Best of Open Source Software Awards 2009
InfoWorld's 2009 Bossies spotlight today's Top 40 open source products for business and IT prosFollow @infoworld
Both Pentaho and Jaspersoft have streamlined their design tools, helping to bring more minds to the data mining mix with minimal training. Pentaho has even added an Adobe Flash-based dashboard UI that breaks the bonds of static reports, while Jaspersoft has incorporated in-memory analysis for ad hoc queries, performed locally in the browser or pushed back to the server when the client device has resources.
For multidimensional analysis, OLAP, workflow, and ETL, Pentaho's well-guided interfaces and robust engine make it the best choice. Jasper, however, delivers a better overall reporting experience and ready customization. Considering the two are not mutually exclusive in their deployment, you might find it beneficial to look at both for their respective specialties.
That said, Pentaho's dashboards and wizards for report creation are nothing to sneeze at, although some of the more enterprise-worthy features like cluster and repository management require a paid subscription. By the same token, Jaspersoft's professional edition provides solid data mining with drag-and-drop tailoring of analytics.
To be considered beyond departmental-use cases, both Pentaho and Jaspersoft must continue to improve their handling of larger data sets, beef up overall security, and incorporate performance management features: financial/operational performance metrics that help companies align their strategic goals and business planning across their organizations.
Nonetheless, plenty of bells and whistles such as workflow and alerts help round out both of these stellar offerings.
SFA and CRM
SugarCRM takes the Bossie for best open source customer relationship management platform. With tools for salesforce automation (leads, pipeline forecasting, and account management), e-marketing, and online lead capture, as well as customer support and automated service handling, Sugar has the most comprehensive feature set among open source competitors.
The sizable user community behind Sugar brings with it a wealth of connectors to integral business systems and plug-in options to extend functionality. Another big plus: SugarCRM's well-designed user interface and uncomplicated setup and customization help speed up deployments and make new users productive quickly.
SugarCRM's advanced functions -- sales forecasting, order management, report customization, automated alerts, customer self-service portal -- are available only in professional and enterprise editions, as are interfaces that make the application accessible to wireless devices and Microsoft Office. The new SugarCRM 5.5 beta streamlines interfaces for mobile users and adds a collaborative tool. SugarCRM also supports REST Web services, making it easier to integrate the CRM application with legacy systems.
Sugar's e-mail marketing and campaign management tools are challenged by no other open source competitor. Budgeting and response tracking support tactical marketing efforts versus generic carpet-bombing campaigns. And automatic lead routing (also available via the customer portal) employs predefinable forms that help lock in potential leads.
SugarCRM does have open source rivals. The .Net-centric SplendidCRM shares many of the features in SugarCRM 5.2 and does a good job with mobile access. As with SugarCRM, advanced features such as full Outlook integration, the new workflow engine, and reporting require a professional or enterprise license. Concursive continues to carve out a niche market with its combination of basic CRM functionality and social networking, but falls short of a complete CRM solution.
Enterprise resource planning
Open source ERP has come a long way in a short time, and may in fact be the next big growth area for open source in the coming year. Because ERP is anything but one size fits all, specialized verticals will no doubt begin to take root.