TechWhale Solutions Preps for 3.0 Beta Program

Erstwhile open source CRM vendorTechWhale Solutions is getting set to launch its beta 3.0 version of BlueWhaleCRM in August, which the company says will significantly leverage AJAX and ATLAS technologies. In preparation, TechWhale has rolled out an interim release, version 2.0, based on the .NET framework.

“This latest release is strictly a maintenance application,” TechWhale Solutions President Alan Ranciato told CRM Buyer. “There is some new functionality — for instance, it adds additional automated workflow functionality into the system — but most of it is cleaning up previous versions.”

The full version of 3.0 will come out in December, he said.

Moving Away From Open Source

TechWhale is just one of many vendors aiming to build a niche in the SMB (small and medium-sized business) market.

It differentiates itself, though, in that it is one of the few companies that started out as an open source application — but quickly changed direction.

The company, which formed in early 2004, shifted to a shared-source version of BlueWhaleCRM shortly after its launch.

This move added credence to rising doubts that open source CRM’s original promise — considered not too long ago to be the next disruptive technology for the industry — had been overhyped.

Finding the Middle Ground

One reason TechWhale decided to move away from open source, Ranciato said, was the surprising lack of support for a .NET open source CRM application in the development community. The company decided to make its source code available on a fee basis.

Now, it has developed a niche as a CRM product that is highly customizable because its code is available — unlike most proprietary systems on the market today.

Other vendors still believe the open source approach will become significant. These include, not surprisingly,SugarCRM, the leading provider of open source CRM. SugarCRM continues to innovate its product in response to ever increasing market demand, it maintains.

For example, SugarCRM has developed a wireless open source CRM product called “Sugar Mobile” that can be deployed as a carrier-branded product by large mobile and cellular companies who want to offer a mobile CRM solution to their customers.

“I don’t know about the future of open source CRM,” said Ranciato. “I am seeing a lot of people move away from it. We come up against SugarCRM quite often, and the take away I get from these encounters is that people want to own their own source code and have it in-house.”

The middle ground view is that open source CRM will never be as significant a development in the industry as the hosted model has become — but that there is a niche for it to fill in meeting the needs of certain companies.

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