Open Source Software for Business: 12 Leading Apps

Posted August 22, 2016 By  Cynthia Harvey
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    Open Source Software for Business
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    Open Source Software for Business: 12 Leading Apps

    These are some of the best ERP, CRM, small business server, project management and business intelligence applications available under an open source license.
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    Apache OFBiz
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    1. Apache OFBiz

    Sponsored by the Apache Foundation, OFBiz (short for "Open for Business") is a full-featured enterprise automation suite that includes capabilities for enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce, content management, pricing and promotion management, fulfillment, supply chain management, manufacturing resource planning and enterprise asset management. It's a good option for budget-conscious organizations or companies that are looking for customized business management software. Extensive documentation is available online, and OFBiz even has its own YouTube channel with plenty of videos that offer an overview and how-to guides. The software is Java-based, so it will run on any operating system that supports the Java SDK, including Windows, OS X, Linux and Unix.

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    SugarCRM
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    2. SugarCRM

    Winner of multiple awards, including having been named a Visionary in Gartner's Magic Quadrant report, SugarCRM is a web-based customer relationship management solution for businesses of all sizes. Well-known users include IBM, Coca-Cola Enterprise, Bitdefender, Men's Wearhouse and others.

    The website primarily promotes the cloud-based versions of the software, which start at $40 per user per month. However, the company also offers a free community edition under an open source license. In order to run the community edition, you will need a Windows, Linux or Mac OS X Web server running PHP and a database like MySQL, DB2, Oracle or Windows SQL Server.

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    Odoo
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    3. Odoo

    Odoo boasts more than 2 million users from companies like Hyundai, Danone, Toyota, Jack in the Box, Jamba Juice and the World Wildlife Fund. Designed to expand with companies as they grow, it's a collection of integrated apps for e-commerce, content management, CRM, invoicing, point of sale, accounting, human resources, inventory, email marketing, timesheets, live chat and much more.

    Interested users can download the source code from GitHub or they can use the paid cloud-based service. It's free for less than fifty users accessing one app, with prices starting at $24 per user per month for additional apps. It's also available for on-premise deployment with a paid enterprise subscription.

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    Zentyal
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    4. Zentyal

    Designed as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, Zentyal is a business mail server that runs on Linux. It's compatible with Exchange and Active Directory, and it can sync with mobile devices. It also incorporates some security features like antivirus, antispam and firewall capabilities, and it supports file sharing and printer management for Windows environments.

    The free, open source version of the software is called the Server Development Edition. It also comes in a cloud version that starts at 1€ per user per month or in a supported on-premises version that is available for purchase through resellers.

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    ClearOS
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    5. ClearOS

    ClearOS calls itself a "next-generation small business server." It incorporates networking, VPN, server capabilities, and enterprise-grade security into a single package with an easy-to-use Web-based interface. It serves a long list of well-known customers, including Google Maps, Cadillac, Samsung, Toyota, Hilton Worldwide, Xerox, Chevrolet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Greenpeace and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

    The ClearOS software is available in several different editions. The Home and Business editions are available with a paid subscription, or you can download the Community edition for free. The company also offers a wide variety of pre-configured hardware appliances with prices ranging from $1,199.00 to $34,832.17. In addition, it also offers paid support packages.

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    Pentaho
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    6. Pentaho

    Owned by the Hitachi Group, Penthaho describes itself as "a comprehensive data integration and business analytics platform." Its customers include Caterpillar, Halliburton, BR and Nasdaq. It allows organizations to integrate big data from a variety of sources, including Hadoop, NoSQL databases, analytic databases and relational databases. It then enables interactive analysis, reporting and visualizations, allowing users to create customized dashboards that suit their unique purposes.

    The open source version of the Pentaho software is available on the Community website. In addition, the company offers a free thirty-day trial of its paid enterprise software, and it offers a variety of paid services like custom visualizations, training, enterprise support, consulting, certification and technical support.

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    Openbravo
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    7. Openbravo

    Openbravo offers business software designed primarily to meet the needs of midsize to large omnichannel retailers. It includes merchandise management, supply chain management, ERP, reporting, ecommerce and mobile capabilities with a focus on providing a seamless shopping experience for customers.

