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"It is affordability. And the community is important-you have relatively open and honest debugging and access to a lot of gene pool with common sorts of problems and a fairly open community." he says.

The company sells the open-source CRM package, SugarCRM, and Whitehead wrote the first book about the package. LongReach markets a CRM product, based on SugarCRM called Info@Hand, which is available in both Internet-based and on-premise versions.

The Internet-based version of Info@Hand application is available on a subscription basis through the company's reseller network with typical price of a $125 account fee and a $90 user fee per quarter with a five-user minimum. The purchase option is priced at $250 per user with a two-user minimum. There is also a link to QuickBooks, Info@hand Finance, which cost $950 per server plus $250 a year for support.

All that is considerably cheaper than the price tag for Microsoft CRM.

Whitehead says open source is gaining ground because of word of mouth. "It's not because it's open source. It's because a user has a buddy who got something or is looking at an application. It's just about solutions," he says.

If nothing else, Linux has forced Microsoft to be more responsive, according to Whitehead. "They just dropped significantly the pricing of the on-demand version of CRM. It's held them up to the mark in terms of building a better product."

Robert W. Scott is editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at


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