Hosting Space Gains ERP Duo

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2005-06-06

A group of smaller, more nimble ERP companies are breaking into the hosting game in an effort to give midsize businesses the same tools that traditionally have been available only to large enterprises.

This week, Mitsui & Co. Inc., in New York, the U.S. subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. Ltd., will announce the launch of a new on-demand company, Mitrix Inc., along with Mitrixs flagship supply chain management software, SCM Live. In addition, OpenMFG LLC, a small enterprise resource planning company that provides an open-source architecture and ERP applications, will announce at midmonth the general source code availability of its report writer and rendering engine, OpenRPT.

OpenMFG will also announce the second major iteration of its ERP suite, the first iteration to incorporate a substantial number of enhancements that come directly from customers and resellers.

"Our thought was building a new package on top of open-source components; we could take a lot of the costs out of the equation and change the dynamics of what is going on in the ERP space," said Ned Lilly, OpenMFGs president and CEO, in Norfolk, Va.

Mitrix, in Irvine, Calif., deployed its SCM Live software at Mitsuis U.S. subsidiary more than two years ago when Mitrix was still a development arm of Mitsui. A 300-year-old Tokyo-based trading company, Mitsui comprises hundreds of smaller businesses.

"The issues faced by Mitsui are exactly those faced by Mitsuis [business units]—they couldnt afford a comprehensive infrastructure, so they needed something that is highly configurable," said Edward Lewis, president and CEO of Mitrix.

Mitsui looked at SCM options from SAP AG, of Walldorf, Germany—the company has three global SAP implementations—but decided it would cost millions of dollars and take years to implement. Mitsui then decided to build its own software in-house.

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SCM Live is engineered to provide internal and external inventory management. It has a real-time planning engine that updates with every new addition to the supply chain and has supplier relationship management and order fulfillment capabilities that support both vendor-managed initiatives and customer orders. The suite also supports forecast management through supply chain planning functionality.

Separately, OpenMFG is doing its part in the software-as-a-service movement by releasing what can be considered commoditized code to the open market.

Last year, the company released its source code to the VAR community for customization and new development and is considering releasing additional code around other commoditized areas, such as general ledger, Lilly said.

The OpenRPT code will be available in binary and source form, running on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

David Fauntleroy, president of Moline Bearing Co., in St. Charles, Ill., said he runs his business on OpenMFGs ERP platform. "To my mind, the package was less expensive to buy because it was open-source," said Fauntleroy. "If I looked at a comparable package, I would have to start talking to the big guys—SAP and Oracle [Corp.]—and I cant afford to spend $25 million on a system. It just wasnt going to happen."

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