The
Open Source model of which Red Hat is a leading proponent with its Red
Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) platform forms a cost effective and viable
alternative not just as an operating platform but also as the basis for
some key business applications like ERP and CRM. It returns control to
the user. Bugs are more quickly found and fixed. And when users don’t
like how one vendor is serving them, they can choose another without
overhauling their infrastructure. No more technology lock-in. No more
monopolies.

Leading vendors like Oracle and SAP have long supported the use of open
source as a platform for optimising the use of its ERP (Enterprise
Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or, for that
matter, any of its business applications.

The Open Source system simply creates better software, whether its
applications or operating systems. It multiplies one company’s
development capacity many times over. Everyone collaborates and the
best software wins. It’s no coincidence that the rise of Open Source
has closely followed the rise of the Internet. The perfect breeding
ground for collaboration, the Internet moves ideas and code around the
world in an instant. As a result, the Open Source model often builds
higher quality, more secure, more easily integrated software, often at
a vastly accelerated pace and lower cost.

Across the Middle East too, enterprises, whether large or small, are
looking for more value from its IT investments, flexibility to adapt to
new market conditions and the ability to quickly customise or develop
applications to match business needs. In this scenario, having the
right IT systems in place is not just critical for success but also for
operational survival.

While large enterprises and government organisations with complex
requirements are embracing open source software for the liberty it
provides, smaller companies too are increasingly seeking a solid
platform for running business applications like ERP that were
originally developed for large enterprises at costs of tens of millions
of dollars. Open Source based applications provide all the same
elements without the high up-front cost for license and implementation
of traditional ERP software.

Open Source plays several roles when deploying ERP solutions or indeed
any other applications. The user can use traditional ERP software and
run it on Open Source platforms like RHEL or opt for existing ERP
software developed by Open Source vendors or even work with Red Hat’s
JBoss to develop in-house ERP software or customise an existing
application. While Open Source software has many advantages many large
organisations are already running major ERP and CRM solutions from SAP
and Oracle on the RHEL platform. Both vendors have worked extensively
with Red Hat to certify their applications. For others, there are an
increasing number of Open Source ERP and CRM alternatives such as
Compiere, Sugar and Centric that are worthy of consideration. A
complete list of compatible software vendors is available through the
new RHX initiative.

Open Source software, whether you opt for readily available software or
develop your own, delivers major cost and implementation advantages
over traditional software. Hardware costs such as servers can be up to
50% lower, because the open source code is less storage- and
processing-intensive than proprietary software. Maintenance and
modification of the code is also easier for the same reason. What was
once the province of big price tag UNIX boxes, can now be addressed
with commodity Intel servers running operating software like RHEL. This
option gives users more budget to invest in applications.

At the end of the day, arguments about the platform on which you build
your IT solutions should be based on business benefit, not on the
marketing spin of technology vendors. I believe the Open Source route
makes sense in most cases but every company; every organisation has
different needs and different business drivers. While the world of
proprietary software still dominates, the two worlds of Open Source and
proprietary software are coming together. Cohabitation is the new word
and that can only help users.

Wise counsel suggests that, you should consider the alternatives, with
an open mind. Don’t be misled by out-of-date perceptions; instead,
challenge your vendors or implementers to justify their choice of
technology. Take control. After all, it’s your business that needs the
best-informed choice.

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