In deciding to buy MySQL last month, Sun was attracted to the open-source database company's very rapid growth rate and its revenue model, according to Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz.
Speaking in a keynote presentation at SugarCRM's SugarCon 2008 conference in California, Schwartz said MySQL was driving real value, innovation, and choice. Sun agreed to buy the company in a $1bn (£512m) deal.
"What was attractive was how profound their distribution was," Schwartz said. MySQL offers access to about 11 million deployments around the world, and Sun began to see MySQL delivering real value, innovation, and choice, he said. MySQL sells services and support for its database.
The future lies in open source, innovation, and freedom of choice, according to Schwartz. Open source, he said, represents choice for chief information officers. Developers, meanwhile, are making decisions about what runs in data centres, something that used to be the sole domain of the CIO.
Schwartz's being a keynote presenter at the conference presents a bit of irony in that the open-source Sugar CRM package is written in PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) rather than the Java language created and promoted by Sun. But Schwartz noted the Java Virtual Machine is being expanded to accommodate other languages. The JVM enables Java applications to run on platforms supporting the JVM.
"I think what you'll see from Sun is that we're just going to take the J off the JVM and just make it a VM," Schwartz said. He cited Sun's Da Vinci Machine project, which is an effort to expand language coverage of the JVM.
In other developments at the conference, SugarCRM laid out a roadmap of Sugar product releases planned for 2008.
Due in April or May, the 5.1 edition of Sugar focuses on small to medium enterprises. It will feature improvements in reporting, including about 20 pre-canned reports, as well as a new systems management console. Sugar 6.0, due in December, will be geared to large enterprises. A Java layer will link Sugar to other applications, such as the Lucene search engine.
In a morning keynote presentation, SugarCRM co-founder and CEO John Roberts touted a new era in "commercial open source."
A user of SugarCRM, Eddie White, director of Mania Technologie UK, which makes manufacturing equipment, uses the product as a database for marketing, customer care, and field service support. "The investment was very cost-effective in terms of overall license costs," White said. "We've been able to create a global database of customers and contacts."
Mania is looking to integrate its Sugar installation with its other systems, such as stock control and sales order management systems, White said.
The biggest hurdle to deploying Sugar has been getting users to embrace it who had been used to doing things another way, according to White. "It's been easy to use; it's just a question of getting people to change their work practice," he said.
While Mania did examine the source code of SugarCRM when doing administrative-level customisation, it did not make any changes to the code. The company may do this when it expands use of the product for customer care.