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OpenERP Makes Open Source Business Software Work

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Posted October 20, 2010 By Paul Shread     Feedback

OpenERP is a rarity among open source companies, offering paying and free users the same software and charging only for hosting and services. And the company is profitable too.

OpenERP seems to be a rarity among open source business software companies. There are no special enterprise editions — open source and paying customers get the exact same software and features — yet the company has managed to turn a profit on services and hosted solutions.

"Exactly the same software is available for both customers and downloads," OpenERP COO Marc Laporte told eCRMguide. "We don't have an enterprise edition."

The five-year-old Belgian company, which recently opened a U.S. office in San Jose, has assembled a broad open source ERP offering that includes CRM, purchasing, warehouse management, manufacturing, project management, accounting and human resources modules. The modules can be implemented individually, allowing users to gradually build out their ERP systems into a "fully integrated ERP solution," Laporte said.

ERP vendors like SAP offer customers end-to-end solutions, he said, "but most businesses want a short-term solution."

"Our goal is to be as simple as QuickBooks and as complete as SAP," he said.

The open source route has helped the company build its impressive portfolio faster, Laporte said. "We evolve faster because of the open source community and have better quality. If we do something to the software that is a regression, it will be all over Twitter in an hour."

OpenERP has about 100 employees and 900 contributors in its community. The software is downloaded 1,000 times a day, and there are more than 500 community-developed software modules. A 40-country network of partners also helps profitability.

Laporte said the Python-based open source software at the core of its business allows the company to offer services and a SaaSoffering for 40 to 70 percent less than competitors. The SaaS version costs $39 a month per user, while services like migration services, bug fixes and security alerts are offered via a yearly subscription that costs $3,800 for 25 users.

The company this week unveiled the release candidate of OpenERP v6, with a final release planned in December.

Among the new features, OpenERP v6 lets users access either a simplified version of OpenERP or an extended version, so usability can be tailored to individuals.

Each OpenERP application also lets users perform a complete process while staying within a single application. For example, a purchasing manager can create a new supplier, send an order form, check receipt of materials and validate the supplier's bill in a single application.

Other new features include marketing campaign management, tracking of support and services tickets, talent acquisition and manufacturing scrap management.

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