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Best Open Source Alternatives To Enterprise Apps 348

PeekAB00 writes "With 2009 IT budgets getting chopped down John Perez came up with this list of 25 best alternatives to enterprise applications (e.g DimDim over Webex, SugarCRM instead of Seibel, Zenoss over HP OpenView). John's list is somewhat eclectic. I am curious to hear what other enterprise (let's be frank ... expensive) apps I can replace this year with open source ones. I am particularly interested in back-up and email archiving suggestions."
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Best Open Source Alternatives To Enterprise Apps

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  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:03PM (#26075799) Homepage

    Whatever you've got, consider replacing it with Sphinx [], which is awesome. I'm using it with Rails and the Ultrasphinx plugin and it's been great - doing excerpts (for example, notice the highlighted results from a search for 'combat' []) - was a piece of cake.

    • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:26PM (#26077137) Journal
      I use SOLR [] which is a pre-done container for Lucene [] which you talk to with XML. It works very well too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by knewter ( 62953 )

      I use Sphinx as well on [] and can agree that it's amazing. Also, if you're using UltraSphinx I must suggest you have a look at Thinking Sphinx, it's a better Rails plugin all around though I can't speak to your specific use case. FWIW it also works in Merb.

      I actually just donated some money to Sphinx yesterday, because Andrew Askyanoff (lead dev from Russia) spent some time on Skype with me getting an issue sorted out where Sphinx's BM25 algorithm was a bad algorithm to use on a part

  • AMANDA (Score:2, Informative)

    • How well does Amanda work if you're not using a tape backup system?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by alta ( 1263 )
        Can everyone please give their opinion of Bacula vs Amanda? (The only thing that looks good TO ME about BackupPC is it's data de-duplication) Currently I'm using Retrospect, and it gets the job done, but has flaws and I'm not ready to pay the upgrade price (we originally got a free license) I'm a VERY mixed environment, we have: Win2k3 w/exchange Win2k3 for file/print Centos for: MySQL Apache Pen/VRRP load balancing MailScanner virus/spam gateway Vmware Server (all hosts are linux, guests are mixed) Vmwar
    • Amanda had some problems last time I looked. Bacula isn't TSM by any means but it's actually not bad.

    • by norkakn ( 102380 )

      Why AMANDA over bacula? The lack of native clients makes me scared of AMANDA.

  • SugarCRM is old hat. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:07PM (#26075863) Homepage

    OpenGOO kicks the crap out of SugarCRM when it comes to useability. I was ableto switch an entire office over to it with a crapload of buy-in by the secretaries and other non techie users simply because of how easy it is to use. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I've only played with OpenGoo on my test server as a single user so far but it impressed me with the speed and ease of use. I expected a word processor through a browser to be slow but it's damn snappy. The presentation suite looks useful too. I did notice a lack of spreadsheet software in the suite (at least for now) but it has the advantage of being able to install on your own server, and therefor keeping Google's greasy paws out of your data. It seemed stable enough too, perhaps I was expecting an early

    • by jmertic ( 544942 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:28PM (#26076209) Homepage Journal

      SugarCRM and OpenGoo are entirely different beasts; OpenGoo is Google Apps you can install on your own hardward; while SugarCRM is designed for Sales Force Automation, as well as a platform for design business applications.

      That said, SugarCRM is a great platform for building business web applications on to replace aging VB, Foxpro, and other legacy database applications, that can be designed with a point and click interface and extended easily with PHP. I think most of the applications I've done for my previous SMB employer in the past I could have built on SugarCRM is half of the time and with more features.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rho ( 6063 ) []

      Not Found
      The requested URL /en_us/index.php was not found on this server.
      Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
      Apache/2.2.10 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.10 OpenSSL/0.9.8i DAV/2 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ Server at Port 80

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:10PM (#26075907)

    That's what the TFA says.

    Strangely they include stuff like vBulletin, which, while open source software, is not free software. Neither beer nor speech.

    I wonder how anything with a non-zero pricetag can be more cost-effective than something that costs nothing.

    They should have mentioned phpBB instead of vBulletin.

