For SMBs that are looking for CRM, but don’t have huge budgets, the general release this week of SugarCRM 6 after four months of beta should be good news. Google Android is also in the spotlight this week with the release of App Inventor, which enables everyone to develop apps for Android devices.

SugarCRM v6.0 on General Release

SugarCRM (news, site) is officially out of beta and now on general release. When it was originally released in April -- in beta -- SugarCRM 6 introduced a new user interface that focused on speed, simplicity and interoperability with other web applications and mobile devices.

The company also announced at the time that it had made the primary source code repository for Sugar Community Edition publicly accessible.

But the v6.0 release also comes with dozens of other features in two categories aimed at improving user efficiency. These include:

  • Sales and Reporting: New tools, including enhanced dashboards, to give users better insights into how their enterprise is performing internally, and how their clients are responding to sales initiatives. Sales forecasts analyze targets, trends and how the enterprise is performing in respect of each.
  • Information control: Enhanced information access controls including automatic workflow controls that streamline the flow of information across designated departments and users. Data protection is also enhanced.

It also comes with complete data integration for profiling customers as well as enhanced mobile access for external users.

According to the company, Sugar 6 was developed with the idea that CRM does not have to be complex to deploy or use, nor too expensive for growing companies, so pricing should be well within the range of most SMBs. If you want to find out more you can sign up for a 7-day free trial.

Android Apps for All

There’s been a lot of action recently on the Google Android front and in the mobile apps market in general. However, the release of Google App Inventor, which enables anyone to develop apps for Android devices will enable even the smallest companies the ability to develop personalized apps for themselves.

To use App Inventor, no developers are required as it requires no programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, users visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior.

App Inventor also gives you access to a variety of phone features you can include in your app such as GPS, accelerometers and integration with Web-based services such as Twitter.

With App Inventor, Google may also be able to close the gap between it and Apple iPhone. At the moment Google's Android Market has more than 60,000 applications while the iPhone offers more than 200,000. With this, Android’s number looks set to increase dramatically.

If you want to find out more, and you like your jazz uninterrupted by explanatory commentary, check out the video below.

Microsoft to Preview SMB Servers

Meanwhile at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) this week there was also some good news for SMBs. Microsoft announced that it will release previews of two new versions of its Small Business Server by the end of the summer.

However, the downside is that initially they will be only released in the Pacific Northwest, although it is likely that wider releases will follow soon afterwards.

In a post on the SBS blog earlier this week, Kevin Kean from the SBS team said the two new releases would provide:

an update to the standard edition plus a new server that will be our first to deliver both traditional and cloud computing capabilities for small businesses.”

The first release will be SBS 7, which will provide updated remote access capabilities as well as components that bring the suite up to date with the latest versions of Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2), Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and SharePoint 2010 Foundation.

The second release, called Aurora, is a cheap server that will deliver both traditional and cloud capabilities, including cloud-based automated backup and restore, and the ability to access and organize data via the cloud. Aurora is designed for companies with up to 25 users. Looking for a preview?

Zoho Offers SMBs All-in-One Calendars

Zoho (news, site) has also been busy recently with the release of a Web-based calendar that acts as an all-encompassing digital diary.

With an Outlook plug-in, links to Google Calendar and others via the iCal format, Zoho Calendar can be integrated into other Zoho apps to make it the center of your working world. You can also import from an old calendar you no longer want to use, or subscribe to one that you will still use, to keep your Zoho Calendar regularly updated.


From it, users can send and receive invitations, get reminders and view the calendar on their mobile devices (via the browser) and much more. Events from your various other calendars are displayed in different colors.

The Outlook plug-in adds a toolbar menu option and allows users to sync the content of their Zoho calendar to Outlook, keeping all your information up to date in multiple places. Find out more.