Ready for an Attitude Adjustment? Visit YiPs Sandbox and Try webERP
May 26, 2009 Dan Burger
You don’t hear people dismissing open source software as a fad, a farce, or an IT freak of nature so much these days. Open source used to be a topic that enterprise systems administrators would joke about. It’s not so funny, and it’s not so freakish, anymore. And that’s not to say the switch to open source software has been flipped to the ON position. This is an evolutionary process and it has evolved to the point that acceptability is much more widespread than it was even a year ago, let alone three or four years ago.
A week ago, Forester Research released its Enterprise and SMB Software Survey for North America and Europe that was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2008. It showed open source software adopting rates are on the rise and that tight budgets are causing organizations to take a serious look at the cost-cutting benefits. Apparently, they like what they see.
What bearing does this have on the IBM i community? Plenty, if you follow the adventures of the Young i Professionals (YiPs). The YiPs, if you haven’t already heard of them, are an international group of tech pros with interests that are best described as being progressive. Things like open source software, Web programming, and continuing education fuel their thoughts. They tend to be young, but age doesn’t have as much to do with it as energy.
On the YiPs Web site there’s an open source sandbox for applications that can run on IBM i. The latest addition to the sandbox is webERP, an open source Web-based ERP system. The current version 3.10, released in February 2009, is available–as you would expect–as a free download. It has been peer reviewed and tested for stability and consistent behavior. All development is reviewed and the project is led by chartered accountants with business experience in senior management roles.
webERP is developed using the open source PHP Web development language. The application can be configured on any operating system that supports PHP and the system requirements for the code are surprisingly light. Using webERP requires only a Web browser and a PDF reader. Users get graphical screens anywhere that has an Internet connection and data integrity is enhanced by maintaining a centralized database, something that the IBM i users would not live without.
As noted in the Forrester research, reducing costs has become a top priority for many companies, so no-cost applications look good right out of the starting gate. In the case of webERP, the competition among service providers has sharpened the effectiveness of support while holding down costs as well. The availability of the source code allows those with PHP skills to monitor computing processes, customize applications, and improve the software.
No one expects you to abandon your look-before-you-leap sensibilities when considering open source ERP. Enterprises always need a plan and they need to understand potential impacts of new software whether it is open source or not. In other words, put some handles on the current circumstances–admitting they are either good, fair, or poor–and then project future requirements before you reach any decisions.