Friday, June 21, 2024

Top 20 Open Source Applications to Cut Business Costs

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In this economy, employees who can save their employers money are highly regarded and will potentially be in line for advancement. Using open source technology is one great way to help your company cut down on costs across the board.

In this article, I’ll share twenty great open source applications that can help save your employer some money.

1) eZ Publish: Rather than paying a small fortune for a decent Web Content Management System, why not look to eZ Publish instead? Designed to work with businesses needing to push out multiple channels of content easily, eZ Publish takes it one step further with one of the best portal/front page management solutions available in the open source space.

2) Talend Open Studio: Managing data is more than mere content management, CRM or working with databases. These days, there is business modeling, graphical development and real-time deployment issues that must be considered within the modern enterprise realm. Even more importantly, there needs to be an effective software suite that allows the end user to roll all of this up into one usable tool. Talend Open Studio is one potential solution that, based on its feature set, might be the perfect fit for a business in need. Data integration, data migration and data synchronization operations are all things addressed by this software suite.

3) KnowledgeTree Document Management System: Despite Google Docs being all the rage for many growing businesses these days, there’s still enough concern over privacy that other businesses are looking into open source alternatives. Note that I’m not talking about Open Office/Libre Office here, but rather a solution that has many of the advantages one might find with the collaborative goodness of Google Docs.

The cleverly named Knowledge Tree provides its users with all of the collaborative tools a company might need, while allowing the enterprise user the freedom to either use their pro version or host it themselves. Some advanced features, however, may not be available in the community edition.

4) WordPress MU: Designed to provide the ultimate blog platform for a multiple user base situation, many companies may find that using WordPress MU is the perfect tool to get enterprise level content creation to become a regular part of the work week.

And thanks to the recent blending of MU (WordPress multiple user) with the main WordPress project, you’ll be seeing the blogging platform updated more frequently now. This sits well with both the functionality and security in running a strong multiple user friendly CMS.

5) Pentaho: When it comes to analyzing business intelligence there is a baffling multitude of options. What’s worse is seeing businesses paying absorbent amounts of money in licensing fees just to run these applications. Stop and consider going with Pentaho instead. It offers integration, analysis and reporting all from one suite, available in an open source package.

6) SugarCRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) is a great tool because in today’s workplace, working through customer relations effectively is more critical than ever. But rather than forking over funds for software that isn’t that great in the first place, why not get the same functionality from an open source alternative like SugarCRM?

And like most open source enterprise software, you can pay as much or as little as you choose. Want to go at it alone? SugarCRM allows for this with a zero-cost download. Want to run with some professional functionality? Again, you can choose a pricing package that meets your companies needs instead of the typical one-price-fits-all kind of approach.

7) Zencart: So many businesses these days are working within the e-commerce space that having the right tools in place is among the most important things to consider. This is why using a product like Zencart makes more sense than going it alone. You may start out paying for the service, only to later run the show yourself with this open source solution.

Again, the freedom of software using the open source approach is very empowering. This is especially true if you want to take something Zencart is doing, make it better and run it on your own terms. Complete with plenty of great add-ons to further extend functionality, Zencart is a great place to start in handling your company’s e-commerce needs.

8) Eucalyptus: Tired of waiting for someone else to run web services the way you need them to work? Fine, take Eucalyptus and make it happen yourself for your own company. You’ll be able to put your company’s software into the “cloud” while maintaining control of how it happens – while not bowing to Google or Microsoft in the process.

9) Zenoss: Systems management doesn’t have to be a private, proprietary affair. No, in fact you can use trusted, controllable open source software from Zenoss instead. The basic idea behind this tool is that you should have one suite of tools to handle systems management, rather than dancing between half a dozen just to do the same job.

10) Asterisk: Using a proprietary solution PBX system to handle communications is becoming terribly inefficient from a cost perspective. Even with the collective cost of support in using open source options, you will end up with a more adaptable setup using a PBX product like Asterisk rather than something proprietary based.

Obviously the ideal setup is having the right support for your Asterisk system in-house, but even if you don’t, you can shop around for the best price if support should become necessary. With proprietary solutions, perhaps not so much.

11) Vicidial: Asterisk is very powerful and makes for a strong PBX product, but there are some fantastic add-ons that can make it even better. Vicidial is one such example. Designed to make predictive calling affordable, Vicidial is nice because it fits nicely into the existing communication structure, rather than trying to layer together a few different expensive proprietary products.

12) Openproj: There are always a variety of open source options for virtually any enterprise application you can think of. Project management software is certainly no exception to this rule. Openproj is one such solution and, despite its recent acquisition from Serena Software, it’s said that Openproj will continue to be made available to all who are looking for a strong project management suite.

13) Openmeetings: It seems that acquisitions are in the air right now, with another open source meeting solutions being bought up by Salesforce. Luckily, Openmeetings is still free from this trend and, unlike DimDim, it’s not tossing their users out like yesterday’s newspaper.

What makes using Openmeetings so exciting is its embrace of other open source solutions like Moodle and SugarCRM. This means that conducting meetings that involve contact info or scheduling can be done easily, thanks to some forward thinking from the developers.

14) MediaWiki: If you’re looking to run a wiki for your company and would like to use the same kind of functionality found with the Wikipedia project, then I ‘d suggest you take a hard look at MediaWiki. Known to be the nuts and bolts behind the super-successful portal Wikipedia, MediaWiki is easily among the best of the open source Wiki solutions available today.

15) LimeSurvey: Simple, yet very powerful and effective is how I would describe the open source LimeSurvey software. It makes creating an open source enabled online survey relatively simple. Rather than fighting with ad-filled, sloppy alternatives, LimeSurvey ensures you’re not potentially infecting your customers with questionable code or malware of some sort.

16) OpenBravo: Said to be among one of the best ERP (enterprise resource planning) software suites available, OpenBravo allows you to dedicate your funding to other mission critical projects and leave the ERP stuff to this solid open source option. This software suite comes complete with built in Integrated Accounting, Sales & CRM, Procurement, Inventory, Production, and Project & Service Management solutions.

17) Ekiga: “Skype for SIP fans” is how I’ve heard Ekiga described by some of its fanbase in recent years. Definitely the strongest Skype alternative I’ve ever used, I also love the fact that it works extremely well when used over a LAN. So you can communicate with others in the office, in addition to using its Skype-like functionality.

18) Dolphin Smart Community Builder: Rather than placing the your social networking needs into the whims of Facebook or Twitter exclusively, consider adding Dolphin Smart Community Builder to your social media strategy. The software is perfect for creating and managing dating sites, social networking portals and other similar niche communities where your company is in complete control from Day One. This is much more than a mere social media tool – it’s a full-on community building software.

19) Compiere Community Edition: Because it never hurts to include more than one ERP suite in a list like this, Compiere Community Edition is a good alternative for any company not interested in using OpenBravo. Despite the push for buying the paid edition(s) of the software, Compiere’s community edition does provide quite a bit of ERP functionality that users need within the enterprise realm.

20) Otrs: Like most concepts in the open source help desk area, it’s safe to say there is never a silver bullet here. But for what it’s worth, I think that Otrs is pretty darned close to being perfect for the needs of most companies. What makes using Otrs so powerful is that this is much more than mere help desk software. It also provides for sales/pre-sales support, billing and internal IT support as well.

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