SugarCRM Updated with Version 5.5 Beta
June 2, 2009 Alex Woodie
System i shops are among the companies being encouraged to take a look at the beta of SugarCRM version 5.5, a new release of the open source customer relationship management software unveiled last week by SugarCRM. Better collaboration among team members is a central theme of new features in the release, which is expected to become generally available sometime during summer.
Last week, acting CEO Larry Augustin, who took over after the sudden resignation in early May of chief executive John Roberts, opened the barn door and let out a beta of version 5.5. This release brings several new features that should help Sugar users collaborate more effectively in managing customers, making sales, and marketing tasks.
Among the new features is a new mobile view editor that gives administrators greater control over how their SugarCRM screens look on iPhones and other smart mobile phones. (The software gained support for mobile phones a year ago with version 5.1.) This new feature is expected to make SugarCRM more usable for salespeople and other mobile employees who access the software from smart phones.
Version 5.5 also brings a new dynamic teams feature that should give specified users the capability to give other users or teams of users access to specific records, without requiring clearance from the administrator. This should make it easier to give employees with different responsibilities access to the same records or accounts, instead of assigning a group of records or an account to an individual or a team. The mobile editor and dynamic team features are only available in the Professional and Enterprise versions of the software.
All versions of the software gain a new themes framework feature that gives users more options to customize the look of their SugarCRM implementation. The capability to enforce strong passwords and password expirations is also available in all four versions of the product, as are the new Web services features, including a streamlined API that should boost performance and support for REST, which should make it easier to integrate SugarCRM with e-commerce apps and social networks.
Other new features in version 5.5 include the capability to filter reports on a per-record or per-user basis; the capability to add discounts for each product in sales quotes; and the elimination of the EXT JS GUI framework by YUI in e-mails, reports, and developer tools. Previously, SugarCRM had supported EXT JS and YUI, requiring developers to work with two libraries.
SugarCRM is a suite of software products designed to help sales and marketing organizations better understand and serve their customers so they can increase sales and make more money. Originally created as a SourceForge project in 2004, the product has attracted millions of downloads, becoming one of the Web’s most successful open source products.
SugarCRM’s popularity has helped to prove that the open source LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) could be used to compete with more established proprietary server stacks from IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. Today the software is used by half a million users at 4,000 organizations in 75 different languages, according to SugarCRM, and helps to employ 150 people at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
i5/OS support was brought to the software in July 2007. System i shops commonly run the software on an open source platform that consists of the Zend Core or Framework PHP environment, the Apache Web server, and the MySQL database. It also supports Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle 10g databases.
Four versions of the SugarCRM product are available, including one open source edition, called Sugar Community Edition, and three commercial versions: Sugar Express ($7 per user per month), Sugar Professional ($30) and Sugar Enterprise ($50). The software can be installed at the customer’s site, or installed at a hosting firm’s data center and accessed remotely by users over the Web. For more information or to download the version 5.5 beta, visit www.sugarcrm.com.