SugarCRM to unveil commercial portal in July

SugarCRM is to officially launch SugarExchange, a consumer-focused site where developers can sell their extensions to the vendor's CRM applications.

Open-source CRM (customer relationship management) software vendor SugarCRM said Monday that it plans to officially launch its commercial portal, SugarExchange, in early July.

SugarExchange has just entered public beta testing and is currently featuring downloadable software from open-source business intelligence (BI) company JasperSoft, said Clint Oram, co-founder of SugarCRM.

The two open-source players have worked closely together on integrating their technologies to develop the JasperReports for the SugarCRM reporting engine. The downloadable software lets SugarCRM users generate a variety of reports based on data contained in the Sugar Suite CRM applications.

"This is the beginning of a wave of meaningful partners between commercial open-source companies," Barry Klawans, chief technology officer of JasperSoft, said.

JasperReports for SugarCRM has already proved a popular download on SugarCRM's SugarForge open-source project portal.

Oram drew a distinction between SugarForge, a developer-centric site, and the new SugarExchange, which will function as a consumer-focused Web site for downloading extensions to CRM applications.

Some of SugarCRM's less technically savvy customers found SugarForge difficult to navigate and had trouble figuring out which of the 200 open-source projects on the site were ready for use in their organization, Oram said. SugarExchange will only feature finished pieces of software, not works in progress.

The downloads on SugarExchange will be available for free or for a fee to be determined by the developer of the software. Each download will include a built-in shopping cart and be integrated into the PayPal online payment system so that developers looking to charge for their work can do so. "We've always had a focus on developers being able to make money," Oram said.

JasperSoft has been involved in the development of SugarExchange from the get-go and has provided feedback on how the site has been structured and how it's functioning. The BI vendor and SugarCRM are keen to further their relationship, potentially integrating JasperReports into Sugar Professional, the version of the CRM software that sits between SugarCRM's full enterprise offering and its open-source applications.

SugarCRM now expects to release the next major version of its commercial and open-source CRM software, version 4.5, in August, Oram said. Previously expected in June, the new versions will support Microsoft's SQL Server relational database.

As laid out in a technology collaboration pact that SugarCRM and Microsoft announced in February, Sugar 4.5 will not only be available under the SugarCRM Public License, a derivation of the Mozilla Public License, but also 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.

February's announcement made waves in the open-source community, "bringing the anti-Microsoft followers out of the woodwork," Oram said, with SugarCRM accused of "being consumed by the dark side." However, the company also saw the move welcomed by Microsoft users who were keen that SugarCRM software be offered under a Microsoft license, he added.

Oram does see some mixed messages from Microsoft on open-source software, including some "unenlightened comments within Microsoft's ranks," as the software giant continues to figure out its stance on the technology.

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