LINUXWORLD - SugarCRM offers full open-source user support

SugarCRM Wednesday introduced Sugar Network, a bundle of software, online training and support for users of the open-source version of its CRM product.

SugarCRM Wednesday introduced Sugar Network, a bundle of software, online training and support for users of the open-source version of its CRM (customer relationship management) software. The company also officially unveiled the next release, version 4.2, of its commercial and open-source Sugar CRM products.

Sugar Network represents the first time the company is providing full support to its open-source users, according to John Roberts, chief executive officer of SugarCRM. Previously, the firm's open-source support was incident-based, he said in a recent phone interview. The company made the announcement at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston this week.

Sugar Network includes plug-ins for Microsoft's Outlook and Word, the messaging and word processing applications in the desktop Office suite. SugarCRM is selling Sugar Network as an annual subscription for US$99 per user. Subscribers will also be able to access training modules in Sugar University, SugarCRM's planned online training environment, which is due to appear in the summer.

The main focus of release 4.2 is an improved plug-in for Outlook, according to Roberts. The plug-in has a new user interface and improved integration with Microsoft's messaging software so that users can manage SugarCRM from within Outlook, he said.

In February, SugarCRM and Microsoft announced plans to improve interoperability between Microsoft's Windows Server and SugarCRM's software through a technical collaboration project. As part of that deal, SugarCRM is due to release version 4.5 of its CRM software under the Microsoft Community License. The license is part of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative, a program for sharing source code with customers, partners and governments.

Sugar 4.5 is in "middevelopment right now," and should appear in June with support for Microsoft's SQL Server database according to Roberts.

For on-premise deployment, the firm's commercial Sugar Professional 4.2 and Sugar Enterprise 4.2 software cost from US$239 and US$449 per user per year, respectively. The on-demand versions of the products start from US$39.95 per user per month for Sugar Professional and US$74.95 per user per month for Sugar Enterprise.

Sugar Open Source 4.2 can be downloaded free from http://www.sugarforge.org/.

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