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Matt Hartley


In articles past, we have examined both the up-and-coming open source projects to watch, and which open source applications you simply cannot live without. But where does this leave the enterprise user? Often times, the need of the enterprise user differs from that of the home-office/small-office worker.

In this article, I’ll explore viable open source solutions available for today’s enterprise environment.

1. Apache

Because the Internet as we know it wouldn’t be the same without it, Apache web server is critical to many enterprise situations. Designed to provide support for all the latest web-based needs, Apache remains a staple in today’s world, because it can be customized to meet practically any need.

Apache is scalable to meet the needs of the ever-changing server environment, but it does so while making sure common standards are being adhered to. With a solid development team, Apache provides a solid platform from which to build a solid web presence for any enterprise need. (LAMP is also included, but my focus is on Apache)

Compatibility: Linux, Windows, and BSD server platforms.

2. JBoss

A J2EE application platform is designed to make customized applications a reality with minimal headaches. Most recently, JBoss has been taking a more focused approach to web services and applications. JBoss is efficient, effective, and scalable for future development needs as they arise.

It is interoperable on any OS platform and has outstanding paid support and the means for continued growth to meet the needs of today’s enterprise user. JBoss is quickly becoming a common entrance for many businesses into the open source world. Some might point out that this is not widely believed to be an application of sorts. That said, I would suggest that it provides a critical level to applications, therefore I believe it is worth inclusion within this list.

Compatibility: Generally independent (works on any Java-ready platform)

3. HyperOffice

After having looked into a number of alternatives to MS Exchange for truly comparable collaboration for the enterprise user, I found that HyperOffice offered the most bang for the buck. Web based email, shared collaborative calenders, even MS Outlook synchronization.

The HyperOffice “claim to fame” stems from its web-based design. Since there is no software to download, install and maintain — the IT savings add up very quickly. Bundle the PIM (personal information manager) alternative with full-blown hand held support and you have a viable Exchange alternative that will meet the needs of even the most dynamic enterprise environment.

Compatibility: Cross platform/platform independent — all you need is a web browser.

4. SugarCRM

Relationship management is critical to many enterprise operations. In years past, all that was available were various closed source options. Today, this has changed. SugarCRM has changed everything we know about cultivating needed data to meet customer needs.

Easy to customize, simple to keep updated, SugarCRM simply makes sense. Just checking the sheer number of consultants recommending SugarCRM should be proof enough for most people. I have looked into it closely myself and have always felt good about the value offered when coupled with a good support system.

Compatibility: Linux, Windows, and OS X

5. Open Office

You can’t even consider open source applications for the enterprise without looking seriously into a viable office suite to help provide a means to a productive office environment. Open Office offers word processing, a spreadsheet option, even presentation and database software to get the job done.

And if that wasn’t enough, Open Office also provides fantastic mathematical and drawing applications, should a project call for such a thing.

Compatibility: Windows and Linux (OS X users should look into NeoOffice)

6. Evolution

Many people believe that in the enterprise world, Microsoft is king. Fortunately, there are indeed open source applications that will fit the bill. The best of the bunch is known simply as Evolution. This PIM (personal information manager) offers a true-to-life alternative to that of the closed source option know simply as Outlook.

Evolution features junk mail filtering, task and calendering functions, along with full, unfettered support for MS Exchange and Novell Groupwise. Any way you cut it, this blows the doors off of other open source PIM options for daily enterprise operations.

Compatibility: Windows and Linux

7. Firefox

Just like any other kind of user out there, the enterprise user needs access to a safe, secure, and well-maintained web browser. And for my money (or lack there of), I generally feel that Firefox makes the most sense for the following reasons: It is extendable, thanks to Firefox add-ons that grant the browser extra functionality; and Firefox is secure, so there are no ActiveX “gotchas.”

Having said this, I will say that in some cases you may find yourself sacrificing stability for compatibility. In short, Firefox is a must-have as it is compatible cross platform. But there are still some rare instances where it may crash on you, especially with specific Flash content. This said, Firefox will allow you to restore any windows opened during a crash — definitely a plus.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, and OS X

8. Lazy8 Ledger

Accounting is key for any enterprise. After carefully considering all of the options, I’ve come to one viable conclusion for the enterprise user — Lazy8 Ledger. Now, to be clear, this application does require a little polish in order to be effective for larger corporations, but in the end, Lazy8 Ledger can be used effectively by accounting professionals.

One thing to note: this is accounting software for accounting professionals. GNUCash it’s not.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, and OS X

9. OpenPro ERP

Running today’s enterprise takes time, skill, and the right kind of software. One of the common misconceptions out there is that in order to see any level of quality, you must have access to a closed source solution. This is simply not the case.

Enter OpenPro ERP. Designed for just about any ERP (enterprise resource planning) need you can think of, this application will give you the functionality you need today, with the expandability your company will be looking for tomorrow. Overall, OpenPro ERP is rock solid at its core.

Compatibility: Web based, considered to be cross platform or platform independent

10. Pidgin

Even within the enterprise environment, a solid instant messenger is a must. To this end, I feel good recommending an instant messenger known as Pidgin, formally known as Gaim. Supporting multiple protocols, a number of separate user accounts, and offering more instant messenger functionality than an enterprise user could ever want, in almost every way, Pidgin is a must have for in-office, real time communication.

Compatibility: Windows and Linux (OS X users should look into Adium)


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