Say “yes ” to open source ERP freedom through community collaboration.
Long before the advent of Facebook, Java developers turned to TheServerside.com for interesting news and community conversations. While browsing there one day back in 2001, I saw a post by David Jones announcing the release of a new version of Apache OFBiz (Open for Business).
I was particularly interested in OFBiz because my previous experience had centered around the implementation of proprietary commerce systems like IBM Websphere Commerce Suite and the other usual proprietary software suspects. My experiences installing these proprietary systems for client organizations, and developing customization for OOTB features, were like horror stories. As an open source framework, OFBiz seemed so much more flexible and empowering than those traditional, more rigid systems like Websphere.
The business requirements we implemented in Websphere using complex Entity and Session EJBs could have been implemented using OFBiz with a much simpler architecture. The simplicity of OFBiz and the open source concept interested me. I wanted to learn more and more about OFBiz.
At this point, I had mastered almost all of the tools and technologies from the major technology houses such as Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, IBM etc. This was fun, but learning these new programming languages and platform frameworks did not seem to help me meet my clients’ needs more effectively.
Say “no” to vendor lock-in and functional limitations.
My clients were using lower-level frameworks to build their business applications or investing in implementing commerce platforms like IBM Websphere or PeopleSoft.
It was very clear to me that my clients got value for their investment only if the software could help their businesses save money, improve efficiency, and simplify complex business processes. The results were what mattered. My clients did not care if the software was built using technology from MS or Sun or IBM.
Community organizing is all about building grassroots support. It’s about identifying the people around you with whom you can create a common, passionate cause. And it’s about ignoring the conventional wisdom of company politics and instead playing the game by very different rules. –Tom Peters
We all used to look to the big vendors for new technology and support for that technology. I have come to learn, however, that when a software product involves its users and its developers together in an open community, the results are far better. When the users and the developers put trust in the community and commit to the same end goals, technology challenges become manageable, and solutions become superior to any that can be built behind closed doors.
Sometimes users may have some differentiator that they don’t want to share with the community. We know from experience, using our HotWax Commerce platform built on top of OFBiz, that we can efficiently and effectively manage the uniqueness of each business while simultaneously sharing the common, more commoditized system elements (think product categories, B2B relationship management, B2C shopping cart, standard receiving process for inventory, etc.) with the community.
When an enterprise puts faith in its implementation partner and the surrounding open source community, with HotWax Commerce and Apache OFBiz, the community will rise up to help the enterprise.
Anil Patel is COO at HotWax Systems as well as an OFBiz project committer, PMC member, and active community contributor. He also studies yoga. Anil will join other HotWax Systems team members and advisors in periodically posting thoughts here related to OFBiz, eCommerce, ERP, and other related topics.