    • by blhack ( 921171 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:31PM (#26076261)

      I don't know about now...but I used to monitor bugtraq and it scared me into never, EVER using phpBB.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      > I wonder how anything with a non-zero pricetag can be more cost-effective than something that costs nothing

      Training and support, for starters. You're pretty much on your own on these 2 things when it comes to so called "free" software, and the TCO ends up being more expensive than a paid application.
      • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:25PM (#26078153) Homepage

        You're pretty much on your own on these 2 things when it comes to so called "free" software, and the TCO ends up being more expensive than a paid application.

        That is not true generally, although it can be if you really go out of your way to implement something badly.

        It's a MS talking point and it conveniently overlooks that most of the time with proprietary software you're paying for a steep license fee AND pay for support or a support contract separately. We use majority OSS here and the TCO blows away proprietary alternatives.

        If we need support on an OSS choice we choose to purchase it, so far we haven't needed any. The other bogus argument frequently raised is that there's a productivity hit on time you spend researching solutions for OSS issues. That's another one that never happens in reality and also ignores the hours proprietary admins spend pouring over knowledge base searches.

        Most for profit companies are squeezing their workforce so hard for profits these days that service in many companies is worse than what you get from OSS.

        • It's a MS talking point and it conveniently overlooks that most of the time with proprietary software you're paying for a steep license fee AND pay for support or a support contract separately.

          Something the Dijkstra noted and is worth repeating. When people say you need to pay for an application and support. You are often saying "You are paying for an application that likely does not work as described in some way and us to come fix it".

          This isn't maintenance in the classic sense. There is little in the w

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As someone who maintains several large forums on nearly all of the major forum software I'd stay away from phpbb... it's got a lot of security issues and the administration features are really lacking when compared to the other players.

      If you're using it on a intranet server for business collaboration then it'd be fine but as far as putting it on the web, I'd avoid it. I actually just migrated the two phpbb forums I had to vB.

      SMF is the other major open source contender and it does somethings better a
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TypoNAM ( 695420 )
        Note that SMF (Simple Machines Forum) isn't technically free open source software either. See their license for details: [].

        So they could easily do the same thing and go commercial and non-freely available too without any rights for anybody to fork it later on. Hence why I'm not interested in using their forum for any serious site.
    • by Jonner ( 189691 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:56PM (#26077647)

      Typically, the Slashdot summary gets it wrong. The article is called "The 25 Best Alternatives To Your Enterprise Applications & Functions" and describes the list as "some of the most cost effective applications on the market that can easily replace some of your more expensive Enterprise solutions and functions." However, the article confusingly has an Open Source logo prominently displayed and doesn't very well distinguish between Open Source, free of cost, and low cost alternatives.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:10PM (#26075909)


  • Database Sofware (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andr T. ( 1006215 ) <andretaff@gmai l . c om> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:12PM (#26075933)
    Why only MySQL? PostgreSQL is a big competitor.
    • by AndrewNeo ( 979708 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:22PM (#26076107) Homepage
      Because nobody wants a LAPP stack, that just sounds silly.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'd also argue for FreeBSD over Linux.

        Everyone likes a good FAPP stack.

      • by norkakn ( 102380 )

        But you could always LARP. People seem to like that for some ungodly reason.

      • Actaully... (Score:3, Funny)

        by mengel ( 13619 )

        A LAPP stack sounds kind of cool... Folks could call themselves LAPP-landers.

        Of course, like LAMP as an acronym, it still suffers from the potential disagreement about what the last P stands for (Perl, PHP, Python, ...) (note preceding list is in alphabetical order and implies no stated preference :-))

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        No but a LAPP dance isn't all that bad...
  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:13PM (#26075939)

    I wish someone had told me that sooner.

    I was led to believe I had to install Linux *first* before I could use OpenOffice. Now that makes me wonder what other free alternatives exist for common applications - like PowerPoint. Why waste money buying expensive software when I can just use zero-cost alternatives?

  • "MySQL - The best and most cost effective choice for a free SQL/Database environment that needs to be hosted in the cloud."
    Hosted in a CLOUD!!!!
    Hey MySQL is actually a good choice for a lot of uses but then so is Postgres. I have not done much with FireBird.
    And for Content managment they left out Drupal and Zope.
    And just putting Linux down for the server... Grrr...
    What kind of server? Yes as a server OS a flavor of Linux is a good choice but some are better then other.
    I wouldn't pick say Fedora for a server

    • The way firebird works is really good for standalone apps. Or disconnected client storage. It works well under windows (embeddable), and is a breeze with Castle's ActiveRecord (NHibernate based). I also like postgres a lot. I'm more inclined to like firebird for desktop applications that need storage, but sqlite works well in that space as well.

