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SugarCRM has announced that it will offer its CRM applications on Windows Azure to enable its customers and value-added resellers (VARs) to benefit from the real-time scalability, high availability and on-demand infrastructure of the Microsoft cloud platform for web applications and services.

SugarCRM announced its plans at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2009 in Los Angeles. In a meeting with eWEEK, Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM, said, "We ported Sugar over to Azure to provide our customers with more choice. We’re a PHP app and Microsoft’s support for PHP in the platform was a big part of that. Also, SQL Server played a part n our decision as well."

In a statement, Augustin noted that, "With Windows Azure, Microsoft has built a true cloud computing platform going well beyond the simple hosted infrastructure that most service providers offer today. Windows Azure enables SugarCRM value added resellers to create and deploy unique solutions for customers around the globe," he wrote. "This new service is another key component of the Sugar Open Cloud, the SugarCRM cloud strategy for delivering simple, affordable CRM anywhere based on customer need. Sugar on Windows Azure combines the most user-friendly CRM appli-cation on the market with a highly available, scalable and secure cloud computing platform."

Moreover, Augustin said Microsoft and SugarCRM began working together in 2006 to deliver Sugar applications on top of Microsoft technology. SugarCRM supports IIS as well as Active Directory, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server. The two companies have continued to collaborate as part of the Interop Vendor Alliance. In August, SugarCRM announced Sugar Community Edition on the Microsoft Web Platform, a framework for developing, deploying and hosting Web applications.

"This really helps our channel strategy,"Augustin said. "This enables our partners to host and run their applications on Azure, another major platform. They can create extensions or customized versions of SugarCRM and they can run them on Azure. They don’t need to host it themselves."

Indeed, "Two-thirds of our business is through the channel, and half of our business in on the Windows platform anyway," Augustin said. "We do a lot of business through channel partners and resellers. And that’s because of the flexibility of the application. We really enable our partners to customize and deliver a great CRM solution."
The process for making SugarCRM applications available on Microsoft Windows Azure was simple and straightforward, taking just a couple weeks of development time, Augustin said.

“We are pleased to have SugarCRM running on Windows Azure," said Doug Hauger, general manager of Windows Azure at Microsoft, in a statement. "The ease by which SugarCRM was able to offer its CRM services demonstrates how the openness of the Windows Azure platform allowed it to deliver Web ap-plications using its tools of choice."

Meanwhile, Augustin said he also is very interested in the data-as-a service solution Microsoft announced at the PDC, codenamed "Dallas." According to Augustin, "There is a lot of interesting potential in the data services play Microsoft is getting into there. We could see the data service adding value for a variety of things from bringing in leads to service validation.

Clint Oram, SugarCRM’s vice presi-dent of product management and co-founder of the company, said Su-garCRM has had data services partnerships with companies such as Jigsaw, Hoover’s and LinkedIn, and he could see potential opportunities in teaming with or using Microsoft’s "Dallas" offering.

Augustin, who has been successful in launching several businesses based on open source technology, said he is "excited" to see that Microsoft continues to recognize the value of open source software. "They recognize there is value in the open source position. One thing Microsoft has done very well is support developers. And they recognize there are a lot of open source developers out there."

On a different note, SugarCRM on November 17 announced the appointment of Augustin to the role of full-time CEO. Augustin joined SugarCRM as interim CEO in May of 2009.