SugarCRM Unveils its Data Center Edition

Cupertino, Calif.-based SugarCRM has sweetened the deal for its enterprise customers and partners. Those looking to take on the role of solution provider can now do so with the new Data Center Edition (DCE) product line from Sugar. Providing the tools, templates, and the SugarCRM platform, the vendor allows customers and partners to take it from there.

"This is a message from Sugar, saying, 'We are a horizontal CRM player; we have no interest in verticals. We want our partners to do that,'" points out China Martens, senior analyst with The 451 Group. "With SaaS-in-a-box, it is saying, 'Here's the infrastructure we use to manage multiple-CRM instances within Sugar. We will package it up; you can do it on your own.' "

The DCE allows users to manage multiple instances of SugarCRM products -- something that CRM reseller Centurio CRM, one of the vendor's partners and DCE beta testers, is now doing, according to Michael Duffy, Sweden-based Centurio's chief executive officer. His company, he says, is now delivering SugarCRM under the brand name "Centurio CRM On-Demand powered by SugarCRM." "The packages are totally rebranded and localized for the Nordic region. Currently we offer the packages localized for languages such as English, Swedish, Finnish, and Czech. In the future we will also deliver the packages localized for Danish and Norwegian," he says.

In addition to giving its partners the ability to serve as solution providers, SugarCRM is allowing its enterprise users to take hold of the software in order to explore vertical customization on their own. Timothy Hickernell, senior analyst with Info-Tech Research Group, notes that this is an emerging trend that providers such as Microsoft (with its partnership with EDS) and SugarCRM have picked up on. "We are seeing a pushback in the idea that was popular 10 years ago, with extreme verticalization," Hickernell says, adding that enterprise and midmarket companies want customization from solution providers, not big CRM vendors. Some enterprises, he says, are looking to manage solutions internally, and may be less enamored of verticalization by vendors -- and perhaps less enamored of complex and bulky vendors in general. "This [DCE] is giving solution providers the ability to really roll their own CRM with a platform that's extensive, and not have all the customization of the vendor thrown at them," Hickernell points out. "They can manage the relationship with the end customer."

Hickernell also comments on the trend of mixing and matching CRM solutions, whether on-demand, on-premise, or hosted. He says many customers are now seeking to choose from multiple solution providers, rather than being stuck with a complex single solution. Additionally, Hickernell emphasizes the inclination toward the hybrid model, which he says will make or break a vendor's success in the next few years.

"It's really the right time for this emerging trend, and for companies like Microsoft and Sugar, who have multiple offerings, to realize the solution provider is really where the relationship will be," Hickernell says. "It gives them extreme flexibility."

Both Hickernell and Martens say that that the Data Center Edition isn't just a smart move for SugarCRM -- but good timing, too. "It's a wake-up call for [software-as-a-service] companies who have struggled with partners or have partners who find themselves not getting the leverage they've been promised by the vendor," Martens adds. She points out that the Data Center Edition should garner new enterprise customers for SugarCRM, as well as some fresh, rich partnerships.

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