SugarCRM, a company that develops both an open-source and proprietary blend of Customer Relationship Management software, announced earlier this week the beta release of the next iteration of its software.
The Sugar 5.0 beta, released August 27, introduces new capabilities that appeal to developers and less technical users, including the ability to build custom modules, a new AJAX e-mail client and a so-called Multi-Instance On Demand architecture that really is a revamped on-demand capability for the company.
The Sugar 5.0 upgrades span four areas: Platform, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), architecture and community development.
Enhancements to the platform include the new module builder that essentially takes on the concepts of composite application development: combining new or existing bits of functionality or objects to create a process-based application. SugarCRM gives the example of combining a custom object for employment candidates with the existing Contacts view to create a recruiting module.
The custom modules, built using SugarCRMs platform, work with the companys Reporting, Workflow and Studio tools. The platform also includes a meta-data driven user interfaces that stores customizations in a metadata repository.
Click here to read more about Microsoft CRM Live undercutting the prices of other on-demand services.
CRM functionality includes the new e-mail client that has some new drag and drop features and is integrated with the companys Sales Force Automation software. Existing dashboards have been upgraded to provide support for funnel and pie charts and line and bar graphs—features that seem fairly standard fare with dashboards. Another dashboard feature lets user access any number of dashboards from their homepage.
The upgraded on demand capabilities help users to jump between an on-demand and on-premise model, officials said. At the same time the 5.0 release makes it easier for users and partners to build, certify, share and sell applications on SugarCRMs communities, SugarForge and Sugar Exchange through the adoption of GNU 3 for its Community Edition. A new Module Builder framework allows users to create, publish and share modules across Sugar deployments, officials said.
The beta release of Sugar 5.0 is available this week. The Sugar Community Edition, Professional and Enterprise editions will be available toward the end of September. Following the lead of on demand CRM [and Enterprise Resource Planning] software vendor NetSuite, which filed for an IPO earlier this summer, SugarCRM expects its market share to grow enough over the next two years to enable the company to file for an IPO, according to media reports.
Roberts said in interviews that the company is "absolutely on track" for an IPO; he anticipates SugarCRM can grow to $100 million in yearly revenue in the next couple of years.
Jeff Kaplan, an analyst with ThinkStrategies, confirmed that SugarCRM is indeed doing well. "They are making progress," he said. "They are riding two waves: the open source movement and the Software as a Service movement. They often get confused as a SAAS company but they have both on-demand and on-premise—and their on-premise software is getting greater traction than on demand."
Kaplan said that SugarCRM is the name brand when it comes to open-source CRM software, so that "anyone who looks at Salesforce has an obligation to look at SugarCRM too."
In a press release for the 5.0 beta Chambers said this is the upgrade that "allows customers to break away from the lock-in of proprietary CRM vendors"—presumably Salesforce.com, the current gold standard for on demand CRM software.
Even with the comparison to Salesforce—a company that is on track to reach $1 billion in sales, perhaps in the next year—SugarCRM still has an uphill road in front of it, at least in terms of educating the user class. "Open source represents a new wave that many people are still wary about; it still seems peculiar," said Kaplan. "Many people are still not sure how open source works."
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