Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Monday, April 28, 2008

O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo

I was at the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco last week, I thought about what I saw over the weekend. There seemed to be two Big Ideas at this conference:

1. That applications will move into the cloud/grid/utility, with everybody from Sun, Amazon, and Google to traditional hosting ISPs offering new clout/grid/utility computing solutions.

2. The big players are now moving away from software and software as a service to Platform as a Service. Yahoo, Google,, Amazon, etc. are all opening up their APIs to turn them into platforms where you can come in and build your own applications on top of them.

What I Think (In Case You Cared...)

I don't think we'll ever move back to the days of dumb terminals and centralized applications run by service bureaus. Nevertheless, I was very excited by what I saw, because by making available both the hardware infrastructure and their platform APIs, the major vendors have just given us even more tools for building better applications.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Lessons - What I've Learned from Open Source

It's been four years since I started working with open source software and started on the journey to create opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM. Sometimes I look back and think about all the things that have happened, and what I've learned from the open source experience, which is a lot, but a few things stand out:

It's All About Great Software

When you give away the code, there's nothing left to hide. People can -- and will -- judge every aspect of your software: stability, ease of use, code quality, even architecture. Because of this, open source software tends to stand much more on merits. This is why you often will see new open source projects leapfrog past projects with big-name backers or lots of hype.

There is Only One Community

It took me three years to figure this one out: when you create open source software, you're not off on an island with a band of followers. You automatically join a greater community that consists of all the other open source projects out there. The quality of your software would depend directly on the open source projects you incorporate into yours, and your success will depend on the success of the rest of the open source community.

Be Humble

Somebody recently asked me what I would do differently if I could do it all over again. It took me a few seconds before I realized the answer was "Be more humble." If you open your mind up and look at the forum posts, other open source projects, or just about anything else and say "What can I learn from it?" rather than "Why is what I have better?" you can learn a lot from the open source community.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

opentaps Quarterly Update

opentaps 1.0.0 Released

Last week, we officially released opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM version 1.0.0. This version marks a significant step forward for opentaps. Since the release of 0.9 nearly two years ago, opentaps has matured into a full-featured ERP and CRM suite with role-based applications designed for the sales force, customer service, warehouse, purchasing, and finance and accounting departments. We have greatly improved the usability of opentaps since the earlier versions, created a free online documentation site for it, and built a more solid foundation of automated tests that would allow us to deliver a higher quality product going forward.

A Unique Platform

Most importantly, opentaps has grown into a unique and powerful platform that brings together ERP, CRM, business intelligence, and mobile connectivity. This combination of capabilities surpasses that of almost all other commercial or open source ERP software and allows opentaps to play a much more significant role for your organization: Our flexible data model could be used to capture snapshots of practically any business activity or transaction. The synchronization tools in opentaps could bring data from such diverse sources as mobile phones, Blackberries, Outlook, and web-based e-mail and calendars such as Gmail into opentaps. Finally, the analytical tools that help you tie it all together and turn all that data into knowledge.

Together, this means that opentaps could do much more than automate back-office processes, keep accounting records, or take online orders. It could serve as the common data platform and analytical foundation of your entire organization. With opentaps, you could observe all types of activities -- sales calls, orders, shipments -- as they take place, understand their bottom-line impact, and then act upon that knowledge.

Just the Beginning

The 1.0.0 release of opentaps was a significant milestone in our four-year journey to create free and openly available business applications, but it is also the beginning of a new journey to create a whole new kind of application. Much has happened since when we began: Ajax, Web 2.0, Gmail, social networks, service oriented architectures. Many new and exciting open source projects have also appeared on the scene.

For us at opentaps, this means that we must change, sometimes in fundamental ways, to take advantage of these new resources. First and foremost, we want to make opentaps even easier to use. Under the hood, we will also be upgrading our framework to make it easier to deploy, more scalable and flexible, and more technically robust. Last but not least, we want to tap into the open-source business intelligence capabilities to help you make better business decisions. We have already started on this with the new opentaps analytics application, which is designed to help you sell more effectively by profiling your customers' behavior.

This is an exciting time for us, and I hope you will join us for the next leg of our adventure.

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