      Firebird also works well for applications where you want to archive your entire database, and have separate db's that are similar to eachother. However, I wo
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        I really like CentOS for servers. YUM is very easy to use. Of course when it comes to servers I am a command line or web interface kind of guy. I never run X on a server. I use OpenSuSE at work because our sysadmin likes it.
        Solaris really interests me now. ZFS seems like the ideal file system for a NAS, It runs Postgres, MySQL, Apache, and Samba so I do find it an interesting option.
        The lack of hardware support isn't a big issue for a server so I think it could be a good choice.

  • by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:18PM (#26076021) Homepage

    Uhhh, a lot of the solutions mentioned in TFA are not open source, but they are cheaper than their more expensive competition. i.e. Basecamp, dimdim, etc. are not open source..

    OTOH, SugarCRM, asterisk, open office are open source, free in both senses.

    Anyway, an interesting list...

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:18PM (#26076025) Homepage Journal

    If you're looking to back up Unix, Mac, and Windows systems, then check out Bacula:

    I've got this running on 7 systems at work. Some use tapes, while others back up to a RAID array. It is fast, stable, and robust. It does not rely on Samba, NFS, or any other services. It has its own file and storage daemons. It will also do VSS backups of Windows clients, allowing open files to be backed up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lymond01 ( 314120 )

      It has a little friend (I'd say brother, but they aren't in any way related) called Backuppc which does disk-to-disk backups. It won't natively back up open Windows files, so database dumps or VSS scripting is needed.

      It does, however, do pooling (industry calls it deduplication). I have the equivalent of 9 TB of backups (2 months of weekly fulls and daily incrementals) stored on less than one TB of space. The actual amount of raw data being backed is about 1.5 TB: 558 GB compressed and 188 GB uncompresse

  • Check the costs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:19PM (#26076053) Journal

    We are migrating a whole bunch of sites away from eRoom because it's so expensive. (I didn't know it was open source, but the guy who brought it into our enterprise is a huge proponent of open source. He has rapidly lost interest in it over the past 12 months, mainly because it was a headache to administer and an embarrassment in a business sense because of the costs.)

    Open source or not, I don't particularly care; I'm interested in doing the best thing for the business. In this case, eRoom is so expensive as to be unjustifiable, and we're realizing substantial cost savings by migrating to a closed source solution.

    Bottom line: eRoom may (or may not) be a good technical solution, but I'm amused by seeing it in an article about using open source alternatives to save money.

    • Why would Eroom be more expensive than the closed-source software?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kiwimate ( 458274 )

        {Glib answer #1} Because it's owned by Documentum.
        {Glib answer #2, but also serious} Why wouldn't it be? Just because it's open source doesn't automatically make it cheap/free.

    • "We are migrating a whole bunch of sites away from eRoom because it's so expensive .. [and an embarrassment in a business sense because of the costs]

      Expensive, how so, licenses, maintenance, down time, explain Spock ?

      [we're realizing substantial cost savings by migrating to a closed source solution.]"

      What 'closed source solution did your company choose, who did the choosing, how is this solution saving your costs?

      "I didn't know it was open source .. but the guy who brought it into our enterpri
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:20PM (#26076067)

    Seems like it was a stretch. Community and forum software as "enterprise"? Uh, no. I desperately need an open source alternative to Exchange/Outlook and point of sale software for my business.

    • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:39PM (#26076391) Journal

      Take a look at Zimbra. They have a free version and a licensed (read: supported) version, and because the client is written in AJAX it'll work in most every modern browser. They also have connectors for Outlook and Evolution, and I think Thunderbird, if you'd rather not use a web client.

