SugarCRM Gets an IBM i Solution Edition, New Social Media Connections
April 12, 2011 Alex Woodie
SugarCRM last week passed another milestone on its quest to gain the respect and business of IBM i customers and business partners when it announced a joint solution edition with IBM at its SugarCon user conference. The Silicon Valley firm also announced new social media extensions for Sugar version 6, as well as the acquisition of iEnterprises‘ iExtensions, which gives SugarCRM new integration points with Lotus Notes.
Like it does for other enterprise software companies that participate in the Solution Edition program, the new IBM i Solution Edition for SugarCRM offering is designed to make it easier and less expensive for customers to acquire and deploy the open source customer relationship management software on Power Systems iron.
According to IBM, customers that buy one of the 100-plus Solution Edition offerings can save up to 35 percent off the cost of hardware and software bought separately. With that kind of discount, it’s no wonder that the solution edition program has become a major sales engine since Big Blue revamped the program late last summer. Guy Paradise, worldwide marketing manager for IBM i, tells IT Jungle that the advent of Solution Edition packages priced as low as $6,500 and based on Power Systems Model 720 machines were a big reason for the success of the program in IBM’s fourth quarter.
Now SugarCRM is hopping on the IBM i Solution Edition bandwagon and hoping it can reap some of the business benefits. In addition to pricing discounts, the Cupertino, California-based company says customers can gain operational advantages by choosing the offering.
For starters, SugarCRM says the new offering gives customers “more control over their data” as well as the capability to “leverage IBM investments.” Both of these claims would seem to be based on the work that IBM and its partners (notably SugarCRM’s fellow Cupertino resident, Zend Technology) have done to integrate PHP into the IBM i environment. SugarCRM is written in PHP, and has been the highest profile enterprise application written in PHP to be deployed on the platform since PHP arrived about five years ago.
However, SugarCRM’s IBM i statement doesn’t address the uncertainty permeating the open source world since Oracle decided to end IBM i support for its MySQL database. MySQL is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, database on which to run SugarCRM. (Interestingly, support for the Oracle 10g database was one of the other announcements SugarCRM made at SugarCon. Of course, this means nothing for IBM i, which has had only two supported relational database management systems [RDBMS] in its 22-year history: DB2/400 and MySQL. The effort to run the Oracle RDBMS on the platform, you will recall, was dropped years ago.)
Despite the lingering uncertainty over the future of MySQL on the platform (which IBM needs to address soon), there are other reasons to consider SugarCRM on IBM i. Here’s one of them, according to SugarCRM: “highly coordinated, joint service teams” composed of technical support professionals who work for SugarCRM and IBM. It always makes customers feel good to know that IBM has committed to supporting a given CRM or ERP system on the IBM i platform.
Clint Oram, co-founder and CTO of SugarCRM, also had some kind things to say about the System i, which is the name IBM previously used to refer to the platform now known primarily by the name of its operating system, IBM i. “The System i environment has proven itself as a leading deployment platform in the market, and we are excited to continue delivering combined private and public cloud-based solutions for System i users around the world,” Oram states in a press release.
The acquisition of the iExtensions CRM system from Murray Hill, New Jersey-based iEnterprises will give SugarCRM a boost in the Notes and Domino world. SugarCRM says the acquisition gives the company native support for Lotus Notes, including plug-ins for Notes email and calendar features, and a connector to Lotus Domino. The company says it expects to introduce the enhancements in the upcoming spring release of SugarCRM.
SugarCRM also announced the availability of Sugar for IBM LotusLive, which was first announced earlier this year. The offering enables customers to access LotusLive, which is one of IBM’s social collaboration tools, and provides access to things like email and Web conferencing running on premise or in a cloud. Sugar for IBM LotusLive lets SugarCRM customers access these resources directly from their Sugar 6 screens.
SugarCRM is no newbie to social media craze, and already has capabilities in Sugar version 6 that allow users to collect data from social media sites, such as ZoomInfo, JigSaw, and Linked-In, and use them to collaborate with customers and prospects.
The vendor added more social networking capabilities at SugarCon, including integrations with the two leading Web conferencing solutions, Cisco WebEx and Citrix Systems GoToMeeting. The company also enhanced its “activity streams,” which are designed to connect with external social media feeds, such as Facebook and Twitter. SugarCRM is giving customers new capabilities in the area of integrating Facebook news feeds and Twitter streams, as well as replying to Facebook posts and viewing user profile photos within posts.
SugarCRM also announced a new version of the Sugar CRM system that’s preloaded and pre-integrated with the SalesView sales intelligence solution from InsideView. The vendor says the unified solution will allow users to tap into thousands of global data sources, including popular social media websites, to give users “relevant and actionable insight into their prospects and customers.”
Expert navigation of the social media-sphere is already becoming an important ingredient to success in business today, and will only become more so in the future. Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM, makes the argument that his company’s software can help orchestrate a company’s social media activities.
“Today’s professionals are demanding business tools that enable them to work the way they want to work–in a connected, always-on world with fewer barriers,” Augustin states in a press release. “No other CRM platform offers the breadth of social business and collaboration offerings in such an open and flexible manner.”