The Third Wave on Video [on Simon Phipps, SunMink]

Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer of Sun Microsystems shares his very insightful perspective on the “third wave” of free and open source software. Check it out.

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The Gallery of Exploding Servers « Data Center Knowledge

These videos are pretty cool: Some servers die quietly in their racks, with little fanfare. But not these servers. Some failed to meet expectations. Others were found to be convenient fodder for marketing stunts. All of them had their demise preserved on video and posted on the Internet. We present the Data Center Knowledge Gallery of Exploding Servers, with some falling and crushing servers thrown in for good measure. (Note: please don’t try any of this at home, or anywhere else. If you have issues with your servers, live vicariously through these videos).

Check out the other videos here.

History of ERP

The Open Source ERP Guru put together an informative history of ERP applications:

ERP History | Open Source ERP Guru

It all began with 5 IBM engineers from Manheim, Germany , working nights and weekends on the next big thing in software: ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning. The year was 1972, and the business software world was a spaghetti of systems, vendors and technologies. Departments could not communicate with each other because their software systems spoke different languages. Babel tower of custom applications. SAP was about to change everything.

They even have a Flash-based history timeline. Go check it out!

Top 5 Low Cost SaaS CRM Alternatives for Small and Midsized Busineses

In continuation of my last post, I want to tackle this time low cost CRM packages or services for small and mid-sized business looking to implement CRM in their organization. In this post I will focus on five CRM SaaS Vendors:

  1. Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com is an acknowledged pioneer in Software-as-a-Service applications and market leader in CRM. When you sign up for the service you can choose from different editions–ie Personal, Group, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited. The system itself is broken down into several applications:
    Sales, Service & Support, Partner Relationship Management,
    Marketing, Content, Ideas and Analytics. Updates are done acording to seasons of the year–so they have a Winter release, Spring release and so on. Pros: Large user base; stable company; long term viability; mature infrastructure and feature set; rich ecosystem of third party apps to extend functionality; highly configurable and extensible platform called Force.com. Cons: Purely online service; lock in a real danger; the really nice features are only available in the high end editions; expensive for large deployments.
  2. Rightnow. RightNow’s suite of applications includes multi-channel Service, Sales,
    Marketing, Customer Feedback Management, Voice Automation, and
    Analytics. Rightnow started off as a traditional on-premise CRM  vendor but now seems to focus on On-Demand. Pros: Really strong in customer service; rich feature set in customer service type applications and workflows; close partnerships with telephony vendors make it a good choice for a contact center. Cons: Premium pricing; can be expensive over time; not much third party support developing on the platform.
  3. ZohoCRM. Zoho CRM is a new entrant to the SaaS CRM market and is gaining a lot of interest I believe because of its low cost, and its relationship and integration with the Zoho suite of online SaaS applications. Its feature set seems to be primarily focused on sales force automation (like Salesforce a few releases back) and has some basic features to extend and customize its features and functionality. Updates like many of the Zoho applications are frequent. Pros: low cost; integration with Zoho apps; unique features such as online spreadsheet integration; good choice as an entry level solution. Cons: little or no extensions or 3rd party support, basic APIs, functionality geared towards small teams.
  4. LongJump CRM. Technically speaking LongJump positions itself as an application platform when it started out which can easily be configured for CRM (this is the opposite of Salesforce.com which started out focused on CRM and is now repositioning as a platform provider, or Zoho which is more of a suite of different apps than an integrated platform). Longjump is easily extensible and configurable, and templates exist to reconfigure the application into something else. Overall a promising vendor although not as well known. Pros: Highly extensible and configurable; integrated platform. Cons: Seems to have a low customer base, small company, not as well known as other competitors, purely online service; lock in a real danger.
  5. Netsuite. Netsuite originally was focused on hosted ERP but has now reached a point where they now offer a comprehensive CRM solution as well. Everything is intergated together and offered as a suite, and on top of CRM you have a mature ERP product as well as modules for SCM, E-commerce, PRM, Analytics and others. Pros: mature product; wide breadth of features and functionality; complete beyond CRM. Cons: Expensive, purely online; vendor lock in a danger; limited third party extensions.

Next time I’l try to post CRM solutions from open source vendors. If I missed anything let me know!

Open Source Vendor SugarCRM Embraces Cloud Computing in a Big Way

Open source CRM vendor SugarCRM is one of a few companies to embrace open source and cloud computing in a big way. When SugarCRM first came out, they immediately offered to provide the software as a service online–similar to Salesforce.com, with the important distinction that you can choose to download and host the software yourself if you want. Larger organizations who want to roll their own hosted software service for customers can opt to use a special package called the SugarCRM Data Center Edition.

