May 21, 2008, 10:02 AM — Customers and partners of open-source CRM (customer relationship management)
vendor SugarCRM will
be able to deploy and manage a number of instances of the software through a
new management console, the company announced Wednesday.
The enterprise version of SugarCRM Data Center Edition will let customers tailor
and manage instances for different business units, while partners will be able
to more easily customize SugarCRM based on users' needs and resell it in on-demand
form, SugarCRM said.
The console can create an instance with "the click of a button,"
and its reporting capabilities allow customers to track usage levels and performance
across multiple instances, according to the company.
It is in beta now and will be generally available within a few months. Pricing
is tentative while the product remains in beta, according to a spokesman. Under
current plans, partners would pay on a tiered basis, depending on the number
of end users. Enterprises would pay $100 per year for each user being managed
with the tools.
SugarCRM's move is "quite interesting," said Ray Wang, an analyst
with Forrester Research.
Its ramifications go beyond a customer's CRM needs or helping partners resell
SugarCRM's product, by providing the basis for a broader open-source business
software platform, Wang suggested.
"Here you have an open-source product that is already compatible with
other open-source technologies, including PHP and ZEND, the open-source e-mail
tool Thunderbird, mySQL, and Linux," he said in an e-mail. "If they
are successful, this is quite powerful given the current adoption trends towards
hosting, multi-instance virtualization, and SaaS."
The announcement is the latest in a steady stream as SugarCRM attempts to gain
credibility with larger customers.
"They need more of an enterprise story, and the [data center] move will
play to that," said China Martens, an analyst with the 451 Group. "Going
hand in hand with that, they need some name customers -- they have BDO Seidman,
their largest user by far, with 9,000 users
-- more of that level of usage would be very handy as SugarCRM tries to engage
more with Salesforce.com."
However, as SugarCRM courts big enterprises, "one challenge will be to
ensure that in doing so, they keep all parties happy, particularly the bulk
of their customers, who have 10 to 20 seats," she said.
SugarCRM, which recently garnered an additional US$20 million in venture funding,
claims to have about 3,000 customers in all.