IP Modularity in Software Ecosystems: How SugarCRM’s IP and Business Model Shape Its Product Architecture

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Abstract

We provide a case study of the concept of “IP modularity,” analyzing the case of SugarCRM. The modular architecture of this platform software is aligned with its intellectual property structure in such a way that the firm can derive, from the same code tree, an open source community version and a proprietary version. The software’s IP modular structure also facilitates the development of complements by distributed and anonymous complementors and simplifies downstream customizations, thus enhancing the platform’s attractiveness. We find that SugarCRM implements IP modularity on three different levels of the architectural hierarchy, in some cases down to the source code level. Our study thus extends the concept of IP modularity to comprise the notion of hierarchy levels.