A 2011 Gartner survey found that more than half of all enterprises surveyed had adopted some open source software. However, many businesses also need professional support and related services to make open source software viable for their organizations. Commercial open source software vendors fill in the gap for these businesses by providing those additional services while keeping overall costs low.
In addition to low costs, open source software gives businesses the ability to tailor the software to their specific needs. According to Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, "Users are beginning to look at OSS differently — if they can customize the code to make it unique to their company, they have created a competitive advantage." She added, "Although a search for reducing costs by adopting OSS continues to be a major driver, with this survey we see more respondents looking at OSS as having much-greater value than simply getting something for free."
With enterprises in mind, we've updated our list of top commercial open source projects. While home users might be interested in some of this software, the commercial versions are all targeted primarily at business users.
Each of these projects offers at least one version of its software under an open source license, while providing additional software, hardware, support and/or services for a fee. This arrangement allows organizations to receive many of the benefits of open source software, along with the other products and services they need to make the software usable. At the same time, the software developers receive the income they need to continue producing quality software.
As always, if you know of another commercial open source project that you think should be included in our list, please feel free to make a note in the comments section below.
The self-described "leader in open source billing and rating software," jBilling offers an invoicing platform for telecoms and companies that offer subscription-based services. It comes in either a community or an enterprise version, and the company also offers consulting, support and training services. Operating System: OS Independent.
Jaspersoft claims to be "the world's most widely used business intelligence software." It offers enterprise, professional and express editions in addition to the free community edition. The website above relates primarily to the commercial versions, but you can find out more about the open source tools at JasperForge.org. Operating System: OS Independent.
This project goes by two different names: Palo BI is the open-source version and Jedox is the commercial version. Both include tools for planning, analytics and reporting, as well as plug-ins that extend the capabilities of Microsoft Excel. Operating System: OS Independent.
Although it pays homage to its "open source heritage," the main Pentaho site is all about the commercial version of its business analytics and data integration tools. However, you can still find the open source version at the Pentaho Community Wiki. The full suite includes tools for ETL, OLAP analysis, metadata, data mining, reporting, dashboards and a platform for building your own solutions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Web-based OpenReports supports a wide variety of reporting engines, SQL-based reports, multiple parameters and flexible scheduling. The paid professional version adds a reporting dashboard, alerts, conditional report scheduling and report statistics. Operating System: OS Independent.
Rapid-I, the company behind Rapid Miner and sister projects Rapid Analytics and Radoop, claims that 38 percent of all analysts use its open source solutions. Data mining solution RapidMiner has won numerous awards and is used by thousands of organizations in more than 40 countries. It comes in three different supported enterprise versions, as well as the free community version. Operating System: OS Independent.
Users of this BPM solution include Directv, Trane, the governments of France and the Canary Islands, and Konica Minolta. In addition to the open source version, it comes in teamwork, efficiency and performance subscription packs. Operating System: OS Independent.
Used by Toyota, Lenovo, the University of Melbourne and many other organizations, ProcessMaker BPM promises to help users "radically reduce paperwork, use resources more efficiently and improve business outcomes." You can deploy the open source and enterprise editions on site or use ProcessMaker in the cloud. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Now owned by Citrix, Cloud.com is an open source platform that allows enterprises or service providers to build public or private cloud infrastructure. The company also offers a supported enterprise version. Operating System: Linux.
Currently powering more than 25,000 private or hybrid clouds, Eucalyptus counts 40 percent of Fortune 500 firms as customers and boasts that it is "the world's most widely deployed cloud computing software platform for on-premise (private) Infrastructure as a Service clouds." Note that the link above will take you to the commercial version of the software; you can find the community version (and a whole lot of information about cloud computing in general) at Open.Eucalyptus.com. Operating System: Linux.
This open source cloud management software offers auto-scaling, disaster recovery and server management capabilities. It's used by more than 6,000 companies, including Samsung, the Walt Disney Company and Accenture. It works with both public and private clouds, and it's also available as a hosted service. Operating System: Linux.
According to a Forrester study, Alfresco Enterprise pays for itself within ten months. It includes Web content management, document management, records management, collaboration and a platform for building your own Java-based applications. It's available in both enterprise and community versions or a cloud version. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
The "#1 open source Web content platform for business," DotNetNuke currently runs more than 700,000 sites and boasts more than 7 million downloads. You can download the free community version or purchases the professional or enterprise version, and the site also has a large store with add-ons, themes and other tools to help speed the development of your website. Operating System: Windows.
Named a "leader" in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals, LifeRay provides the platform for nearly half a million websites and enterprise portals, including some for Cisco, T-Mobile, Barclays, AutoZone and even Sesame Street. It has both community and enterprise editions, and Liferay also sells support, training and consultation services. Operating System: OS Independent.
This open source content management system has recently released version 4.5, which offers instant mobile websites and multi-channel publishing. It's used by thousands of organizations, including the U.S. Navy and Texas State University. Magnolia sells both standard and pro enterprise versions of its software, with multiple levels of support available. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
MindTouch creates customer support and help sites, also known as knowledge bases. Its long list of customers features PayPal, Mozilla, HP, Intuit, Fujitsu, Microsoft, The Washington Post and other well-known companies. The "Core" version of the software remains open source, but today the company focuses on the cloud-based version, which is updated every week. Operating System: Windows, Linux.