Concursive Open Source CRMMove over, Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. Concursive Corp., a small open source software company, is offering free software as a service (SaaS) for up to 100 CRM (customer relationship management) users for up to one year.

Is Concursive commoditizing the SaaS market? Or is the company simply trying to disrupt established players like Salesforce.com, RightNow Technologies and Oracle's Siebel division?

Here are some thoughts.

First, a little background on Concursive. I've tracked the company off and on since around 2006. The company was previously known as Centric CRM, and is pretty well-known within open source circles.

I think Concursive's move represents good news and bad news for SaaS and managed service providers. By offering hosted CRM for free, Concursive can bring more customers into the SaaS market. You can check out the offer at http://www.concursive.com/free100.


 


Now, the potential problem for MSPs and SaaS solutions providers: Concursive is basically going direct to customers. That's not unique. Companies like Salesforce.com, RightNow and NetSuite also promote their SaaS applications directly to customers.


 


But here's the twist: One of Concursive's primary rivals -- SugarCRM -- cooperates and competes with its partners. Several solutions providers now host SugarCRM for their customers, SugarCRM CEO John Roberts has noted to MSPmentor. That approach has helped to accelerate SugarCRM's adoption worldwide.


 


Still, it's hard for small business owners to argue with a free SaaS offer from a reputable company. And Concursive is taking steps to make sure "free" customers make the transition to paid SaaS services. According to a Concursive press release:




"After twelve months, businesses using ConcourseSuite 5.0 under this offer will be given the opportunity to continue the service at low promotional rates -- on the order of half of the rates of competing on-demand CRM offerings.


 


Starting in November of last year, businesses were already able to sign up for a free 5-user account for ConcourseSuite 5.0. To date, nearly 1500 firms have started using ConcourseSuite 5.0 under that previous offer, and Concursive predicts the response to the new 100-user offer will be even greater."


Welcome to the SaaS Price Wars.