SugarCRM Inc. has shipped Version 3.5 of its open-source customer relationship management package and is offering a $449 enterprise edition that supports the Oracle 9i and MySQL relational databases.
The Sugar Enterprise Edition also provides an offline client, advanced reporting tools and a module loader designed to provide plug-and-play installation for third-party application extensions, said John Roberts, SugarCRMs CEO.
The module loader is also being simultaneously released in the 3.5 version of SugarCRMs Open Source and Professional editions, according to Roberts.
Sugar Suite 3.5, the first SugarCRM upgrade since April, provides HTML e-mail support, a cross-module data reporting tool, an installation utility for third-party add-on modules and improved integration with Microsoft Outlook, he said. The company will demonstrate the new editions next week at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.
The enterprise edition reporting tools allow users to write multidimensional SQL queries that assemble more complex data associations than those produced by the standard reporting module, company officials said. These reports can compile data drawn from multiple applications within the CRM suite, Roberts said.
The offline client allows users to enter data or draft reports while disconnected to the Web. The client automatically synchronizes and updates application data the next time users connect to the Internet.
The company will continue to update the Sugar Suite every four to four-and-a-half months as its continues its drive to become an open-source competitor of more established proprietary CRM packages such as those from Siebel Systems Inc., Salesforce.com, Oracle Corp. and others, Roberts said.
“We have matured as a product and as a company,” Roberts said. “If you look at the Sugar Suite today we are very strong, of course, in sales force automation, customer service and self-service, as well as campaign management and marketing,” he said.
More than 250 companies have bought the Sugar Professional Edition the company shipped in September. “Our implementation sizes are getting much larger as well. They are getting into the 300- to 400-seat ranges,” Roberts said. There have also been more than 300,000 downloads of the Sugar Open Source Edition, he noted.
This level is starting to rival proprietary enterprise CRM companies for the number of customers and installed seats, Roberts contended. SugarCRMs success thus far indicates that open-source enterprise application software can prosper in the market, he said.
The way that open-source applications are developed and distributed provides a faster return on investment for customers, Roberts said, because they arent burdened with the cost overhead of proprietary software.
However, Cupertino, Calif.-based SugarCRM itself remains a small company, with about 30 employees.
SugarCRM offers both on-premises installations and a hosted version called Sugar On-Demand. The hosted version is available for $39.95 per user per month. The company also markets a CRM appliance called Sugar Cube installed with Sugar Professional.
About 65 percent of customers purchase the on-premises application, while the remainder use the hosted version, Roberts said. He said he expected that a majority of customers will likely continue to use the on-premises version for the foreseeable future.
“I think that on-premises is especially good for open source because you get a lot of corporations that want access to the code. They want to take it in directions that they feel benefits them the most,” Roberts said.