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SugarCRM Hosting Review

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Data Center and Delivery Considerations

Hosting and Software Delivery
SugarCRM offers customers choice among software delivery models. The CRM software can be deployed among multiple clouds, installed on-premises or acquired in an appliance.

Sugar hosts its CRM software from Equinix and Rackspace data centers in California and the UK with fail-over backup from a data center in Atlanta. About three-quarters of all Sugar customers that elect hosting choose Sugar On-Demand as their host; with the remaining allocated over partner and third party hosts. Sugar offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a 99.5 percent uptime guarantee, measured monthly. Unfortunately, the SLA puts the onus of reporting downtime on the customer, and further requires that customers inform Sugar 30 days in advance if they will exceed their prior months transactions volumes by more than 25 percent—something that seems a bit ridiculous for company's running promotions or incurring seasonal spikes. There is a financial credit for non-conformance. In the event of a critical incident, a one day services credit is granted to the customer. If two or more critical incidents occur within a calendar month, a one month services credit is granted. The maximum services credit to any customer in any twelve month subscription period is limited to three months. Sugar does not provide uptime or online performance visibility as do some SaaS CRM competitors.

Via its international partner network, SugarCRM can be hosted from data centers throughout the world. This global delivery is particularly valuable to customers in countries with less sophisticated Internet infrastructure and helps to avoid online performance degradation from excessive web hops, jitter and trans-continental latency. The high number of in-country data centers hosting the CRM software may also provide confidence to customers who prefer that their data remain in-country for cultural or regulatory concerns.

SugarCRM's architecture is unique among on-demand CRM products and that differentiation incurs both positive and negative implications for data center hosting organizations and their customers. The product does not use a traditional multi-tenant architecture but instead uses what the vendor calls a "multi-instance" architecture. We've heard elements of this model described as an isolated tenant or single-tenant model in the past. This approach effectively uses a shared services model for hardware and IT infrastructure however provisions every customer their own database and application instance.

On the positive side, this approach can increase flexibility and portability for the customer. Customer data is further segregated, as opposed to being commingled in a common database, which permits simpler conversion between on-demand and on-premise deployments and may provide improved actual or perceived assurances for privacy and security conscience buyers. This architecture tends to be best received in industries highly sensitive about data privacy and information security, such as financial services and public sector/government.

On the not so positive side, this architecture does not provide the same system administration and infrastructure efficiencies or economies of scale as a multi-tenant architecture. This can lead to increased maintenance and management costs, increased hardware expenditures, pro-longed upgrade conversions and a slowdown in product innovation.

Architecture and technology aside, at the end of the day SugarCRM is one of the few CRM vendors to offer hosting portability. Customers can choose to run their CRM software in a private cloud or on any of the leading public clouds such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace or Sugar's own On-Demand cloud. This flexibility further protects against vendor lock-in and permits customers to tap into the public cloud that best meets their uptime reliability, Internet performance and service level agreement (SLA) objectives.

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SugarCRM is one of the few CRM vendors to offer hosting portability. Customers can choose to run their CRM software in a private cloud or on any of the leading public clouds such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace or Sugar's own On-Demand cloud. This flexibility protects against vendor lock-in and permits customers to tap into the public cloud that best meets their uptime reliability, Internet performance and service level agreement (SLA) objectives.

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