10 Open Source ERP Options

Paul Ferrill

Updated · Jul 27, 2015

Open source ERP accounts for a tiny portion of the overall ERP market, which is dominated by a handful of commercial products offered by well-known enterprise software vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Sage.

Although there are plenty of open source ERP projects, their combined market share is perhaps as little as 1 or 2 percent. That's despite the many known advantages of open source software, such as the fact that it is usually free to download and can be customized as much as needed.

What accounts for this measly ERP market share? One factor is that most open source ERP projects lack marketing budgets while vendors like Oracle and SAP spend billions of dollars on sales and marketing.

ERP systems are mission-critical applications, and selecting a good one is far from easy. That means most buyers need help with the selection process. But since most open source ERP projects have little or no money to spend on sales and marketing efforts, it is disproportionately hard for them to get shortlisted and eventually selected.

There's also the problem of expertise. Open source projects have been particularly successful in areas where the developers are developing for other developers; in other words when they are building IT tools and infrastructure products like operating systems and Web servers. But few open source developers possess ERP expertise, or have the expertise to know exactly what businesses need.

One way around this problem is for open source ERP projects to commercialize themselves, create an open source core, and then build proprietary extensions to the core code to make a commercial offering that is no longer open source. As a result, some of the free ERP offerings — while powerful — are nowhere near as complete as the commercial products that are built on top of them.

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  • Paul Ferrill
    Paul Ferrill

    Paul Ferrill has been writing for over 15 years about computers and network technology. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering as well as a MS in Electrical Engineering. He is a regular contributor to the computer trade press. He has a specialization in complex data analysis and storage. He has written hundreds of articles and two books for various outlets over the years. His articles have appeared in Enterprise Apps Today and InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, Forbes, and many other publications.

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