SugarCRM Reaches Higher to the Cloud

Among the new tools and features SugarCRM introduced at its global developer conference this weekare a new Web services framework and mobile customizations. The open source customer relationship management company also reiterated its support for the cloud, with the rollout of several additional connectors.

SugarCRM is gearing up for a new level of activity on the part of firms that want to access its product line in the cloud, Martin Schneider, director of product marketing, told CRM Buyer.

The new tools introduced this week — along with earlier product releases such as the company’s Data Center edition — will encourage more developers and end users build elaborate mashups, he said.

Demand will come from another track as well, Schneider added, as companies like Rackspace and Amazon roll out platforms that can be used to host private clouds.

Cloud Connectors

The tools SugarCRM introduced this week will move things in that direction, Schneider said. They include embedded Cloud Connectors that link to third-party data — in this case, for Zoominfo and CrunchBase. Users can tap them as lead generation engines or for use in sales or marketing activities.

ZoomInfo is a business information search engine. CrunchBase is a free database connected to the TechCrunch blog. Adding them to SugarCRM, Schneider said, “increases users’ bandwidth of data and information available to them.”

SugarCRM introduced its first series of Cloud Connectors last year. Built using Web services that connect and integrate third-party data sources, they are available for Hoover’s JigSaw and for LinkedIn. They give users the option of previewing information retrieved from data providers with one click or merging that information into data residing within SugarCRM.

Customizing Sugar

Other new features give users more tools to customize SugarCRM to match their own corporate brands. Sugar Themes, for instance, is a user interface tool that offers prebuilt and custom themes for thatpurpose. A related new tool is Mobile Studio Editor, which provides customization for mobile applications built with SugarCRM — functionality the company introduced in September 2008.

The company also embellished its platform with the addition of Dynamic Team capabilities. An enhancement to the 5.2 platform introduced at the end of last year, this feature allows users to tailor teams to better reflect how they are associated with records in the system.

“We created modular administration in 5.2,” Schneider said. “This is an enhancement to that granular or delegated administration feature.”

The company also revamped its Web-services framework to better aid developers in building integration points to SugarCRM.

Build It or Buy It?

For companies that are looking for a low-cost solution and have the capabilities to build it in-house or through a third-party developer, SugarCRM is a viable option, Rebecca Wettemann, vice president ofresearch at Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer.

However, as the recession deepens, she is finding a growing constituency of companies that donot want the hassle.

Ironically, given the current corporate obsession with costs, “in the CRM space, in particular, I am seeing that TCO (total cost of ownership) is not a closing argument anymore for deals,” Wettemann said.

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