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Open Source for Enterprise Management? 22

Posted by Cliff
from the free-software-and-big-business dept.
acooks asks: "After a recent talk on Open Source software to a class of MBA students, someone came to me with a huge opportunity to use Open Source to manage business processes. What they want is SAP, but for small to medium sized businesses and at a price that a small business can actually afford. Furthermore, they realised that Open Source isn't going to go away anytime soon and that they might as well try to use it to save costs (If IBM is embracing Linux and SAP & IBM plays nicely, then maybe it's worth finding out more about Linux). The questions that were raised basically boils down to this: Is there Open Source software available to manage a business or some of the business processes? Where do you start looking for something like this? I realised that this isn't something that you can quickly download from SourceForge or Freshmeat, so now I'm asking Slashdot."
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Open Source for Enterprise Management?

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  • GNU Enterpise (Score:4, Informative)

    by seanmeister (156224) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:13PM (#5834906) Homepage
    It's a work in progress, but it's there (link [gnu.org])
  • Compiere (Score:4, Informative)

    by OpieTaylor (144173) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:25PM (#5835027) Homepage
    http://www.compiere.org/ [compiere.org]

    "the most popular Open Source business application - usually among the top 10 of the 60,000+ projects in SourceForge"

    I looked at it a couple years ago for a grad school project, and the documentation was limited. However, now the technical docs look solid, and there's classroom and on-line user training.
  • GNUe and Compiere (Score:5, Informative)

    by hellgate (85557) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:26PM (#5835038)
    AFAIK Compiere (being FOSS itself) still relies on proprietary backends (Oracle); this was meant to change at some point, though.

    http://www.compiere.org/ [compiere.org]

    http://www.gnue.org/ [gnue.org]

    Also check the Kernel Cousin for information:
    http://kt.zork.net/GNUe/index.html [zork.net]

    • Re:GNUe and Compiere (Score:2, Informative)

      by plum001 (569312)
      The Open For Business (OFBiz, http://www.ofbiz.org) project on sourceforge uses open standards and provides a great framework for developing CRM and ERP applications for business. They have a good E-Commerce application and are working on other applications. The project uses an MIT license which is very flexible for businesses to create their own vertical applications or tie into existing legacy systems. Developing and interfacing with CRM/ERP applications for several years, I think OFBiz provides an ex
  • by grunthos (574421)
    Looking for one package that does everything is usually a wild-goose-chase.

    Every business has special needs. See the recent discussion [slashdot.org] right here just a few days ago.

    Compiere [compiere.org] and SQL Ledger [sql-ledger.org] sound promising, though.

  • Compiere? (Score:3, Informative)

    by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nosnhoj.truc)> on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:30PM (#5835073) Homepage
    Not sure if it does everything the poster is looking for. It's more of a financials package (ERP and CRM), but it is targeted at the small to medium business environment the poster asked about. http://www.compiere.org/.

    I personally think only the largest businesses are going to use an all-encompassing customizable framework to base all of their business apps on. Most will use pieces that do one thing well and integrate them. All in one types like SAP let things play together nicely but you duplicate effort that might have been done in a more targeted package, assuming no one wrote a SAP module that does this.

    Just my $.02
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Look at http://www.millnet.se/product_milltime.html [millnet.se]
    and http://www.millnet.se/product_millbill.html [millnet.se]
    The software can run on Linux and is inexpensive.
    The web is only swedish but the software also support english.
  • Good news and bad. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:38PM (#5835154)
    If you are asking what Customer Relationship Management/Enterprise Resource Planning(CRM/ERP) apps can run on Linux then there is good news. First off there is SAP. There is also Oracle and probably a few others as well, I'm not sure about Seibel.

    The bad news is that these applications are prohibitively expensive for Small to Medium Enterprises(SMEs). This becomes a greater problem with the fact that your desire for the application to be Open Source implies that you would prefer free software(wouldn't we all?).

