SugarCon 2009 - The First Day
Today is the first day of SugarCon, the SugarCRM Developers Conference in San Francisco. We started the day early with a 7:00 am the flight from Austin so it's been a pretty long day. I'll make this post short and write more (and post pictures) tomorrow.
My first impression is that SugarCon has grown immensely over the last two years. There are over 600 people attending this year and the breadth of subjects covered in the conference is greatly expanded.
The highlights of the day were the kick-off speech by John Roberts, the co-founder and CEO of Sugar, and the keynote address by Michael Lewis, author of "Liar's Poker." John presented a lot of information on how far Sugar has come over the last few years. I was impressed to learn that there have been over 5.2 million downloads of SugarCRM since the product was released in 2004. John also showed a slide of SugarCRM downloads mapped on a Google Earth rendering of the globe. It was pretty impressive. SugarCRM is being used all over the world, with huge concentrations in the U.S. and Europe. The other highlights of the day were the product roadmap presentations that discussed the new features we will see in versions 5.5 and 6.0 of SugarCRM. Here's a quick summary. More information will be released as the week progresses.
SugarCRM 5.5 Features
Beta release scheduled for March 2009. General availability release scheduled for mid-summer. New features will include:
- Enhancements to SugarCRM's external application interfaces (API's) that make it easier to integrate Sugar with other applications. This will include an upgrade to the SOAP interface as well as a new REST API that will be faster and more secure than the current APIs.
- A new theme framework will be introduced that will make the process of creating a custom user interface theme for SugarCRM much easier, increasing user acceptance of the application.
- A new password management system will be introduced with provisions to manage the strength of passwords and to require that users reset passwords periodically.
- The SugarCRM Studio is being enhanced to include support for wireless access to SugarCRM. Users will be able to view custom SugarCRM modules and custom fields on their browser-enabled mobile phone.
- A "dynamic teams" feature will be added that will allow multiple sales teams to own a single SugarCRM record.
- A variety of other, smaller enhancements will include improvements to the data import tools, enhancements to the way target lists are managed in email campaigns and improvements to SugarCRM's built-in email client. Several performances and scalability enhancements will cut the amount of memory required to run SugarCRM by 25% to 40%.
Beta release scheduled for Fall, 2009. General availability release scheduled for the end of 2009. New features will include:
- A Partner Relationship Management system integrated into SugarCRM.
- New "Demand Generation" features including rules-driving marketing campaigns that will automate the process the scoring and following-up on new leads.
Some other desirable features that had been part of the product roadmap are being pushed back to SugarCRM 6.5. These include a re-write of the SugarCRM calendaring system, a full-text search capability, and new sales territory management features. Some of these changes are a departure from the product roadmap previously released by Sugar, but the crowd seemed to think that these priorities are correct. We'll see, I'm sure that customers and partners, including W-Systems, will be providing more detailed feedback tomorrow.