Is Open Source the Answer to ERP?

When Mark Alperin went looking to replace his aging ERP system in 2006, he found himself in the same place as many CIOs of midsize companies mdash; not feeling terribly sought after by software vendors who prioritize large enterprise accounts, and facing few choices. Alperin serves as COO with CIO responsibilities for Vertex Distribution, a manufacturer and distributor of rivets, screws and other fasteners. He wasn't happy with the two main packages for his industry, from Activant Solutions and Microsoft (neither of which he was using, nor did he want to use).

"I had lots of concern over the consolidation of the industry. I felt locked in to those two guys," recalls Alperin. That lock-in made him nervous, since he was already frustrated by lack of flexibility with his old home-grown ERP system, which was not built around a relational database. Also, customization was a vital need when Vertex acquired other companies or needed to integrate with new customers. "We've grown because of our flexibility," Alperin says. He didn't want to risk that growth.

So Alperin chose to use the Compiere open-source ERP suite, so he wouldn't be subject to a vendor's shifting priorities. "The primary motivation was the ability to control our own destiny," he says.

Alperin shares that desire with plenty of mid-market CIOs, more of whom are now tapping into open-source ERP, for reasons of cost and flexibility.

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