Unfortunately, it ain't open source!

Story: Openmfg Launches Hybrid Open Source ERP SuiteTotal Replies: 0
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Feb 08, 2006
9:00 AM EDT
Perhaps "OpenMFG" uses some open source software to run its application, but the application itself is not open source.

This quote from OpenMFG is really interesting (see below):

"That’s [open source] a wonderful thing for commodity-level infrastructure tools like operating systems and databases – but we’re not so sure it’s a winning business model for application software."

I disagree. I think Open Source is a winning model for business software applications. I built a manufacturing and computer repair company from nothing and we had a home-grown ERP system which was integrated to a home-grown front-end we used to process our business. It worked well. If I were to do it again (and I might), I would open source my code and try to build a community around it. Many small to mid-sized manufacturing companies have a great deal of IT talent in-house (I had a staff of nine). It would only take a few small companies with a forward-looking attitude about open soruce software to create a powerful solution.

Does anyone know of (or use) a real, community supported, open source ERP project? Anyone who wants to discuss starting one can send me an email (joe at strongarch.com)

From the OpenMFG website (http://www.openmfg.com/about/story4.php):

"The OpenMFG Story: A New Kind of License

OpenMFG – as a software product and a business – incorporates elements of both the open source and proprietary software models. We believe strongly in the value and the power of freely available source code – which is a fundamental underpinning of all software properly referred to as "open source," and so certified by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Another such underpinning, however, is the right to freely redistribute the software – either in source form or in ready-to-run compiled programs. That’s a wonderful thing for commodity-level infrastructure tools like operating systems and databases – but we’re not so sure it’s a winning business model for application software.

We’ve spent a lot of time working on a licensing approach that will encourage people to get involved with OpenMFG – you can download a fully functional demo client for free, and we make the source code available to all customers and partners – but will also protect our interests as a business. OpenMFG is a very sophisticated piece of software; with over 600,000 lines of code, it’s not something anyone will pick up overnight. But if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, you’ll find us a very strong partner. (You can read more about our partner programs for consultants and resellers).

So is the OpenMFG license "open source"? You can read it for yourself here. We don’t think it meets the OSI definition, and we rather expect that they’d agree. But we do think it’s a substantial improvement for the end-user than any conventional software license we’ve seen. It’s certainly a better deal than the much-discussed "Shared Source" initiative from Microsoft (where you have to be a big paying customer to get a peek at the source code); that’s nothing new, as any IT manager who’s ever negotiated a major software purchase will tell you.

At the end of the day, we believe, manufacturers want a robust, scalable, yet affordable solution – a system to manage their business processes today, that they won’t have to throw away in a year’s time. They’d like for the system to pay for itself rather quickly, and continue to earn its keep, year after year. We don’t flatter ourselves that our customers are particularly concerned about the intricacies of software licensing, or what a swell business model OpenMFG has come up with – but we hope this narrative has given you a bit more insight into who we are, and how OpenMFG came to be in this business in the first place."

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