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Open Source CRM Opportunity May Be in the Cloud: Page 2

By Drew Robb     Feedback
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'The Cloud Exists Because of Open Source'

Martin Schneider, senior director of communications at SugarCRM, believes that the convergence of the cloud, mobile computing and open source are helping open source applications gain traction. As a result, ISVs, VARs and end users now have more open, interoperable and cloud-ready components on which to build and manage processes like CRM, ERP and e-commerce.

"The cloud exists because of open source," said Schneider. "Any tech company that is truly working in the cloud or offering a cloud service is leveraging open source in some way."

He finds it amusing that proprietary SaaS providers like Salesforce.com label their offerings as part of the cloud. To his mind, they are not true cloud applications in that they are not open, portable and as free to own and scale as open source-powered cloud services and systems. Case in point: VMware has been erecting its own open source-based cloud stack. Others will likely follow suit.

The key differentiator is whether the vendor offers user access to source code, as opposed to locking them in to proprietary environments, he said.

"In time, this walled garden will prove impossible to scale to any greater lengths and will crumble," said Schneider.

Schneider said interoperability, faster deployment and customers being able to control their own destiny are becoming prized features, so many CRM vendors are trying to follow suit. The problem, he said, is that some CRM software is too dated to adapt to the challenges of being a Web-based tool with open development and subscribing to other open source principles. He sees ample opportunity for open source CRM to take root, particularly at the mid-market and SMB level. But he isn't planning to ignore the enterprise space.

"SugarCRM is a horizontal CRM provider, selling to all industries and market segments," said Schneider. "That said, the product is very popular among manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and technology providers.

“We do sell to the enterprise, but mostly through our expansive VAR partner network, as they perform most of the customizations and other professional services traditionally required by large-scale enterprise CRM deployments," he said.


This article was originally published on October 8, 2010
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