Ecometry migration steps beyond HP-UX
Open source community grows opportunity

Proving An Open Future for ERP

Open source software is a good fit for the HP 3000 community member, according to several sources. Applied Technologies founder Brian Edminster plans to open a portal for such solutions next month, aimed at the 3000 site looking to modernize. What's more, complete app suites have emerged and rewritten the rules for software ownership. An expert consulting and support firm for ERP solutions is proving that a full-featured ERP app suite, Openbravo, will work for 3000 customers by 2010.

A software collective launched in the '90s by the University of Navarra which has evolved to Openbravo, S.L., Openbravo is utilized by manufacturing firms around the world. Openbravo is big stuff. So large that it is one of the ten largest projects on the open source repository, until Openbravo outgrew SourceForge. The software, its partners and users have their own Forge running today. HP 3000 support firm the Support Group, inc (tSGi) has put its Entsgo spinoff on track to deploy Openbravo. All the pieces should be ready within nine months, said Entsgo's Engagement Manager Sue Kiezel.

Kiezel and Entsgo are part of the tSGi enterprise that grew up aiding customers of MANMAN, the venerable and stable 3000 ERP app. Entsgo is proving the open source ERP concept this year in segments outside the HP 3000 community. “We’re working on a couple of deals right now that are going to be closing relatively soon,” Kiezel said. “We believe that within six to nine months, the solution will be as robust as MANMAN was at its best.”

Open source solutions can span a wide range of organization, from code forges with revisions and little else to the one-stop feel of a vendor, minus the high costs and long waits. Openbravo is in the latter category, operating with 100 employees and having received more than $18 million in funding. If that doesn't sound much like the Apache and Samba open source experience, then welcome to Open Source 2.0, where subscription fees have replaced software purchases and partner firms join alongside users to develop the software.

Openbravo says the model is "commercial open source business model that eliminates software license fees, providing support, services, and product enhancements via an annual subscription." Entsgo/tSGi business consultant Donnie Poston said the one-stop model makes Openbravo attractive.

“The fact that you have a company that supports it, and you can subscribe to it and verifies it, upgrades it and maintains it — all of that under one company name was enticing to us,” said Poston.

Localization capabilities will be among the last pieces of Openbravo to fall into place, and tSGi president David Floyd says for some HP 3000 owners, the Openbravo solution is ready today. In the meantime, the open source model fits well with HP 3000 strategies.

“In the 3000 community, we’re used to the independence of the open source model,” said Kiezel. “We’re used to tools that are intuitive, and if you look at us, we should be able to embrace open source more than any other community.”

Open source practices turn the enhancement experience upside down for an application. In the traditional model, a single vendor writes software at a significant investment for high profits, then accepts requests for enhancements and repairs. A complex app such as ERP might not even get 10 percent of these requests fulfilled by the average vendor.

The open source community around Openbravo operates like many open source enterprises. Companies create their own enhancements, license them back to the community, and can access bug fixes quickly—all because the ownership is shared and the source code for the app is open.

Entsgo experts such as Kiezel are establishing a trusted advisory resource for Openbravo. Entsgo is a partner to IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, and top-tier ERP vendors, serving small to medium-sized manufacturing and supply chain businesses in Texas and throughout the worldwide manufacturing community.