SugarCRM backs full open-source stack

SugarCRM Inc. became the latest open-source player to offer users a way to more simply install and support a full software stack comprising its own CRM (customer relationship management) application and other third-party offerings.

The applications vendor Thursday unveiled Sugar FastStack, a service to set up and support a stack of its Sugar Professional or Enterprise On-site product releases as well as the Apache Web Server, the PHP Web scripting language and the MySQL database.

FastStack can be installed on the three operating systems SugarCRM supports — Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. The installation process uses a wizard approach to walk users through installing each piece of the stack.

Creating stacks of software components is a growing trend among open-source players including OpenLogic Inc., Red Hat Inc., SourceLabs Inc. and SpikeSource Inc. The aim is to accelerate the adoption of open-source technologies with the vendors, not their customers, taking on more of the complexity involved in getting different components to work together.

“We’re not getting into the stacks business,” said Clint Oram, co-founder of SugarCRM. “We’re a business applications company. We’re making the underlying technologies below our applications as simple as possible for folks.

FastStack should have particular appeal to small companies with 15 to 20 SugarCRM seats that lack a deep level of technology expertise and may only employ a part-time IT support person, Oram said. While it’s not difficult for nontechnically savvy people to go to the various Web sites and install the individual open-source components, it’s hard to integrate all the components and optimize their combined performance, he added.

SugarCRM will offer full support for all the components of FastStack. To date, the company has yet to run into any issues with the open-source products that required going back to the Apache Software Foundation, MySQL AB or Zend Technologies Inc., the company behind PHP, for additional support, Oram said.

SugarCRM has been a partner of MySQL since 2004 and has yet to ask them to resolve a support issue, he added. But should any customer support issue require escalation, the vendor has strong relationships in place with MySQL and with BitRock S, which provides installation technology and second-tier support for both Apache and PHP.

Oram also noted that SugarCRM has been supporting Red Hat Inc.’s Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP in its Sugar Appliance, a dedicated device that runs its CRM applications, for the past two years.

SugarCRM intends to extend FastStack to support the other major Web server it supports, Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Information Server (IIS), and the two other databases the CRM applications run on — Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle Corp.’s eponymous offering — within the next six months, according to Oram.

FastStack is available for download from SugarCRM’s Web site for a one-time fee of US$499 for customers who are also purchasing either Sugar Professional On-Site or Sugar Enterprise On-Site. Professional costs $275 per user per year, while Enterprise is priced at $449 per user per year.

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