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The Rapid Development of SugarCRM with LAMP

How sweet it is

After all the buzz about SugarCRM at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo this year in Boston, we caught up with the company's co-founder and VP of Open Source, Clint Oram, to find out more about his hot new project.

How did you get started with SugarCRM?
The three of us who co-founded SugarCRM, Inc., and the SugarCRM Open Source Project worked together in the CRM industry for several years and saw that the time was right for a commercial Open Source CRM application. With my previous company, I encountered Open Source software and quickly realized how powerful a software development model it really was. We all saw the industry-changing implications of what Open Source development so naturally delivers - open collaboration between the product developers, end users, and IT implementers in building a solution that not only meets the initial business requirements but can also grow with the business. So the three of us quit our jobs in April 2004 and started building SugarCRM.

What choices did you make in technologies to use?
We initially thought we would be building a J2EE solution since we had several years experience with that technology. However, I was personally more familiar with PHP and started prototyping screens in the LAMP environment. While building the prototype, we started researching PHP and found out how mature it had become as a Web application development environment. It had all the scalability and performance characteristics we needed plus a key advantage over J2EE. We figured that the average IT developer finds PHP applications far more approachable and easy-to-deploy than J2EE applications. We felt we could get far greater penetration in IT shops around the world if we delivered a PHP-based solution. It turns out we were right on the money with that bet.

And why did you choose MySQL?
We chose MySQL for the same reasons that we chose PHP. It's by far the most common Open Source database, easy-to-use, and well supported by the company MySQL AB.

Looking back, are you glad you made these choices?
Absolutely. We feel a key factor in the success of SugarCRM has been the LAMP technology stack. It's very easy to install PHP and MySQL on a variety of operating systems and the Sugar Suite itself installs in minutes. Especially with business applications, the technology must be an enabler, not a roadblock. The LAMP stack is world-renowned for being a powerful technology enabler.

SugarCRM was developed very quickly. Does the LAMP stack play a role?
Definitely. The LAMP stack played a key role in the rapid development of the Sugar Suite. Having been an implementer for other CRM solutions, I continue to be amazed at how quickly we can build functionality. With millions of Web sites around the world running on PHP and MySQL, there are an incredible amount of resources available for building LAMP-based applications. Customizations that took me weeks to develop in the other CRM solutions take me just days in SugarCRM.

Did your technology choices help you establish a developer community?
Our developer community, centered around SugarForge.org (http://sugarforge.org), has grown very quickly over the past year. SugarForge provides software project management capabilities that let users easily collaborate, contribute, develop, and access Sugar Suite extensions. With so many PHP developers and CRM developers worldwide, SugarForge.org has become the destination for Open Source CRM developers.

Can you tell us a little about your plans for the next year or so?
We will continue rounding out the marketing, sales, and customer service capabilities of SugarCRM over the course of this year, paying particular attention to what our community is asking for. As an Open Source company, we have a very open, on-going dialog with our user and developer community. We feel it's vitally important to take our direction from our community, so we'll continue to do just that.

SIDEBAR:

The Team

The founding team has both large company and startup experience representing an excellent mix of engineering and marketing expertise. The three founders' work experience includes E.piphany, BroadVision, Aurum Software, Octane Software, Hewlett Packard and Symantec.

John Roberts, Co-Founder and CEO

John Roberts has an enterprise CRM applications track record spanning 11 years. Prior to co-founding SugarCRM, John held product management and sales engineering positions at E.piphany, BroadVision, Baan/Aurum Software and IBM. John holds a BS in business.

Clint Oram, Co-Founder and VP of Open Source

Clint Oram's 8 years in enterprise software experience spans product management, professional services and software engineering. Prior to co-founding SugarCRM, Clint worked at E.piphany, Octane Software, Hewlett Packard and PG&E. Clint holds a BS in computer science.

Jacob Taylor, Co-Founder and VP of Engineering

Before co-founding SugarCRM, Jacob Taylor was the senior development manager at E.piphany in charge of platform infrastructure and services. He also worked at Symantec Corp and Enterprise Engines. He attained an MS in computer science. He has pioneered the SugarCRM architecture plus the design strategy for the solution.

More Stories By Maria Winslow

Maria Winslow is the author of The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source, available at http://www.lulu.com/practicalGuide and can be contacted at maria.winslow@windows-linux.com.

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