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SugarCRM 5.5 Expands Open Source CRM

Open source CRM vendor SugarCRM is ramping up its application with the upcoming version 5.5 release, officially announced on Thursday. SugarCRM 5.5 is a major release including new Web Services and mobility features that expand the functionality and extensibility of the platform.

The new SugarCRM release comes as the open source company deals with a change in leadership and repositions itself as a cloud vendor taking on proprietary offerings from Salesforce.com and Oracle.

"This is an interesting release from what it can do to and how it can enable people," Martin Schneider, director of marketing for SugarCRM told InternetNews.com.

From an enablement point of view, SugarCRM 5.5 now has full support for REST Web Services as well as support for SOAP .

"We're really trying to support Web-based architectures, to make it easy to connect to third-party cloud based Web services like Amazon," Schneider said. "We're also letting people with REST, to connect to their own online catalogs and information repositories that they have."

Schneider added that the items that people are connecting SugarCRM are more Web-based than ever before, and as such there is a real need for the broader REST support that version 5.5 will implement.

Mobility

SugarCRM is also extending its platform to mobile users the new Mobile Studio feature. Schneider explained that previous versions of SugarCRM had limited mobility options that are now being expanded.

With version 5.5, users can view their SugarCRM data on mobile Web browsers on RIM Blackberrys, Apple iPhones and Palm smartphones. The SugarCRM administrators can now actually customize and edit the layout view that the mobile users receive. User log in by way of the same URL they would log into for wired access and are automatically delivered the mobile view that is appropriate for their device.

"The idea is to streamline the mobile view so when on mobile web browsers and allow them to get workflows that are simplified," Schneider said.

Team capabilities

While CRM can sometimes be an application that has the most practical utility for an individual, it also has a great deal of utility for groups as well. To that end, SugarCRM 5.5 adds new dynamic team capabilities that lets multiple users handle and view records.

"Now that we this feature you have to ask why has it taken us this long to add this features, it's something that just makes sense," Schneider said. "CRM is often looked at from an account centric point of view, and assigned to a sales rep or a master owner. But we realize that in the world today, collaborative selling is key and multiple people need to see the same data and access the same records."

Offline storage

SugarCRM has an on-demand cloud offering that it expanded earlier this year as well as an Express version that is a hosted, supported version.

For cloud versions of SugarCRM, one issue that SugarCRM 5.5 will not address is the issue of offline access. Without a network connection (wired or wireless), users do no have access to their data. Offline storage is something that Google Gears provides and offline access is also part of the emerging HTML5 specification.

"We've talked about offline storage and the big question is how do we make it easy to support it," Schneider said. "Google has one thing, Safari has another the problem is how quickly will all the major browser support it?"