SugarCRM offers biggest upgrade yet

By , IDG News Service |  Software

SugarCRM has released the 5.0 version of its open-source customer relationship
management software following a long period of development and testing.

Sugar 5.0 features improvements in three main areas, according to the company:
a new on-demand architecture designed to improve security; tools that let nontechnical
users build custom modules; and an AJAX e-mail client that is compatible with
any server that supports the POP3 protocol. The release also delivers upgraded
dashboarding capabilities.

The software went through three beta cycles and was tested more than 30,000
times by members of SugarCRM's open-source community, said Chris Harrick, senior
director of product marketing for the Cupertino, California, company.

Harrick said the open-source development model allows software to be vetted
far more thoroughly than it can through an in-house quality testing team.

In-house teams "serve their purpose. They do a good job and they're hard-working
people. But [open-source provides] the wisdom of the crowd," he argued.

Harrick downplayed the fact that it took three betas to achieve a release-worthy
product. "I think it's really a result of our development process. We iterate
quickly and get it out there," he said.

The company has created a Flash
demo
that walks through the new features in detail.

China Martens, an analyst with the 451 Group, said SugarCRM is looking to land
larger enterprise customers with the 5.0 release.

"This is the most substantial kind of project they've done. ... it was
really crucial for them to try and get this right," Martens said.

"We think it's good, but the bottom line is we want to see bigger users
for Sugar until we get really excited," she added.

In a space crowded by seemingly similar CRM offerings, SugarCRM has tried to
differentiate itself partly through fostering a user-friendly image, according
to Martens. The company's attitude, according to Martens, is, "Forget about
the technical guys, we're Sugar and you can configure us. We're friendly."

SugarCRM Professional in on-demand form costs US$40 per user per month.

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