Zoho Gains Single Sign-on Across Entire Suite

Zoho has added single sign-on support for its CRM (customer relationship management) application, a move that provides the capability across its entire suite of roughly 20 programs and sets the stage for tighter integration between the modules.

Users previously had to log into the Zoho CRM application separately from the rest of the suite, said Zoho, which competes with the likes of Google Apps.

The vendor has already integrated its e-mail system with Zoho CRM, according to a FAQ about the SSO transition. Later the vendor plans to integrate it with applications like Zoho Meeting and Zoho Docs.

Zoho CRM is available in a free version for up to three users, a midtier offering for US$12 per user per month, and an enterprise edition that costs $25 per user per month.

While much smaller overall than Google, Zoho claims it has made some strides in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications arena. A company official said Tuesday that about 1.5 million people are using its software, but he could not say how many are actually paying customers.

However, the company has landed major distribution partnerships, including with Swisscom and Chinese online distributor Baihui.

Still, Zoho has received some harsh criticism from some observers and users, who characterize its JavaScript-heavy applications as too lightweight or clunky.

"I am sure that some of you out there have had the unfortunate opportunity to work with Microsoft Access," blogger Ted Dziuba wrote in a 2007 post about Zoho's database offering. "Believe me when I tell you that if Access made you sigh from time to time, Zoho DB will make you want to paint the walls with your brains."

But features like single sign-on across the suite, as well as recently announced tools like CloudSQL, which enables developers to link Zoho data with other applications through the familiar SQL language, could nonetheless have appeal for IT shops investigating the use of SaaS.

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