Ideally this would have been published a couple of months ago at the actual four year anniversary (October) of the release of SuiteCRM. We were so focused on customer projects and the development of the SuiteCRM 7.10 release, that the date passed. We forgot to celebrate it either internally or with the community that engages with the project.
SuiteCRM has an obvious connection with SugarCRM. Between 2004 and 2013 SugarCRM were one of the hottest tech tickets in town. Today, they’re largely irrelevant. We don’t find them on bid/candidate technology lists very often. They don’t get mentioned in sales conversations. We encounter them mostly when their customers approach us to migrate to SuiteCRM. However, it’s impossible to write this article without reference to them.
My personal history goes back to the earliest versions of SugarCRM in 2004. In those days, their website contained the following inspiring statement:
“When you build a commercial grade CRM application based on the combined ideas and resources from CRM developers across the globe, you simply produce a better, more revolutionary product than any proprietary software or hosting company can think-up and build on its own. We believe the SugarCRM open source business model is far more efficient than the classic approach to building propriety CRM software. We do not believe in the notion of hiding access to code in order to lock-in customers.”
We could write that same statement today. Replace SugarCRM with SuiteCRM and it works. It encapsulates the things that are great and good about open source. It embraces the open source development model. It embraces the community of users and developers that surround any great open source project. It represents the SuiteCRM values .
Fast forward to 2005, Sugar’s second year of operation. It was apparent that SugarCRM were an “open core” company and not an open source one. They had introduced Professional and Enterprise editions. These were proprietary and included high value business logic that the open source Community Edition didn’t. They were already hiding access to code in order to lock-in customers.
Community Edition was a Minimum Viable Product. It was a clickbait entrypoint to the same proprietary software business model pursued by Microsoft and Salesforce.
By 2008, four years after they launched, the Professional and Enterprise editions had grown considerably. Community Edition remained the neglected orphan. Any improvements were marginal. Core functionality remained unchanged. Within a few years SugarCRM would demonstrate the shallowness of their commitment to open source: They abandoned it completely.
The year was 2013. SugarCRM walked away from open source and SuiteCRM was born. We took Community Edition and determined to make it “the better, more revolutionary product than any proprietary software or hosting company can think-up and build on its own.” We launched with a commitment to keep every line of code free and open source.
Fast forward four years. We haven’t changed, we haven’t deviated. Every line of code is free to acquire. Every line of code is open source.
We’ve introduced reporting, workflow, security, knowledge base, portal, outlook integration, contracts, quotes, products … The list is extensive and the efforts to extend and improve continues.
SuiteCRM competes head-on with Salesforce. Some of the world’s largest corporations use it for deeply strategic projects in preference to Salesforce. It’s available in more than 20 languages. There are more than 80,000 members of our community. The software has been downloaded more than 800,000 times. There are more than 120 third-party extensions in our marketplace.
SuiteCRM is the 800lb gorilla in the world of open source CRM. It is consuming the oxygen that the large proprietary vendors need to breathe. We expect they will asphyxiate eventually.
We’re pleased with what we have achieved so far. We are not complacent. We believe in continuous improvement. We believe that the open source business model is best approached with humility. We believe that open source communities are best approached with respect. We believe that building great software can only be achieved with great processes and great engineers.
Together, the SuiteCRM project team and the SuiteCRM community are a formidable force. We continue to build the “better, more revolutionary product”. We continue to beat Salesforce every time we compete against them. We continue to release regular updates. We continue to extend the functionality. We continue to grow the size and engagement of our community. We continue to attract contributors, users and customers from every corner of the globe.
In truth, I would go further. We are more than a formidable force. We are an unstoppable one.