It is a tough climate out there in the corporate world, specially in the IT market. Currently, ERP market is dominated by the two giants – SAP and Oracle. These two, between them, really own the majority of the market. But is that how it is going to be in future? For the big guns, probably SAP and Oracle – one of these two – will remain the only viable options. But in the downturn – recession or more appropriately Depression really, things will change.
Whenever, such times come, new things emerge and change the game. I believe the same will happen now as well. Some trends are waiting to happen:
Convergence: Desktop and Online, Laptop and PDA/phone, Fun and Serious… all sorts of convergence frontiers are waiting to happen…. or are happening as we speak! For example, if you look at iPhone and the applications being built for it, you will notice that we are really looking at a device that is perhaps more powerful than a laptop! Ok, the speeds and some connectivity may not be there.. but there are lots of things that will be added soon.. and storage is only becoming cheaper, if anything.
If you look at Google Gears and Zoho, you will know a lot of companies are moving down that path.. though we are still in the infancy of that revolution. However, there is one company, that is building up its product repertoir – Zcubes.com – is at the frontier of that revolution. I have seen at what it offers closely, and it makes Adobe, MSFT look like kid-stuff! I will share more on this work later.. with some more insights
Open Source: Open Source now has been building up as a revolution to a point that it has become very viable at the Enterprise level. IBM has been at the forefront of taking charge of the Open Source area for Enterprise Solutions. But I feel that what we are waiting to see happen is for Open Source ERP to take off as viable alternatives to SAP and Oracle. The last time the recession happened, Open Source ERP was not even around. But this time around, the Open Source ERPs – starting from the one main root – Compiere… have branched out and grown manifolds!
The modules that come along include:
- Warehouse Management
- Order Management
- BI and Performance management
- CRM (including: Sales, Web Store, Service, Customer History etc).
The main players currently are listed below.
Compiere: It has an open source and also licensed versions.
OpenBravo: fully functional, integrated, web-based, open source ERP (see the comparison between OpenBravo and Compiere in the attached file).
Opentaps: It is a full ERP and CRM solution plus mobile connectivity and built-in business intelligence tools.
Adempiere: It comes from the Compiere root and has advanced on. Tryton: It is the new Open Source ERP and comes under the license GPL-3 written in Python and use PostgreSQL as database engine. It brings these functionalities – Accounting, Invoicing, Sale Management, Purchase Management, Analytic Accounting, Inventory Management.
Pentaho – This is the BI Platform in the Open Source avatar. It includes: Enterprise Edition, Reporting, Analysis, Dashboards, Data Integration, Data Mining.
JasperForge This is perhaps the most commonly used BI Platform and it comes with JasperReports, iReport (drag-and-drop WYSIWIG report designer with support for all data sources and custom sources and sub-reports, complex layouts, multiple data sources, and programmable dashboards), JasperServer (BI server that can run stand-alone out-of-the-box or embedded in other applications. Includes report scheduling and distribution and historical report versioning and auditing in a secure repository.), JasperAnalysis, JasperETL (ETL system with 30+ connectors that allows output and input from and to many data sources. Real-time debugging tracks statistics and traces throughout the transformation process with advanced graphical UI.), and JasperSoft (the integrated version for Japser BI)
So, there is a strong case now for the CIOs to move to open source enterprise systems and platforms. Paying license costs and praying that your vendor is not acquired such that its entire structure is changed or even some maiin functionality discontinued – is not a great Risk Mitigation Strategy! At least with open source, since you have have the code itself and can change it the way you want, you can exercise a degree of control that is absent in the paid vendor ERPs.
But in this day and age of post-Enron regulations, there are some concerns, namely Implementation cost, SOX compliance, Support (internal/external), history of the product and expected life. In subsequent posts, we will want to discuss these areas in more detail.. to see how viable Open Source ERP is in this area of compliance.
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