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SugarCRM Previews Upcoming Cloud, CRM Features

CEO John Roberts pledges to help customers reposition their companies to take advantage of cloud computing trends and more open source code.

SugarCRM, the open source customer relationship management software vendor, is giving its user base a sneak preview into its next generation of products.

At its third annual SugarCon gathering Monday, the company previewed new CRM features, including an improved Web services framework, additional Cloud Connectors, and mobile customization features.

Under its Sugar Cloud Connectors modification, ZoomInfo and CrunchBase are now embedded within SugarCRM. The company's Cloud Connector software has added the REST framework to its code, allowing third-party developers to tap into improved Web services. The software also introduces dynamic team capabilities that enable users to add multiple individuals or teams.

SugarCRM had a strong year in 2008 and said that, under current economic conditions, it will help its customers reposition their companies to take advantage of cloud computing trends and more open source code.

"The key is not how much can you cut. The key is how much new value you can create coupled with reduced costs," said John Roberts, CEO and co-founder of SugarCRM, in an opening address to SugarCon in San Francisco.

Companies that have been locked into proprietary software will find they have a consistent overhead of fixed costs, regardless of what the company is going through. With their heavy commitment to a proprietary software infrastructure, they would find it hard to take advantage of both the cloud and upgrades to open source code. Competitors who do so may be able to reposition themselves in the current downturn to emerge healthier on the other side, Roberts continued.

"In this economic crisis, creating competitive advantage is incredibly important," he told a large auditorium full of attendees at the Palace Hotel. "The cloud and open source take cost out of business and allow you to create new value."

Roberts also noted that SugarCRM was once "two guys with a $25 shared account" with a Web hosting service. The company launched its open source project on SourceForge in April 2004 and garnered 396 downloads its first month. By the end of the following September, downloads had reached 25,000 and, after four years, number 5.1 million, Roberts recounted.

SugarCRM is able to ping the Web for servers with an active version of its system and counts 55,000 today. Roberts said 2008 saw continued widespread adoption of SugarCRM in Europe and Asia as well as the United States. It opened offices in Shanghai, China; Dublin, Ireland; and Munich, Germany, he said.

The company is financed with $46 million in venture capital from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Walden International, and New Enterprise Associates.

SugarCRM has some advantages in integrating its open source software into enterprise cloud and CRM strategies. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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