Open-Source Building Blocks Available

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-02-14 Print this article Print

More than just tools that roll new code from scratch, the open-source arsenal also offers enterprise developers a wide range of prebuilt components and application skeletons to be used for future apps.

More than just tools that roll new code from scratch, the open-source arsenal also offers enterprise developers a wide range of prebuilt components and application skeletons that can be used to jump-start an in-house application or a vertical-market solution.

Sophisticated CRM (customer relationship management) suites are among the highlights of what we might call the open-source WMDs (warehouses of modular development).

Click here to read more about open-source development tools.
One such CRM tool is Hipergate, produced by the Spanish company KnowGate SL. A surprisingly comprehensive suite of enterprise CRM application components, Hipergate is offered under a license similar to but slightly more restrictive than the GNU GPL (General Public License).

Not confined to the open-source LAMP platform of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, Perl and/or Python, Hipergate accommodates multiple database back ends, including Oracle Corp.s Oracle and SQL Server from Microsoft Corp.

The server side is available for IBMs OS/400 as well as in versions for Linux and Windows. The suites capabilities include collaborative calendar management and contact management, project tracking, and product sales call-center functions such as order and invoice management.

Closer to home is the team at SugarCRM Inc., in Cupertino, Calif., whose Sugar Suite product line comprises not only Sugar Open Source (distributed under Mozilla Public License 1.1) but also its visible-source superset, Sugar Professional.

Click here to read a review of SugarCRMs Sugar Sales 2.0. Sugar CRMs high-end offering is available in hosted and appliance-configured versions, either of which answers the question of how a commercial open-source company makes money: It gets its foot in the door with an open-source offering that demonstrates high quality, a strong feature set and good product support, then hopes to upsell the more capable and more fully supported product.

In the process, an open-source offering such as SugarCRMs can boost other ventures. Aimed at similar needs, for example, is Vtiger CRM from the India-based consultancy Vtigers revenue comes from systems integration services, but it builds its CRM modules on open-source foundations.

The projects underpinnings include not only Sugars open-source components but also the familiar LAMP stack, with the whole being offered under Mozilla Public License 1.1, just like Sugars code. On top of that foundation, Vtiger adds such enhancements as Microsoft Outlook integration to woo enterprise users.

Offerings such as Hipergate, Sugar Suite and Vtiger CRM should convince even skeptics that open-source enterprise development is not only for the extremes of commodity code at the low end or specialized requirements at the high end. The solid center of workplace applications is in the cross hairs of the open-source movement, and conventional vendors will have to be nimble if they dont want to get caught in the crossfire.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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