      Zimbra is so good, I'm shocked it wasn't on his list. The one caveat is it's owned by Yahoo!, so if they either go away (doesn't seem likely) or do get bought out by Microsoft (also doesn't seem likely at this time), the support for it may disappear. But then, it's open source, it'll never really die, will it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimicus ( 737525 )

        Zimbra is so good, I'm shocked it wasn't on his list. The one caveat is it's owned by Yahoo!, so if they either go away (doesn't seem likely) or do get bought out by Microsoft (also doesn't seem likely at this time), the support for it may disappear. But then, it's open source, it'll never really die, will it?

        Ah. Funny you should say that.

        I looked into Zimbra and actually, it's not as simple as that. It's licensed under a modified MPL, not GPL, with a very heavy trademark protection stance - you can't reb

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      True open source exchange replacement ain't easiest to find.

      eGroupware 1.6.x & Thunderbird (boosted with Lightning calendar and Funambol mozilla plugin to do SyncML on contacts & calendar) & SyncML capable mobile phones is what we are using quite successfully.

      Zarafa & Zimbra & Scalix are alternatives too IF you are ready to pay for advanced options.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I haven't used it yet, but Citadel is often touted as the piece you're looking for.

    • In my experience, that is because there *is* no alternative to the Exchange/Outlook ecosystem. It sucks....I spent a lot of time looking for alternatives some time back. There is absolutely nothing out there that fully replicates the functionality of Exchange and Outlook as a mail and information management system.

      There are lots of mail servers, lots of Outlook connectors (that you usually have to pay for), lots of half-attempts that get most of it right, but I never found anything that did the total p
  • by curmudgeon99 ( 1040054 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:25PM (#26076145)
    [This may be tangential to Enterprise Apps.]

    If you're developing an Enterprise App in Java, for example, you often end up with some requirement to add reporting to the system. There are several approaches and all of them come with costs and pain. Having been the proud owner of several batches of these requirements, I have experience to offer a relevant point of view. To wit:

    You need to write a custom meta-data-driven reporting system:

    • You can write your own. That means you handle everything from the dynamic queries to the data formatting, paging, column-click sorting, etc have fun.
    • You can choose that expensive, bloated behemoth Crystal Reports, that runs like a pig and is proprietary and sucks uniformly.
    • You can choose that expensive, slow, complex to build, ball-of-pus called COGNOS, and pay for the COGNOS consultant that comes along with it.
    • You can use that free, open source Java framework called BIRT, that does have its complexities but in fact is pretty easy to use and interact with.
  • [] is the right one.

  • replace Blackboard [] with Moodle []. When I was first starting to learn php, found moodle really easy to customize, in addition to just being great running on default. Nothing that NEEDS to be configured much to get started any more than Blackboard. Blackboard does provide hosting, but at an outrageous rate that is not really a 'hosting' price. On the other hand I have gotten many more teachers to use the Blackboard system just telling them how much the district spends per year just to have the service available
    • My university uses a proprietary LMS, while the Math department in particular uses Moodle.
      I think Moodle is fine and all, especially for being GPL, but I can't for the life of me figure out why those math guys don't use the superior product they have at their disposal.

    • Ok maybe I should have said that I created this page in 2006 after a friend working with it explained me what Siebel is!
  • I've often wondered if Glassfish app server and OpenMQ messaging are viable alternatives (in realibility, performance and features) to IBM's Websphere and Websphere MQ. That would save a bunch of money right there, but it's got to be a huge battle switching an existing IBM system (and add-ons to that system) over to the open source alternatives.
  • our small business uses Quickbooks for accounting.

    I'm not sure whether I hate Quickbooks or Intuit (the vendor) more.

    Is there a decent open source business accounting package that our accountant can deal with?

    We are using it for invoicing, accounts receivable, check register, etc. Nothing fancy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Try xTuple.... Has a lot of the same user-friendliness as Quickbooks - but doesn't lack features like some other accounting/sales/CRM/inventory systems.

