the word “Linux” is lurking close by. That’s a mindset that Microsoft would love to change, and it got some help in that regard this week when product lifecycle management (PLM) software developer Aras announced that its flagship Windows-based Innovator product suite is now available, free of charge, under an open source licensing model.
Aras is a Lawrence, Massachusetts, developer of tools designed to help programmers and managers maintain their existing systems and build new functionality without stepping on each other’s toes, going over budget, missing deadlines, or bungling project management a hundred other ways. The company makes software for managing the development of software, as well as automating the change process for the design of physical products, such as automotive parts and semiconductor components.
Innovator contains three pieces, including Program Management, which helps track the progress of software development projects; Product Engineering, which provides change management functionality and helps designers settle on development goals; and Quality Planning, which is designed to help companies manage risks, achieve compliance, and increase profit margins. The software can be used on a stand-alone basis, or integrated with existing ERP products, including Windows, Unix, or i5/OS-based ERP solutions from Infor, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.
Innovator runs on Windows Server 2003, and requires .NET 2.0 and SQL Server 2005. The software is based on Microsoft .NET, and includes hooks into many Microsoft products, including Office, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and SharePoint Portal Server, Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, BizTalk Server 2006, and Active Directory.
Anybody can now download the new Innovator version 8 from the Aras Web site or from Codeplex, Microsoft’s open source project hosting Web site. Aras is offering Innovator 8 under the Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL), a shared-use license created by Microsoft.
However, Aras does not provide support for the free downloads. To obtain support, users must purchase a subscription package. These cost $8,300 per month for the enterprise-class package, or $4,100 per month for the small business edition. Users can also purchase training and implementation services from Aras.
None of Microsoft’s shared-use licenses, including the Ms-CL, the Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL), nor the Microsoft Reference License (Ms-RL), have been submitted to the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the industry body that has given its nod of approval to open source licensing schemes, such as the GNU Public License (GPL) and many others. The lack of support from OSI for the Microsoft shared-use licenses–not to mention the fact that open source Innovator is only available for Windows–could cause a backlash among backers of open source.
But Aras isn’t looking back, and sounds confident about its new direction. “By delivering the Aras Innovator solutions as enterprise open source on the Microsoft platform, we provide software licensing simplicity and align with the technologies that companies already have and understand,” says Peter Schroer, president of Aras.
Aras also got the nod of approval from Microsoft. “We are supportive of Aras’ move to offer enterprise open source solutions on the Microsoft stack, and we continue to see tremendous growth in the Microsoft partner ecosystem as a variety of industry partners are finding innovative ways to take advantage of the value of the Microsoft platform under a wide range of licensing models,” says Bill Hilf, general manager of Platform Technology Strategy at Microsoft.
Aras is aligned closely with Microsoft and Windows, but it hasn’t always been the case. In 2004, the company joined IBM‘s ISV Advantage initiative, and committed to delivering Innovator on IBM’s Java-based WebSphere Application Server and the Linux operating system.