Sugar in the YiPs Sandbox
February 16, 2009 Dan Burger
How do you get your hands on some open source customer relationship management software that’s ready to rock ‘n’ roll on the IBM i? Simple: Take a quick Web trip to the Young i Professionals home page, where you’ll find one of the more popular business-oriented, open source applications: SugarCRM. Visitors can log into the application–as a user or an administrator–and spend some hands-on time with an open source Web application running on the i platform.
The SugarCRM package is part of a new class of open source enterprise applications written for the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack of software. Beta releases for i5/OS became available in August 2007, and general availability was announced in January 2008 as SugarCRM 5.0 came to market. SugarCRM 5.0 featured a custom module builder, an integrated e-mail client, and a multi-tenant architecture for hosted applications. Version 5.1 debuted in May 2008 with smart phone support. (Our Four Hundred Stuff newsletter has extensive coverage of SugarCRM. See the Related Stories section at the end of this report for links to that coverage.)
After playing in the sandbox, if you like the idea of open source software designed for specifically for businesses, you can find the instructions on how to get SugarCRM applications up and running on your box. Not only will you be one of the first–because the gates to the sandbox just opened January 26–but you will be getting familiar with something that coincides with IBM plans to expand SQL opportunities on our favorite platform.
Brian May, one of the coordinators for the Young i Professionals, is a big fan of open source on i.
“I thought it would be a really well received because of the upcoming release of the DB2 storage engine for MySQL,” May says. “Once that becomes generally available, we’ll have the bridge that will make applications like SugarCRM extremely popular among the i community. Right now you can do it, but once you can have that data on a table that looks just like any other table for your other applications, that’s when the gates are going to really open up. It’s going to open up open source.”
The popularity of open source software within the YiPs organization is high, May says. “From what I’ve seen, the young people are very interested in being able to run open source applications. And it’s my opinion that with the economy taking a turn, open source is going to become a more popular option.”
By May’s count, more than 600 visitors have had a look at the SugarCRM app posted on the YiP site. Not bad considering that word of its availability has barely hit the streets.
The sandbox has a second open source app called Moodle, a course management application used to host online classes. Built into the package are features such as schedules, assignments, and grades. It’s on the site because of a special request from a person who knew of the application, but was unable to get it running on the IBM i. May was able to get it running, and so he made it available in the sandbox.
The Moodle teaching app likely came about because the YiPs have a relationship with the IBM Academic Initiative.
“We are in regular contact with the Academic Initiative people about things that they are doing and things that we are doing,” May says. “We are trying to coordinate efforts because our shared goal is bringing young people to the IBM i platform.”
During the month of January, there were 12,500 site visits to http://www.youngiprofessionals.com. Not only does the Website run on an i, it is loaded with open source software. The site is managed by the Joomla content management system. The Wiki section is run on PmWikiPmWiki. The forums are run by phpBB, and the blog is running WordPress on i, but it also includes Pivot, a smaller blogging application because it doesn’t require SQL or any back-end database.
What else is going on with the Young i Professionals?
Well, after a slow start several years ago and almost no momentum, things got going at the 2008 COMMON conference in Nashville. The group is starting to come together and more individuals are willing to get involved and commit time and effort. It has grown more in the past year than any year in the past. YiP members that visit the Website regularly number around 70.
Recruitment is being built around the Academic Initiative program efforts with students and working the crowds at conferences.
The best opportunities to bring people to gain new members include conferences. May and Aaron Bartell will be at the RPG & DB2 Summit April 15 through 17 in Orlando, Florida. “We will have a booth and will be talking to people about who we are and what we are doing,” May says. YiPs has had a booth at COMMON for several years and will once again have its annual meeting at the COMMON conference April 26 through 30 in Reno, Nevada.