This week I was at SugarCon 2010, the CRM conference. SugarCRM, one of my partners in the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA), is a leading provider of open source customer relationship management (CRM) software. SugarCon, is its global customer, partner and developer conference held April 12-14, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California. Microsoft along with Red Hat, Talend and Zend helped sponsor the conference. The event had a heavy cloud theme this year and the tagline “The Cloud is Open” was used.
SugarCRM has over 6,000 customers and more than half a million users rely on SugarCRM to execute marketing programs, grow sales, retain customers and create custom business applications. There was quite a different mix of people from business to technical there, about 800 attendees or so. There was a good vibe to the show and it had a focus on the attendees and partners. There was lots of interest in different topics; CRM, Social Networking, Open Source, Cloud Computing; private and public … and Microsoft’s presence at the event …. which brings me to why we were there …
The keynote “Open Source and Open Clouds” was presented by SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin who shared new product announcements and welcomed special guests to the stage to discuss how open source software is driving the next generation of CRM and Cloud services. Rob Craft, Microsoft’s Senior Director, Cloud ISV was one of the guest joining Augustin on stage. Craft shared with attendees how Microsoft is investing strongly in cloud services. “This is a deep, substantive long term investment from Microsoft,” he said. He shared the global presence Azure, being run from six datacenters in San Antonio, Chicago, Dublin, Amsterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong, with other datacenters coming ready too. Microsoft is guaranteeing 99.9 percent uptime for Azure, with customers getting a 10 percent rebate if this falls to over 99 percent uptime or 25 percent if it falls below that figure.
Larry then went on to demonstrate a beta of SugarCRM, a PHP application, running on Windows Azure and calling data from SQL Azure. Dan Moore, Sr. Platform Strategy Advisor, and Bhushan Nene, Principal Architect, from the Cloud ISV Team gave a follow-up session, “Introducing the Windows Azure Platform”, to the keynote with an overview of the benefits of launching cloud applications on Azure. We saw excitement from the conversations we had with several SugarCRM channel partners who attended the sessions and stopped by the booth. The Windows Azure platform is receiving enormous support and excitement throughout their ecosystem!
Along with the keynote and session, we had a booth in the exhibition area which saw quite a bit of traffic as well as a Microsoft Cloud Room where we discussed various benefits to the the Windows Azure platform and interoperating with Microsoft technologies. At the room I presented a session on “Data Tools for Microsoft and SugarCRM” where I showed our new interoperability bridge, SQL Server Reporting Services SDK for PHP: adding business intelligence and reporting features to PHP applications, and showing off an early preview of an IVA lab we will be releasing soon. This lab basically is a demonstration of SugarCRM data being called by SSRS reports using the PHP SDK and displaying results in the SugarCRM reports dashboard. The power of composing rich reports from SugarCRM data plus using the freely available SQL Server Express advanced services from Business Intelligence Studio or Visual Studio is a powerful combination. The picture below gives a glimpse of the demonstration in action. Look out for an announce on this blog shortly!
Other notable highlights of the event …
“A Family Tree for Humanity” where author and population geneticist, Spencer Wells of National Geographic will take us on an epic journey that spans the globe, using DNA to trace the migration routes of our ancient ancestors and revealing the incredible tapestry of human diversity created along the way. I found the science behind it and the presentation fascinating. I would recommend taking a look at the Genographic project.
There was also a rip roaring tech talk by Newsweek reporter Daniel Lyons in “He’s Back! The Real Future of Technology with Fake Steve Jobs”.
Best of all, the SugarCon party on day one was an evening at the acclaimed California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. If you are a geek and one who loves biology this is a must see destination. We got to wine, dine and party there, a huge plus!
I would like to thank my friends from SugarCRM for welcoming us, especially Jason Nassi, Sr. Director of Product Management, who is my liaison from SugarCRM to the IVA; and Igor Spivak, Director of Product Management, Cloud Services for letting me use the live SugarCRM SQL Azure in my session demo. Thank you guys! I’m looking forward to more great interoperability stories we can tell together.
Jas Sandhu , Interoperability Vendor Alliance manager, @jassand