Open Source ERP Applications: They're Real and They're Spectacular

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When asked about the perception that open source ERP applications can't handle the complexity and scale of today's corporate environments, Mitja acknowledges that "the barriers to entry" have been higher for open source providers like his. But, not surprisingly, he says that the collaborative environment in which the products have evolved and near constant feedback Openbravo has received have strengthened Openbravo's products. (It also offers an open source point-of-sale, POS, application). Plus, he adds, if (or when) other ERP providers decide to offer some open source products, Openbravo's business model will already be proven.

As to Openbravo's and other open-source ERP providers' challenges, there are many—from battling skepticism from CIOs and system integrators who don't fully trust "free software," to standing out in a market with thousands of ERP providers such as SAP and Oracle to the legions of smaller players. Openbravo will also be attempting to crack the U.S. market. "You cannot be successful worldwide," Mitja says, "if you are not successful in the U.S."

Of course, open source ERP applications, just like SaaS and other cloud computing-type solutions, are not the answer to all of ERP's woes—those complexity, cost and vendor lock-in issues that can be overwhelming. But open source ERP is now a viable and cost-effective alternative during these unpredictable economic times.

Everybody seems to want change these days. But just how open are you to changing your IT strategy and software-buying habits?

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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