      It's enterprise-class and you can buy support from the vendor.
  • by josmar52789 ( 1152461 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:49PM (#26076549) Journal
    OpenOffice instead of MS Office

    7-zip instead of WinZip

    Alfresco for document management and workflow

    Zimbra (or Google Apps) instead of Exchange

    Firefox instead of IE (yeah, you'll save money by not having to remove all the magically installing spyware)

    MySQL or PostgreSQL instead of MSSQL (come on people, open source is about choice - use whatever open source dbms you want and quit fussing!)

    xTuple instead of Quickbooks (great enterprise-class accounting/sales/CRM/inventory software that can truly rival the "polished quality" of Quickbooks with pretty much the same features)
  • Microsoft Project (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:52PM (#26076605)
    Does any one know of a good alternative to Microsoft Project? I am working on a small (academic) practicum project with a constraint that no money is to be spent on acquiring software. I tried OpenProject [] but that seems to have quite a few rough edges. Any other alternatives?
  • "Least-Bad Alternatives to Enterprise Apps."

    Everything that's mentioned on this list has some Achilles heel--though it's suitable for some purposes it's not an exact replacement for what's mentioned.

    Many of the "geekier" replacements (i.e. Digium which is actually Asterisk) have hidden admin costs. OpenOffice has hidden training costs (and frankly, every non-technical person we've put in front of it hates it--they all want Office 2007.) The ticketing systems are pretty lightweight. SugarCRM is pretty lig

  • by Luyseyal ( 3154 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:02PM (#26076791) Homepage

    I am hoping someone can suggest a replacement for "Hello World" which, according to our engineers, is a critical application for our enterprise.


  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @01:30PM (#26077207)

    We just did an evaluation of tools like Nagios, Munin, Zenoss & Zabbix and chose Zabbix []. It's a little more effort to get going than Zenoss: compile from sources for the free version create your own account, move the files around yourself, etc than Zenoss (RPM install). But once going you're instantly more productive. Zenoss touts their strength as an agentless solution, but in practice I found that I didn't get a single system out of an initial scan of 50 PCs that picked up all the information is was supposed to get, or didn't give me a splat of SNMP errors to boot. Plus you have to block out a day to learn the Zenoss language of zenThis, zenThat, zenTheOther to even begin to understand the product and work out what you want to capture.

    Zabbix by comparison was a loads easier. Edit the client conf file to point back to your server then copy the client agent conf file to the target, and the agent binary, following their instructions (create an account for it on Linux) start it, and you're done on the client side. From the server, login to the web page and follow the instructions for adding a new client and linking it to the appropriate system template. Instantly it starts collecting data and (after a period of time) you can view what it's collecting in graph form. The graphs have a nice zoom feature too: just click, drag and release on the bit you want to expand. I'm not even beginning to do this tool justice, it can do so much more than this. Go see their web site.

    Zenoss looks a bit prettier, but Zabbix blew them away on ease of use once it was up and running. Oh, and Zabbix can do agent-less too using SNMP templates for things like network switches, if that's the way you want to go. Oh (again) be aware that if you have a mix 32bit and 64 of Linux builds (as we do) that you compile the agent binary for the box you're putting it on. They provide pre-built win32 and win64 agents for you.

  • as to the difference between:

    Open Source software
    (free, as in speech)


    Free Software
    (free, as in beer)

    Several of his suggestions are available at no cost - but they are NOT open source.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @02:40PM (#26078441) Journal

    I keep hearing about 'alternatives to enterprise software' and invariably the same mistake pops up over and over: Alternatives to enterprise software are non-enterprise software!

    Seems pretty obvious, right? Let's look at what is commonly meant by "enterprise," at least by those who live in that world.

    I want software that has been thoroughly documented, tested, and proven. It NEEDS a decently long track record! It NEEDS a formal support mechanism behind it.

    If I buy something like backup software (with a support contract of course), The vendor has to be able to tell me, "It will work _this_ way." Not "it should..." or "we thought it would..." But hey, bugs happen, right? When I discover a bug that affects my enterprise, I have to be able to go to the vendor and say "fix this" and have it done. When something breaks in the middle of the night, I need to be able to get definitive technical support within a pre-specified time frame.

    Enterprise software is only marginally about the compiled code you get on a CD. It's primarily about support, robustness, and guarantees of quality. It's about strict patch release management, and conservative changes.

    If you want to run (say) Amanda instead of NetBackup, that's fine--it's a decent piece of software as far as I've seen; but understand that by itself it's not an enterprise tool. The support mechanism around it is what makes it enterprise software (or not).

    It's a simple cost analysis--how much will your company lose if software "x" dies, and how much of an increased risk is there in using freeware vs. buying a commercial product from a given vendor?

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky