Apatar Connector Open Source SugarCRM
New Apatar Connector was recently released to aid those struggling with integration of open source suite SugarCRM with third-party applications, databases, flat files, other CRM/ERP applications and Web 2.0 destinations. Apatar claims to be able to do it all "without coding.”

Data Integration Without Coding?

Apatar, Inc., a provider of open source software tools for the data integration market, released the new SugarCRM connector that is designed to integrate data between the popular customer relation management system and a variety of third-party data sources, allowing for this data to be filtered, validated and cleansed. Apatar quotes Gartner to say that corporate developers spend approximately 65% percent of their effort building bridges between applications. With Apatar’s visual toolset, “SugarCRM users can perform even a complex data integration job without having to write a single line of a code.” One of the cool things about the new connector is the drag-and-drop interface. Although Apatar says that the SugarCRM connector “does not require coding skills,” we find it hard to believe. It is rarely a (successful) case when a system can “be deployed by almost any business user.” Almost, certainly, being the key word here.

Solving Data Management Challenges

With numerous challenges in the area of client data management, the new tool aims to solve some of them. Extracting and normalizing customer data from multiple sources is the biggest challenge with client data management, according to the Aberdeen Group as cited by Apatar. With the new SugarCRM connector, Apatar enables users to link customer information between databases (such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL and Oracle), files (Microsoft Excel, CSV and TXT), applications (Salesforce CRM) and some of Web 2.0 destinations (Flickr, Amazon S3, RSS feeds). Other features include connectivity to Microsoft Access, GoldMine, DB2, Sybase, PostgreSQL, dBase, EnterpriseDB, Vertica Analytic Database, vTiger, InnoDB, Openbravo ERP, Compiere ERP, XML, ATOM, HTTP queries, POP3, LDAP, FTP, WebDav, Autodesk Buzzsaw, any JDBC data sources -- looks like a gigantic mass of things to connect to! Oh, there’s also connectivity to StrikeIron, CDYNE and the ever-famous “and more.” Apatar also offers a job scheduler and synchronization to automate the data integration processes, while being platform-agnostic -- meaning it can run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Supported SugarCRM editions include version 5.0.0 or earlier for Windows, and version 5.1 or earlier for Linux/Mac OS. Check out this SugarCRM connector Web demo to learn more.

Taking on the Zimbra Challenge

“The SugarCRM connector will help us exchange data between our existing CRM system and Zimbra open source messenger, saving thousands of dollars and reducing implementation time,” said Mark Gordon of Sonoma Creative, a full-service Web development company. Zimbra and SugarCRM integration is also in the plans for Apatar. Zimbra is a Yahoo!-based collaboration suite offered as a hosted solution. While Zimbra is currently only available to educational institutions, Yahoo!, apparently, plans to test the waters within the CRM field.

Getting the Sugary Open Source Bliss

Both the SugarCRM system and Apatar’s new connector are distributed as open source products -- which can be both questionable and beneficial to organizations. The “free” part of the offering would probably be the most eye-catching for businesses looking to cut their IT budgets. Apatar boldly states that “in today’s enterprises, most data integration projects never get built.” That would be due to the low ROI on small projects, as they say, and potentially high costs of implementing a solution based on a proprietary code. “The open source community provides business users with an option to avoid a vendor lock-in,” noted Renat Khasanshyn, CEO and founder of Apatar. What he forgets to mention is the fact that to reach the fullest potential of an open-source application, organizations are often required to build additional plug-ins and extensions that fit their particular business models and objectives. The total cost of ownership doesn’t (start) and stop at the fact that customers are getting a free environment to play with. Although, they may not need to pay license fees for the software and integration efforts, we all know it is not entirely free to use open source. Moreover, pure open source, as we reported earlier, may not even be a viable business model -- a little factoid for Apatar and the likes (as well as their customers) to consider.