Microsoft and Salesforce bounce open-source competitors from events

Open source seems to be getting under the skin of proprietary companies like Salesforce and Microsoft.

Silicon Valley Watcher has the scoop on SugarCRM being booted from the San Francisco Marriott hotel during's recent Dreamforce conference, but SugarCRM isn't the only open-source company getting shafted by its proprietary competition.

At last year's EduCause conference, an inside source tells me, Microsoft refused to sponsor the conference unless the conference organizers denied Zimbra the opportunity to take a big, prominent booth at the event.

Two billion-dollar companies fretting about Lilliputian open-source competitors? Surely you jest!

Nope. As SugarCRM CEO John Roberts explains:

"When Marc Benioff found out we were at the Marriott he pressured the hotel to move us out. That's how we ended up here at the St. Regis, and Marriott is paying for it."

The reason SugarCRM might be irking Mr Benioff is that it's growing very fast. "We now have more than four thousand customers, and more than half-a-million users, in 80 languages. That's in just four years."

While Mr Roberts credits Marc Benioff with educating the market about the benefits of software as a service, he says SugarCRM is winning business because there isn't any customer lock-in as there is with Salesforce and its proprietary behavior...."What is the point of Apex? We built SugarCRM in PHP and we use Internet standard technologies. We are open source, our technologies are owned by the Internet. We view ourselves as the Linux of the CRM world."

In other words, perhaps Microsoft, Salesforce, and their ilk do have something to fear from the Zimbras and SugarCRMs of the world. Value wins in a recessionary economy, to the extent that anyone does, and these open-source vendors are providing a heck of a lot of value...for a very low price.

Disclosure: I am an customer of and advisor to SugarCRM and a customer of Zimbra's.