Open source CRM software meets Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM

While SugarCRM is releasing its commercial open source SugarExchange, Salesforce.com is welcoming open source applications to AppExchange.

Open source and on-demand CRM software are experiencing a convergence of sorts, brought together by online application exchanges.

Mirroring Salesforce.com's AppExchange platform, Cupertino, Calif.-based SugarCRM today launched its own marketplace for business applications based on its open source CRM tool.

Entitled SugarExchange, the project provides a place for developers to capitalize on SugarCRM's commercial open source model, according to Clint Oram, general manager of SugarOnline.

Under SugarCRM's commercial open source strategy, customers can get one version of its CRM software application with a free download and free access to the source code or pay for a proprietary professional edition that comes with additional functionality and support. CRM analysts and experts have predicted big things for open source CRM software this year.

SugarExchange now has 100 products available that can tie into a company's SugarCRM deployment, such as lead management, e-commerce and Web self-service applications. The release complements SugarForge.com, the company's online development community where developers exchange ideas, code, applications and extensions, Oram said.

"SugarForge had more of a project focus -- a site for developers," he said. "Non-developers were a little confused. It wasn't for the sales operations or systems administrator looking for a plug in. The two sites really work together. SugarForge is where it's built and SugarExchange is where it's sold."

Developers who have created a product on SugarForge can submit a contract proposal and have it listed on SugarExchange. Customers can then click through to a developer's Web site or order through SugarCRM, which has an embedded shopping cart providing the necessary order process if developers do not have those capabilities. SugarCRM requires that all applications be made available both for the open source SugarCRM and the professional edition.

"We're attracting the grass-roots developer, what we call the 'pajama developer,'" Oram said. "This is the next evolutionary step of building an open source community."

Sixty applications are currently available on SugarExchange for no charge, and an additional 40 applications are for sale. Products can be deployed either on-premise or on-demand. Novacoast, for example, provides integration between SugarCRM and the Asterisk open source telephony system either on-premise or on-demand. Other products include email response and email management, case management and, soon, a Lotus Notes plug in.

Meanwhile, open source applications are making their way onto Salesforce.com's AppExchange. The San Francisco-based company announced last week that JasperSoft Corp. is offering its open source-based BI tool on the platform. JasperSoft, a San Francisco-based open source BI provider, is offering Jasper4Salesforce, allowing customers to create BI reports within their Salesforce.com applications. Pricing starts at $20 per user per month, with a minimum of five users.

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