    There are a few Open Source projects that have been started to address this need but, they are very small and unlikely to be really helpful or useful in the near future. CRM/ERP apps are huge cantancerous beasts that require a tremendous amount of development effort. In fact, I'm not sure that development will ever end for this type of software.

    Now, the really bad news is that our good friends at Microsoft have also seen an opportunity for CRM/ERP in the SME area and are making an effort to fill that void. Recent acquisitions including Great Plains, Solomon and Axapta show that they are aggressively moving into this market and the already have a product [microsoft.com] available.

    This new M$ offering will certainly not be free, nor will it be cheap. But, it will be feature rich, powerful and just barely affordable to the SME market. Which all means, further lock-in to the borg.
    • A) Microsoft is irrelevant if they are specificly looking for OS solutions
      B)MS is already admitting that they are pricing themselves out of all but the largest of mid-tier client.
      C)There are at least two OS products in this field that have been linked to quite a bit in this discussion thread.
  • by spRed (28066) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @12:58PM (#5835377)
    The slashdot crowd might not want to hear it, but not every task is suited to OpenSource. Most open source projects are technical in nature, because the people who work on them are techies. No news here.

    There are a number of afforable (< $50 a head a month) online service providers for this stuff. I used to work for one. It is hard to compete with a product that has dozens of man years of engineering time honed by hundred of man years of use and feedback.

    There is some hope that an open source alternative will eventually match the commercial offerings. Many opensource projects just copy features found in closed source products. It takes a long time before the free versions out last and out innovate their monied competition.

    My recomendation to small businesses is pay for one of the existing products, they are good.

    If enough free software folk scratch their itch there will be an open source product worthy of use. But as Linus has said of using bitkeeper vs cvs, it is stupid to hamstring yourself by using an inferior product merely for ideological reasons. Of course, only the end user can decide if it will benefit your business more to use a for-pay versus open source project. And don't forget to check freshmeat every once in a while to see if the balance has changed.
    • It is hard to compete with a product that has dozens of man years of engineering time honed by hundred of man years of use and feedback.

      The horse and buggy had dozens of man-years of engineering time and hundreds of man years of use and feedback, and yet you don't see those on the road very much any more.

      it is stupid to hamstring yourself by using an inferior product

      Indeed. Anyone who would hamstring themselves by using proprietary software, or even worse, an ASP which could go out of business at a
  • Instead of trying to find magical software, why not hire a really good management staff and reward them appropriately? I'd bet the cost is actually lower and doesn't reek of proprietary lock-in, five-year upgrade cycles, added technical support staff, and perpetual confusion over what the system is actually supposed to do.

    I say proprietary lock-in above, because I think the ability of an Open Source project to organize and capture proprietary business processes is debatable. Open Source tends to have an
  • You have vendors, right? You really do have money and are trying to buy something, right? Find out from people who know and who might actually have something to offer, like Red Hat and IBM.

    If the vendors don't already have such products (and I bet they do), if you voice interest they will be more likely to develop them. For example, Red Hat is selling a separate database package based on Postgres. Certainly, they'll want to sell database applications, too (like ERP). At the very least, they'll direct you


  • There was a GNU project that did that, but I think if you know the workings of your company you can easily run a postgresql database and serve business off it. Reporting tools like crystal reports work well with it being an SQL database, and you can use QT on linux to make simple interfaces for most anything.

    Be sure to document everything as you go and restrict permissions for every user, if you go ahead with this, and consider releasing it opensource.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday April 29, 2003 @04:52PM (#5837706) Homepage Journal
    The idea of 'enterprise' systems is rather vague in general. It means different things to different people..

    First define EXACTLY what you need, then look at what's available with a *little* bit of looking..
    (compiere, sql-ledger, gnuenterprise, nola.. ).

    You will find none do what you need, so plan on having someone dedicated for a while to coding the missing component..
  • Ohio Edge CRM [ohioedge.com]

    Unlike Compiere, doesn't require Oracle.

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