Addressing the Concerns of Open Source ERP Software

24/04/2017

Jon Wilson

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This blog’s purpose is to address some of the major concerns around open source software and in particular implementing Odoo as open source ERP solution. First up some definitions

  • Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner - Wikipedia.

  • Proprietary software is software that is owned by an individual or a company (usually the one that developed it). There are almost always major restrictions on its use, and its source code is almost always kept secret - Linux information project.

Open SourceOpen source and proprietary ERP software are similar in many ways but many factors separate them. The similarities are in the implementation process since any successful ERP project, open source or proprietary, relies equally on planning, a carefully designed staged approach, and good management, and let’s not forget the human factors such as change management. A clear distinction does arise based on the underlying development philosophies. The differences manifest in many ways including code transparency,  income and support models, and several other areas expanded upon below.

Which model is right for your particular company is dependent on many factors and this blog will not solve that question for you definitively. However, it does address many of the rightly or wrongly perceived concerns about implementing an open source ERP system and is particularly focused on Odoo. 

Open Source ERP Software Concerns 

Income model for sustainability

Many people wonder how open-source can survive since there is no charge for the software how can the developers make a living and keep on developing and maintaining the product? Many open-source projects address this issue by dividing the product into a freely available “community” version and more full featured “enterprise” version which is backed by support from the developer. This model has been adopted by such products as Salesforce, Magento and Linux Redhat, and is the model Odoo has adopted since V9. Revenue is derived from Odoo’s SaaS (Software as a Service) offering and implementation services and the sale of enterprise licences to larger companies wishing to self-host Odoo. Both these income streams now mean that Odoo S.A. has viable business model with 81% of revenue coming from recurring revenue and costs remaining steady. In short Odoo S.A. have a dynamic company culture, a strong product and company vision and an excellent business model.

Support

Open Source ERP SupportMany people new to open source wonder about the long-term support options of the products as there can appear to be no large established company to ensure its ongoing viability. Whilst this concern is legitimate concern for smaller or niche open source products it of lesser concerns for product which have reached a critical mass like Linux. Odoo is now ranked #1 for open-source ERP products, and ranked #9 overall, and we believe has now reached critical mass thus ensuring its long-term viability and support.

An outstanding level of technical support is provided by the vibrant Odoo community association (OCA) of which WilldooIT is a founding member and a willing contributor.

WilldooIT’s support of our Odoo customers is no different than for our existing proprietary TIMMS product. All medium to large ERP implementations require experienced and professional project leaders, analysts, programmers and long-term service level agreements (SLA’s) in place, and WilldooIT has been providing such services for over 30+ years. Our SLA agreements provide unlimited support for a fixed monthly fee per user.

Security

Open Source ERP Security A common misconception is that open source software is less secure since the source code is available to all. However, this works both ways since open source software has many thousands of eyes scrutinising it ensures that flaws and security holes are found earlier. Odoo SA themselves issue timely security alerts with suggested patches should anything serious arise and WilldooIT apply them to all our hosted customers.

Of course security can be compromised by the application of weak username and passwords, however, this is not a fault of the software and can be enforced if required.

Security is also a function of the hosted platform.  WilldooIT’s hosts are locked down with access only available via the use of security certificates. Additionally, WilldooIT scrutinises any 3rd party Odoo modules a customer may choose to ensure they are not attempting to steal any information.

Stability

Stability is clearly in Odoo’ favour in our opinion. Odoo has well-managed source code repositories with nightly run-bot builds that include rigorous exercising of the inbuilt test routines. It is our understanding that code is first released internally to the Odoo staff, then to the SaaS platform and finally to the long-term supported releases. This ensures that Odoo’s supported versions are well tested upon release. Of course, having such a vibrant and knowledgeable community, also helps to spot and bugs quickly. Indeed, WilldooIT has submitted several code changes to rectify any issues we have found. Stability, is not a problem for Odoo.

Images: Deposit Photos

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Jonathan Wilson – Director of Sales (Odoo), WilldooIT

Jonathan has over 35 years’ experience in the IT industry, including 15 years the CEO and leader of WillowIT Pty Ltd. Jon’s vision led him to establishing establish WillowIT as the first Australian Odoo (formerly OpenERP) partner in 2009. Odoo is now the global leader in the provision of open source ERP and business software solutions. The company quickly established itself, becoming Odoo Best Partner Asia/Pacific on two occasions.

As an author and founding partner of Nexus Business Software, Jonathan held the positions of Director and CTO for 12 years.  At its peak, Nexus had over 1,000 active sites in Australia, Asia and Canada.

Previous technical management roles have been at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Theatre Company and the Victorian Road Research Board.

Jonathan has proven expertise in business process design and experience in driving company growth. His strengths as a technical visionary have added value to the Group’s expansion plans.

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