SugarCRM Plus Some Ubuntu fun ~ Ask The Admin

Friday, September 21, 2007

SugarCRM Plus Some Ubuntu fun

SugarCRM is the world's leading provider of commercial open source customer relationship management (CRM) software for companies of all sizes. Sugar easily adapts to any business environment by offering a more flexible, cost-effective alternative than proprietary applications. SugarCRM's open source architecture allows companies to more easily customize and integrate customer-facing business processes in order to build and maintain more profitable relationships. SugarCRM offers several deployment options, including on-demand, on-premise and appliance-based solutions to suit customers' security, integration and configuration needs.

That is SugarCRM in a nutshell. To simplify it, it is only cheaper, if not free, and customizable.

I've been playing with Sugar since version 2.0. Now they are releasing a beta of 5.0 and it has come a long way.

In short, if you need to keep a list of contacts, projects and potential sales/opportunities/leads, then Sugar is what you want to be using. It does everything that Salesforce does and more because it is open source and fully customizable.

While I am not a sales guy, I appreciate what it can do because of our current CRM situation. We have a product that is developed in Lotus Notes databases and for lack of a better way to say it, it blows chunks. It is clunky, hard to work with and hard to customize to the way we do business, not to mention that the modules do not interact with each other quite well! Ironically enough, our current CRM provider is limiting development of our product to make a tool that ties Blackberry devices to....SugarCRM!

Need a field...simply add it. That is how simple Sugar is. You cannot ask for anything more than that.

As far as getting Sugar to play with, go to their downloads and they have installers that work for OS X, Windows, Linux and there is even a VMWare appliance, so you can be up and running within literally 10 minutes or less.

Best of all...if the software doesn't do what you want out of the box, check out the SugarForge and see if someone has made a freebie that does it, or there are people who charge for their apps too. Also, Sugar will do customizations for you, for a fee of course. There are add ins like Field Force that tie it to a Blackberry, toolbars for Thunderbird, Outlook and Firefox.

There are 3 different versions of it, Open Source/Community Edition, Professional, and Enterprise. You get more features and scalability in the Professional/Enterprise as well as you can use other databased other than the standard MySQL that comes with it.

I recommend that if you have a sales force that uses a CRM product that they look at Sugar and what it can do for them.

I did mention some Ubuntu fun earlier today so here it is....

I'm doing a trial run of Sugar for our head 'sales' guys here so that they can compare and contrast Sugar to our current debacle of a product. So the standard installer sets Sugar up for default port 8080. That is fine for testing, but I wanted to us standard 80 for when this chap gets to start using it after I get all the data into it.

Well.....Ubuntu doesn't like port 80....well it does, but it likes it for 'known services'. In other words, you cannot compile apache and run it on port 80. Ubuntu reserves all ports under 1024 as 'privileged ports'. Therefore only a 'known and trusted' service can access them properly....well this was a problem as you could imagine.

So I Googled the crap out of the problem. No resolutions other than to do some port forwarding from 80->8080. No bueno thank you very much.

Using the start script from Sugar, after Apache was configured for port 80 I could get MySQL running but not Apache. If I ran the script under sudo I could get Apache running but not MySQL.

Digging through logs it looked like MySQL was failing because of permissions under sudo. Seems sudo didn't have the proper access to the files and folders that MySQL needed to run. ...sigh...

Dug through the MySQL configs and logs to find that I needed to create a user on the system called mysql with the proper, default MySQL password. Then give it permissions to the proper folders. Here I encountered a new problem. The default MySQL password is pwd. Ubuntu through the GUI will only allow a minimum password length of 6 characters. Into the terminal I go, run a sudo passwd mysql with the proper password, voila! MySQL boots!

But SugarCRM would still not access things properly. I sigh one more time. More digging and googling. I come up with the idea that I need to give the system user, moi, an account in MySQL with full access to the database. Did this, stopped Apache and MySQL, re-ran the start script with sudo and all came up!

That security was a bitch to get around. I don't like the 'privileged ports' that Ubuntu has, but I understand why it exists.

After that I added some port forwarding on my firewall/router and Sugar is accessible outside and inside the wall.

How about that for a ramble???