In deciding to buy MySQL last month, Sun was attracted to the open-source database company's very rapid growth rate and its revenue model, Sun President/CEO Jonathan Schwartz said in a keynote presentation Wednesday at SugarCRM's SugarCon 2008 conference in California.
MySQL was driving real value, innovation, and choice, Schwartz said. Sun agreed to buy the company in a US$1 billion deal.
"What was attractive was how profound their distribution was," Schwartz said. MySQL offers access to about 11 million deployments around the world, and Sun began to see MySQL delivering real value, innovation, and choice, he said. MySQL sells services and support for its database.
Asked if Sun planned to scale the MySQL database to compete with Oracle, Schwartz said Sun will not compete with Oracle but "will scale MySQL to extraordinary heights."
The future lies in open source, innovation, and freedom of choice, according to Schwartz. Open source, he said, represents choice for CIOs. Developers, meanwhile, are making decisions about what runs in data centers, something that used to be the sole domain of the CIO, said Schwartz.
Schwartz also stressed the importance of communities. "With every mainstream asset at Sun, we're investing to create a community," of developers and users regardless of whether they pay any money, he said.
Schwartz's being a keynote presenter at the conference presents a bit of irony in that the open-source Sugar CRM package is written in PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) rather than the Java language created and promoted by Sun. But Schwartz noted the Java Virtual Machine is being expanded to accommodate other languages. The JVM enables Java applications to run on platforms supporting the JVM.
"I think what you'll see from Sun is that we're just going to take the J off the JVM and just make it a VM," Schwartz said. He cited Sun's Da Vinci Machine project, which is an effort to expand language coverage of the JVM.
In other developments at the conference, SugarCRM laid out a roadmap of Sugar product releases planned for 2008.
Due in April or May, the 5.1 edition of Sugar focuses on SMBs. It will feature improvements in reporting, including about 20 pre-canned reports, as well as a new systems management console via the company's DCE (Data Center Edition) 1.0.
Wireless and tracker enhancements also are planned. The tracker will be able to tell who and how many users are online. Also, it will reveal the CRM usage level for a particular team and what modules are being used the most.
The 5.2 edition, expected in July, is to feature real-time and global grid capabilities.
A Java layer in version 6.0 will link Sugar to other applications, such as the Lucene search engine. DCE 2.0 will debut with advanced resource and systems management.
In a morning keynote presentation, SugarCRM co-founder and CEO John Roberts touted a new era in "commercial open source."
"We are at the end of the beginning in commercial open source these last four years, and open source is clearly in the mainstream now," Roberts said.
SugarCRM founders in 2003 started questioning the proprietary lock-in of software, he said. They left their jobs in 2004 and began SugarCRM, Roberts recalled.
"We founded [the] Sugar open-source project before we even incorporated the company," Roberts said. The founders, who also include Clint Oram and Jacob Taylor, decided to post code in an effort to write software in a public venue, said Roberts.
Roberts cited five forces shaping technology: ideas, willpower and the Internet; belief in the intelligence of crowds, consumerization of IT, cloud computing, and the global language of sharing. "It's exciting, and for me, it's clear that this journey we started on four years ago is real and there really isn't any stopping it," said Roberts. "The best thing I like about it is its focus on innovation," he added.
A user of SugarCRM, Eddie White, director of Mania Technologie UK, which makes manufacturing equipment, uses the product as a database for marketing, customer care, and field service support.
"The investment was very cost-effective in terms of overall license costs," White said.
"We've been able to create a global database of customers and contacts," he said.
Mania is looking to integrate its Sugar installation with its other systems, such as stock control and sales order management systems, White said.
The biggest hurdle to deploying Sugar has been getting users to embrace it who had been used to doing things another way, according to White. "It's been easy to use; it's just a question of getting people to change their work practice," he said.
While Mania did examine the source code of SugarCRM when doing administrative-level customization, it did not make any changes to the code. The company may do this when it expands use of the product for customer care.
SugarCRM announced on Wednesday stack installers that provide a simplified, wizard-based installation for Sugar Community Edition for Solaris and OpenSolaris.