source : http://www.mbtmag.com/Content.aspx?id=1186
When we looked at the market, we saw thay it was a market that needed solutions that were more affordable, that were more flexible, and that’s what we are aiming at building.
For the better part of the last five years, software firm OpenERP has diligently worked to develop, introduce, offer, and popularize a new model for customer resource management (CRM) and enterprise resource management (ERP) enterprise software. By offering on-demand and on-premise versions of its open source solutions, the San Jose, Calif.-based company has helped put together a community of more than 900 developers who have helped make OpenERP a modular and recyclable software. OpenERP chief operating officer Marc Laporte recently discussed the value of open source enterprise software to manufacturers, the feedback his company as received in regard to the open source model, and whether or not open source software will continue to grow in popularity, in an interview with Manufacturing Business Technology.
MBT: Can you give me a little background on OpenERP and the open source model of enterprise software?
Laporte: The way we view the open source is a way to address some customers that currently cannot afford, or do not buy, ERP solutions, or do not buy business applications they need. And when we look at that, from our discussions with customers and past experience, there are (some) main things that those customers are experiencing. They find the traditional software is too expensive. They often find it is too rigid. You hear a lot of vendors talk about end-to-end process integration. And they are very right. That’s what in the end brings full value to an ERP. But they don’t want to throw away the whole system and build a new one.
When we looked at the market, we saw thay it was a market that needed solutions that were more affordable, that were more flexible, and that’s what we are aiming at building. The fact that we are open source means that there’s no license. And the beauty of it is that the customer will use his or her budget to customize the solution.
We can build applications that can be online or on-site. And it’s the very same application. We believe that this is very important because it gives the choice to the customer. Also, because we open-source, there’s no lock-in. People have a lock-in when they build there system with one vendor.
MBT: When you are talking to some of your customers and potential customers, what is some of the feedback you’ve received about the open source model?
Laporte: We see a fair amount of customers … that have been disappointed with other solutions on the market and want to have more control over their solution, and that’s why they try open source. They have access to the code. If they want to modify the software, because we have an open source model, they will be able to do it. We see a fair amount of companies that are willing to do that.
MBT: All of the developers working on a project like this, what kind of advantages does having that kind of collaboration have for the customer?
The more people that work on a software, the better that software is. I believe that everybody that has worked with a community for a publisher knows it is not always a comfortable task. I can tell you, the community is very demanding on us. They go through our code, they look through it, and there are a lot of debates about how we should do things. This really helps us build high-quality software.
We can’t hide anything. A premier vendor can hide (its) code and people just look at the functionalities. For us, we have people that look deep into our code and look at the way we’ve built it.
MBT: Do you feel the open source model will increase in popularity, given the economic situation many of your customers and potential customers face?
Laporte: I think so, and I can give you of a number of reasons for that. If you look really at what has happened for OpenERP in the last four months, we’ve extended our presence in 17 countries just over the past four months. There is really a lot of momentum going on now. I think there is a huge market opportunity because the market is ready for it. But there will only be a few vendors who will find the right recipe and have enough discipline and quality of execution to make it work.
MBT: Where is the development of this software headed in the short-term and long-term future?
Laporte: It’s all about having good software. If you have good software, people are going to download it, they’re going to enjoy it, and they’re going to turn to you. You’ll do business, and you’ll grow. If you don’t have good software, they’ll download it, they’ll see bad reviews, and they’ll drop it right away.
For more information, visit www.openerp.com .