Open-source vendor sweetens CRM pot

SugarCRM began shipping the alpha version of its open-source Sugar Sales Professional software in the spring, released the product commercially in September and made Version 2.0 available last month.

This week the speedy vendor delivers a pair of preconfigured, Linux-based appliances called Sugar Cubes. The 1005 costs US$4,495 and can handle up to 100 users, and the 3005 starts at US$7,995 and can support up to 400 people. SugarCRM's software runs on the "LAMP stack" of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. The entire application was written in PHP, which gives it exceptional performance, says Jacob Taylor, SugarCRM's vice president of engineering and co-founder.

In fact, the company is so proud of the software's performance that with each page refresh, it displays the response time. If you get tired of paying the annual support fee of US$239 per user for Sugar Sales Professional, you can simply stop -- and keep your data, the application and, of course, the source code, which can be customized by your own PHP gurus to your heart's content. Tara Smith, SugarCRM's director of marketing, claims that gives her company a big edge over "If you leave Salesforce, you get your data but not the app to run it," she says.

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