    It's a little difficult to find the open source version of the software on the website, but it is at Code.Openbravo.com. The company also offers paid enterprise and professional versions that can be deployed on premise or in the cloud. The paid versions offer additional modules that are not in the open source version, as well as analytics, application monitoring and support.

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    iDempiere
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    8. iDempiere

    This community-run ERP, CRM and supply chain management solution is a fork of an earlier project called ADempiere, which was itself a fork of Compiere. iDempiere, as it is now called, has adopted OSGi standards and continued development on the ADempiere code. A good option for international organizations, it can handle multiple organizations, multiple languages, multiple currencies and multiple accounting formats. It offers tools for materials management, procurement, sales and marketing, manufacturing management, accounting and more. Because it is Java-based, it can run on Linux, Windows or Mac OS X servers; it also requires a PostgreSQL or Oracle database.

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    Jaspersoft
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    9. Jaspersoft

    Claiming to offer the "world's most widely used business intelligence tools," TIBCO Jaspersoft aims to empower business users to make faster decisions based on actionable insights. According to the company, 94 percent of its users recommend Jaspersoft technology, and 90 percent recommend Jaspersoft support. Its customers include Groupon, Compass Health, CA Technologies, the USDA, Time Warner Cable, General Dynamics and many other companies.

    In addition to the free Community edition, it comes in paid Reporting, Amazon Web Services, Professional and Enterprise versions. It can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud or incorporated inside other applications. Some of the editions also enable mobile access to BI tools.

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    xTuple
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    10. xTuple

    Calling itself the "world's #1 open source ERP," xTuple offers ERP solutions that aim to help businesses grow. Although xTuple software can be used in any industry, it has editions specially tailored to the needs of manufacturers and distributors.

    The open source version of the xTuple software is called PostBooks, and it incorporates accounting, sales, CRM, purchasing, product definition, inventory and distribution and light manufacturing capabilities. The Manufacturing, Distribution and Enterprise editions of the software are available for a fee, and the company offers a variety of paid add-ons. Paid training and professional services are also available.

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    vTiger
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    11. vTiger

    The "all-in-one" CRM solution from vTigerincorporates sales, marketing and customer service functionality and includes contact management, opportunity tracking, sales workflow automation, customer portal, service-level agreements, support cases, project management, quoting and many other capabilities. It's used by more than 100,000 organizations.

    It comes in Sales, Support or Ultimate editions that are hosted in the cloud and start at just $10 per user per month. The free open source version has been downloaded more than 4.5 million times. The company also offers a variety of paid extensions through its marketplace.

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    Project Open
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    12. Project Open

    Downloaded more than one million times, Project-Open offers enterprise-class project management, professional service automation and IT service management capabilities. It has won several awards and has been under development for more than ten years.

    The software comes in four different editions. Community is the free standard version designed to meet the needs of small to midsize business. The paid Professional edition adds features like LDAP integration, financial reports and data warehouse, as well as support. The Enterprise edition adds even more, like audit modules, one-time passwords, and SAP integration, and the extended Edition offers the Enterprise features with additional support.

Open source software for business is -- yes, you guessed it -- big business.

According to Gartner, businesses will likely spend $321 billion on enterprise software in 2016, 4.2 percent more than last year. With business application expenses taking an ever-larger share of their IT budgets, many organizations are looking for ways to cut costs, and that leads many to consider open source software. In fact, a survey conducted by Black Duck Software found that 65 percent of companies were increasing their use of open source software in 2016.

Thanks to their lower licensing costs, many open source applications offer lower total cost of ownership than similar proprietary software. Open source business software also offers other benefits, such as the ability to customize the source code to meet a company's exact needs. In addition, many of the best open source applications offer features that can't be duplicated by closed source applications, and some feel that open source offers better security because of the number of people involved in writing and revising the code. Open source also helps organizations avoid vendor lock-in.

The open source community has created literally hundreds of applications for business users, and as with proprietary software, the quality of this software can vary greatly. For this slideshow, we've selected twelve of the most popular and well-known open source applications for businesses. They come from a variety of categories, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), project management (PM), business intelligence (BI) and business server software. Many of the organizations behind these projects also offer paid support and services for organizations that would like to purchase them.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.



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