SugarCRM Launches Sugar Express, Online Hosted CRM
Today must be cloud computing day in the open source world. In addition to this morning's announcement about Eucalyptus Systems focusing on open source cloud tools, SugarCRM has announced that it is putting an offering called Sugar Express on its Sugar Open Cloud. Sugar Open Cloud is an on-demand computing platform, and Sugar Express is an online hosted version of SugarCRM's open source customer relationship management software aimed at individuals and businesses "who need a low-cost solution,"--apparently. Comparatively, though, the cost doesn't seem to be so low.
According to SugarCRM's announcement, Sugar Express and the Sugar Open Cloud "represent the convergence of open source and on-demand computing." I'm betting that it's largely an answer to the success that Salesforce.com has had in getting small businesses to use CRM. So what's under the hood? According to the folks at SugarCRM:
"Sugar Express delivers core sales, marketing, and support features, complete with Sugar Plug-Ins for Microsoft Office and access to SugarCRM Customer Support. Platform functionality includes Module Builder to create custom modules and Cloud Connectors to integrate third-party data services from companies such as Hoover’s and Jigsaw. Sugar Express is offered as an annual subscription at $499 for up to five users or $799 for up to ten users per year."
“For all of its promise, the cloud computing movement is in danger of becoming yet another mousetrap to lock-in customers to proprietary vendors,” said John Roberts, CEO of SugarCRM. “Sugar Express and the Sugar Open Cloud marry the seamless maintenance and deployment of on-demand computing with the values of open source: openness, portability and flexibility.”
The Sugar Open Cloud is for managing online hosted applications and extensions. It runs in data centers that keep it secure, and there is uptime monitoring. As we covered recently, Evans Data researchers have reported that nearly half of developers working on open source projects plan to offer applications as web services in the cloud, so there will likely be many more offerings like Sugar Express.
According to SugarCRM's latest customer data metrics, SugarCRM is in use at over 60,000 businesses by over 550,000 users. Still, Salesforce's proprietary CRM offerings are the big fishes in the CRM pond. Sugar Express is likely to stand or fall based on how competitive its pricing is. Currently, Salesforce offers a five-user annual subscription to its small business-focused CRM version for $495 per year. That's actually four dollars lower than the five-user annual subscription cost for Sugar Express. Although there is a 30-day free trial, especially as it seeks to woo new customers with the launch of Sugar Express, SugarCRM should explore lower pricing.