Open-Xchange and SugarCRM Join Forces to Integrate and Share Data
Technology companies negotiate a particularly messy obstacle course from the moment of conception -- jumping hurdles associated with venture capital, fending off and holding their own with fierce (and worthy) competitors, constantly changing and innovating products and services to meet the demands of the customer base. Open source companies have an additional complicating factor -- the business model is mysterious to many potential customers, and competitors (fierce, worthy, or otherwise) are often 800 pound gorillas with names and logos recognizable to CTO, CIO and Luddite alike.
Perhaps the silver lining for open source companies forging onward for larger market share is that they realized early on that adaptability is the norm, that weak points can become strengths if they're recognized and effectively addressed as soon as possible -- and that if a single open source company is unable to wrestle a significant percentage of the marketshare from an 800 pound gorilla, two or three 400 pound free software-touting orangutans can make a real impression.
Maybe my take on Open-Xchange's partnership with SugarCRM is more "Animal Planet" inspired than that of The VAR Guy, but it's very much in agreement. Open-Xchange has made its open source Exchange Server alternative -- and SugarCRM's open source customer relationship software -- infinitely more useful and appealing by facilitating data sharing between social networks, SugarCRM applications and Open-Xchange address books.
The VAR Guy's piece suggests that Open-Xchange and SugarCRM are partnering to directly compete with Microsoft's Exchange Server and Dynamics CRM products -- even as SugarCRM draws some favorable attention from the Microsoft camp. I agree wholeheartedly that we won't see a single open source software product displace Exchange Server's cozy position in the enterprise collaboration market any time soon. Could a combination of open source companies working together cohesively make proprietary server solutions feel the heat in the next year or two? That's a real possibility.
The fact that Open-Xchange and SugarCRM can be deployed on-site or as a software as a service (SaaS) arrangement is undoubtedly a major advantage. The real gem in this partnership -- what makes it so appealing to its users -- is the open data format used to import and export information between the products. Based on work done at Microformats.org, the Open-Xchange Micro Format (OXMF) enables users to import data from social networks and related applications and services, work with it in the desired manner, and export it to other applications supporting the format, regardless of whether the supporting application is hosted on the cloud or in-house.
Current SugarCRM users wishing to integrate OXMF support in their deployments should check out the SugarOXMF page on SugarForge.
It's clear that software companies are going to have to be open to change, and be able to change quickly, to survive -- now more than ever. And perhaps a focusing less on winning in favor of playing well with others is what will help open source companies make the grade.