Category Archives: Enterprise Applications

Open Source Or Otherwise, Some Problems Remain The Same

When it comes to Enterprise Applications which is commercially dominated by SAP and Oracle, there are several open source solutions being developed. Some of them are trying to be the complete suite of applications like Compiere and the others more best-of-breed point solutions like Coupa.

Just like the CIOs and IT staff face with the dilemma of picking the best-of-breed commercial solutions vs going with generic but wide range solutions, same is applicable for open source as well.

Moving from paper based tracking to any form of automated tracking certainly helps. But for companies trying to go beyond the basics and have well integrated automations from procurement to payment, order (or even a quote) capture to fulfillment, there will be integration challenges to deal with if one were to go with best-of-breed solutions. Infact, one can even imagine a configuration where some of the best-of-breed solutions are commercial while the others are open-source!

In such a scenario, who will be building the integrations for these disparate best-of-breed open source applications? Would it make sense to bring in the big-5/4 there? IMHO, then that would defeat the purpose of trying to use open source with the intention of saving the bottom-line.

In addition, with open-source applications, there is no restriction on the technology components. One team/company can choose to use Ruby-on-Rails, while the other perhaps Python and yet another Java and may be even Perl. So, what a nightmare that would be to integrate these various different technology components into one single harmonious application. Of course, this is true for commercial counter parts as well. However, most commercial software typically goes with the main-stream technology, which currently is either Java or .Net.

There is no denial that the WebServices and the SOA are supposed to address this language/platform problems. However, it is yet to be seen how successful this route is going to be as many earlier attempts at seamless distributed computing (such as CORBA and RMI) never really worked well mainly due to performance. But even with WebServices and SOA, most of the open source enterprise applications are currently at a stage where they need to catchup and implement a lot of functionality and the least focus they have is to ensuring that their application is interoperable with other applications. That is not to say that they are not interested in that, but with limited resources, there is only so much that can be done and that would typically be on the core competency, the product itself and how many features it has as a standalone application.

But who knows, with the commercial applications already betting and leading their way to SOA enabled applications, the open-source counterparts will consider it as a part of the survival strategy than a add-on bolt. I see the same issue with business intelligence also where the main stream commercial applications have some in-built capabilities while the open source counterparts mostly lack them.

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Filed under application integration, Enterprise Applications, open source

GAFYD can cut the IT staff

GAFYD, which stands for Google Apps For Your Domain is pretty cool. It provides the ability to run a bunch of common applications off your own domain. The apps available are email, calendar, chat and webpages. These apps are good enough for most mom-and-pop and even a small size businesses.

GAFYD started in 2006. Initially, there was no choice to create your own domain as part of registering with GAFYD. But now they have that option and they offer it by partnering with enom and godaddy. The good thing with getting your own domain as part of the GAFYD is that they charge only $10/yr and that includes making your information anonymous in the whois so that you don’t get spam. In addition, without registering a domain, you get only up to 25 email accounts (each with 2gb space, similar to gmail). But with domain registration, you get up to 200.

Currently, one missing app in GAFYD is the ability to blog and link it to your own domain. Hopefully this will soon be included.

With the reliable and gmail like excellent user interface for email and similarly reliable web space, there is no need for maintaining these two servers in house. No need for maintaining a backup. So, that’s essentially reducing some of the IT operations inhouse. For $10.0 a year, the standard service is definitely worth it.

Oh, forgot to mention, they also made their Spreadsheet & Docs available as part of GAFYD. Check out the list of apps and more info about them at

http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/users/user_features.html

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Filed under Enterprise Applications, IT

Enterprise Applications and the WAMU Ad

I was just watching the ad about Washington Mutual where a bunch of people in black suits and gray/white hair keep talking about charging for every little service and keep making fun about giving services for free. Though I have no idea how much the CXOs of WAMU make and how the company makes money or if they are charging just the right price for their services, the ad in itself is striking. The fact that all the people who laugh at the idea of making some services free are all gray haired probably indicates the thought process of the older generation and the current generation.

So, I was trying to extrapolate the same idea to my familiar territory, enterprise software applications. Recently I happened to stumble upon an open source procurement application company http://www.coupa.com/aboutus.html which consists of only 4 people with a decent application. Contrast this with companies like Oracle and SAP and the number of people.

So, if you go and tell the VPs and Directors of these large companies that the future of applications software is open source (or companies that are lean and offer much cheaper products), they will probably be as much cynical as those in the WAMU ad.

Doing more research on open source startups and found some books on Open Source as well.

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Filed under Enterprise Applications