Feeds

SugarCRM goes folksy with Mickos philosophy

Simple by necessity

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

MySQL chief executive Marten Mickos is surely regarded as a rainmaker among the entrepreneurial wing of the open source movement.

Not only did his company pick wisely when it came to endorsing an open source technology, it also convinced a major, publicly traded entity to part with $1bn for no discernable return - despite its own challenges in making money.

The secret of Mickos' success is surely his penchant for keeping it simple - to do one thing and do it really well. In this case, it was the database.

The philosophy, in Mickos' words, is to "stick to the knitting".

That's a motto chief executive John Roberts appears to now be living by for his open source company, SugarCRM, as he thinks things have worked out for the best as far as MySQL and Sun is concerned.

SugarCRM is looking for success of its own, planning an IPO within the next two years. With the customer relationship management (CRM) vendor struggling to get out from under the shadow cast by Salesforce.com, and the markets tipping against tech IPOs, SugarCRM is also sticking to the knitting to succeed. In this case, the knitting is CRM.

That means no vague, platform-on-demand strategy and no concocting a meta-data-based programming language such as Apex.

"Salesforce are talking about a platform play, we are still committed to CRM - it's a huge category," Roberts told Reg Dev during a recent interview. "To abandon the CRM market, which seems to be what they are doing, is a reaction to not having anything new to offer. For us, we will always be committed."

As to Salesforce.com's Apex, Roberts said SugarCRM is sticking with PHP. "They call themselves a platform but they still have to create programming languages, but that doesn't help or benefit the customer," Roberts said.

Of course, Roberts' tune might change once he becomes answerable to shareholders demanding growth, pushing the company into areas he doesn't want to go.

Roberts' pragmatic stance is partly due to circumstances. The latest edition of SugarCRM, version 5.0, shipped later than planned thanks to an additional round of code reviews. SugarCRM, which is growing, also remains smaller than Salesforce.com and is lacking a comparable ISV ecosystem.

SugarCRM has 500 modules, 3,000 customers, and 160 employees although it claims 4.5 million downloads and support from 12,000 developers - the standard two metrics used to measure one's "success" in open source. That compares to Salesforce.com's 750 applications on its AppExchange marketplace, 2,070 employees, and nearly a million subscribers at 38,000 organizations.

That IPO, meanwhile, will likely have been pushed out given the current state of the markets and the fact SugarCRM's investors will want a return on their investment.

There is uncertainty, meanwhile, over the future state of the software-as-a-service CRM market if, indeed, Salesforce.com is offering itself up to Oracle for purchase.

Roberts, though, is upbeat. He claimed the release of SugarCRM 5.0 marks the "end of the beginning" for his company, by offering a scalable CRM product and service with shareable modules, and that SugarCRM is now out of its "start-up phase". That phase, according to Roberts, included adopting "different approaches" and covered last year's spat over the attribution license, resolved when SugarCRM adopted GPLv3.

"The commercial open source business model people are still figuring it out. We stopped figuring it out a few years ago. The one major change would have been attribution a few years ago... we went with [GPL] v3... there is peace and harmony in the open source world," Roberts said. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.