A hunger for lighter-weight and lower-cost sales and CRM applications has brought great success to SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com, and also lifted the fortunes of open source offerings in the space. Open source ERP has had a harder time breaking out, but here too there are several impressive offerings to choose from. And if you're looking to open source for an enterprise portal, CMS, or Microsoft Exchange substitute, you will not be disappointed.
Commercial open source pioneer SugarCRM is our top choice in CRM. Its trident of offerings – installed, hosted, and a good drop-in appliance – give IT the flexibility it needs, and the easy-to-use Ajax interface enhances user adoption. Users will also appreciate the offline client synchronization; integration with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word is enterprise-grade.
Just as important, a good developer community has taken shape around SugarCRM, making a library of plug-ins and feature enhancements available for the suite – including VoIP integration.
SugarCRM has no shortage of competition from open source rivals Centric CRM, CentraView, and openCRX. The most notable of these is Java-based Centric CRM, which touts team collaboration tools for customer service and salesforce automation, as well as strong online marketing tools forged through a relationship with open source demand generation software vendor LoopFuse. A recent influx of capital from Intel won't hurt it any, either. Long dominated by big guns such as SAP and Oracle/PeopleSoft, ERP has earned a reputation for complexity, and its proximity to the revenue pipeline discourages disruption. As a result, change happens slowly in the ERP market, making it difficult for the bright lights of open source ERP -- Apache OFBiz, Compiere, ERP5, Openbravo, OpenMFG/Postbooks, and TinyERP -- to shine through.
Further, none of these open source solutions yet compares with the breadth of back office functionality, usability, and integration found in today’s SaaS offerings, such as NetSuite.