If you read my post 3 Core Business Processes Open Source ERP Must Support you already know that there are at least 402 open source software projects listed as ERP solutions in Sourceforge. You also know what are the core scenarios a real ERP solution should support.
One of Open Source ERP Guru’s main objectives is to provide valuable information for companies looking into ERP solutions in general and open source ERP solutions in particular, and the first thing to do is to narrow the list of 402 down to a more manageable number.
The following is a list of open source ERP solutions that can be called ‘true’ ERP, are open source and (at least partly) freely available:
Compiere– Probably the most commercially successful open source ERP solution on the market today. It’s been around for a few years now (I remember visiting their website a couple of years ago, all the graphics was sketched) and successfully developed a large ecosystem around the product – training,documentation and most important, world-wide partners.They were also able to raise some funding (I think it was 6M$). For any ERP project,establishing a strong,global network of implementation partners is crucial for success.
There are a couple of issues that have to be raised in regards to Compiere and open source – since they started developing their product,they relied solely on Oracle’s database software. Oracle’s database is not open source and is not free. For hardcore open source devotees, if you write an open source software that relies on non open source components, you are not open source.
If we put the philosophical argument aside, the biggest challenge is,if you decides to implement Compiere,additional costs are incurred due to the Oracle license. Luckily for Compiere,Oracle released a free version of its database software – Oracle Express Edition (XE). It’s a lightweight version of Oracle’s commercial database, but you can use it with Compiere to save licensing costs. However, if you are going for a large implementation, I would doubt if you could use the XE edition, meaning you would have to buy an Oracle license.
Another issue with Compiere and open source is that it seems like Compiere lost touch with it’s developers communityand is becoming more and more commercial minded,less community driven. This caused the spin-off project Adempiere. One of the most important differentiators between commercial software and open source software is is community contribution. It seems that Compiere is now a hybrid between open source and commercial product.
Openbravo– One of the most promising open source ERP solutions available today. Its a web-based software(running on top of Tomcat web application server) ,with a global network of partners. Openbravo presence is very strong in Spain and looks to become global ,starting mainly with other European countries. Like other mature open source ERP solutions,they offer paid services – training,custom development and consulting. They are a ‘true’ open source software – all software components are free,they support Postgresql database which is open source,run on various Linux platforms. They seem to have an enthsuastic community around their offering.
Opentaps– Opentaps is built on top of Apache OFBiz– Apache Open For Bussiness framework. Opentaps is a relatively young project,with version 1 recently released, but is built on strong foundations.
Being a young offering has its advantages – modern technologies are incorporated from day 1, where older,more mature solution might find it difficult to integrate new technologies. In Opentaps’ case, the most significant advantage is using service oriented architecture – all functionally in the underling OFBiz framework is implemented using services. This is a very modern approach as to how business software should be built,enabling maximum flexibility for business process integration.
Opentaps is written in Java (as does OFBiz) and runs on all popular database servers,including the most widely used free,open source database – Mysql.
Adempiere– A spin off of Compiere, the vibrant community of Admepiere took it upon itself to release a ‘true’ open source Compiere version. The first thing they did was to add support for an open source database – Postgresql. Then they built a passionate community around the project , offering documentation,how-to guides,consulting services and free add-on software components.
Postbooks– The open source version of Xtuple’s OpenMFG is a C++ project. Because of its origin, it seems to shift away from manufacturing and focus on accounting, probably as a complementary product to OpenMFG. The commercial version(OpenMFG) Xtuple is selling can provide strong financial support to allow further development of the open source version. However, it is sensible to assume that if a software vendors develops two versions of similar software products,it will try to minimize redundant efforts around the same functionality. That means that it is likely that OpenMFG will remain focused on manufacturing while Postbooks will evolve to an accounting oriented solution.
Neogia– Another OFBiz based ERP solution, meaning service-oriented architectures from the grounds up. It still seems to be lacking in support and consulting partners and documentation is limited, some of which is only available in French. It does have a lot of buzz around it,with more than 30 developers currently working on the project.
We will provide detailed analysis and comparison of these solutions in coming posts.
There are other open source ERP solutions out there – ERP5, OpenPro, TinyERP and others. I did not list them with the others because they are not developed under Sourceforge or any other public development platform. For me, that indicates a certain level of ‘closeness’, as opposed to the whole ‘openess’ concept of open source software. That does not mean that these solutions are not open source,nor does it amply that they are not as good as other solutions.