SugarCRM has long driven roughly 30 percent of its revenue through Sugar-on-Demand, its hosted offering. But in a recent TechTarget interview, SugarCRM CEO John Roberts pushes the envelope a bit on what it means to be open source and cloud-based:
Today, SugarCRM is deployed on more than 55,000 servers worldwide and growing. Where are the servers? Those servers are in the cloud, they're not in local data centers. They're in all the cloud infrastructure providers from Amazon to Rackspace to British Telecom to IBM. They need applications, and SugarCRM is an application that runs basically on every cloud environment that is being built right now.
At the same time, we believe the maturation of the Internet to a cloud infrastructure, where you can run your application in the cloud but also have a choice of cloud providers, is a great advantage to customers in terms of giving them more control over systems architecture but also giving them more price control. I think the days of software vendors doing everything from the hardware to the software and building a 100% lock-in based model doesn't really benefit the customer anymore.
It's subtle, but Roberts says something profoundly important: choice in cloud providers. This isn't something that is specific to open source, per se, but it's something that Google, Microsoft, and others have bypassed in their attempts to make the cloud an extension of their desktop/server-based applications, rather than making such applications portable between different cloud providers.
Of course, by virtue of having its code open source, SugarCRM also gets the benefit of letting its software proliferate through these different cloud providers, which can then return to pay SugarCRM money if the service proves itself out and it wants either support or additional software not available in the open-source version. End-users, for their parts, always have the option to take their data out of the cloud and run it locally using open-source SugarCRM.
In this way, open source gives choice and flexibility to the cloud providers, who in turn deliver choice and flexibility to end-customers. SugarCRM starts the process, and benefits from it. It's a smart use of cloud computing to grow an open-source business, one that I would expect to see more open-source vendors try.
Disclosure: I am an advisor to SugarCRM.
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