Just recently SugarCRM launched a new way to meld Internet services and open source software by launching Cloud Services and Social Feeds. These new Cloud Connectors for SugarCRM allow for company and contact data residing in other cloud environments to be called and presented in SugarCRM. These services include such sites as LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Crunchbase. The Sugar Feeds feature on the other hand provides a Facebook-like rolling set of notices and alerts based on activity within SugarCRM.

SugarCRM is interesting to watch because of the pace of innovation they bring to open source and how they unabashedly marry commercial interests with the altruistic motivations often-associated (rightly or wrongly)  with open source. From the looks of things they seem to be succeeding.

A new way to work with Zoho | FastCompany.TV

Interview with Raju Vegesna, evangelist for Zoho–a suite of online services for collaboration, productivity and workflow software. Interesting points: Zoho’s breadth of services make them a good starting point for anyone who wants to start with cloud computing. Regarding their market positioning–they like to see themselves as “an IKEA and not a Walmart” where you have access to quality products for a good price. They also have an online market place for community contributed applications developed using the Zoho platform. Interesting as well is their Cloud SQL which provides the ability to work with data in Zoho using SQL. Check it out! Interview done by Robert Scoble of Fast Company TV.

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China Enthusiastic Users of Open Source

A blog posting from ZDNet by Peter Cheng talks about how China is planning to accelerate the local economy through science and technology. In the next coming 11 years, the Chinese government will invest US$85 billion on technology innovation, including projects around open source. He went on to post some interesting stats on open source usage in China:

Right time for China to use open source as alternative : Open Source : Blogs : ZDNet Asia

1) Desktop is the king: Desktop OS adoption is at 69.5 percent; Server OS at 68.2 percent; Database at 50.1 percent; Web browser at 47.2 percent; Programing language at 46 percent

2) Who’s using open source software? SMB (small and midsize business) adoption stands at 42.7 percent; Large enterprise at 26.4 percent; Education at 19.4 percent; Individuals at 10 percent

3) Industry adoption of open source: Internet at 78.8 percent; Enterprise at 52.5 percent; Telecom at 30 percent; e-government at 27.3 perent

4) Where do people get their open source software? Network downloads 94.6 percent; Free CDs at 35.1 percent; Purchased CDs from resellers at 12.4 percent

5) Where do people access open source information? Open source community at 87.1 percent; Search engine at 65.7 percent; Open source companies at 38.7 percent

6) Who is the best sponsor of open source? IBM at 64.7 percent; Sun Microsystems at 63.1 percent; Google at 61.2 percent; Intel at 15.3 percent

The most interesting part for me is the extent of OS adoption for the Desktop. More than 3 out of 5 users according the study (in Chinese) were using open source software on their desktops. Now with over 1.3 billion people in China, with an estimated 300 milliion of which are computer and Internet users–that equates to a lot of users who are consumers and perhaps later on, potential contributors to open source. Think about it.

Red Hat and Microsoft Work Together to Have Interoperable Virtualization Platforms–Battlefield in Enterprise Computing is Shifting

Red Hat announced a few days back that they have signed an interoperability agreement with Microsoft. Under the agreement both companies will allow operating systems from one to run on the hypervisors of the other.

redhat.com | The World’s Open Source Leader

“The world of IT today is a mixture of virtualized and non-virtualized environments. Red Hat is looking to help our customers extend more rapidly into virtualized environments, including mixed Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server environments,” said Mike Evans, vice president, Corporate Development at Red Hat. “Red Hat listened when our customers asked us to provide interoperability between our respective guest and host virtualization solutions. We are excited to announce these agreements today as the result of our collaboration with Microsoft.”

Now from a technical standpoint–this news isn’t much, but it is significant for the enterprise end user and partner channels as this would put the resources of both companies in testing, validation and support for each other’s operating systems when
running on each other’s server virtualization hypervisors. As part of the deal, Microsoft is now a partner in Red Hat’s
virtualization certification program, and Red Hat has joined
Microsoft’s server virtualization validation program.

Clearly this piece of news shows that virtualization technology is now mainstream, and shows customers are putting enough pressure on the big vendors to set aside market place rivalry and philosophical differences to meet their needs. Customers are now running heterogenous or mixed operating system environments. Long term this also shows that the importance of the operating system is becoming less and less, and the battle will move on to the next level up the stack–in Middleware. In Red Hat’s case its Jboss and for Microsoft its .NET (Microsoft supports Novell’s efforts to support .NET in non-Windows environments). Also the battle is now being moved to another front–this time away from the enterprise data center and standardized, big iron machines and into the Internet cloud of commodity, virtualized heterogenous systems.

Welcome to the new world of computing!

Globelines SMTP Settings – Globelines sucks!

This post is basically a rant for something that is really dumb. For some time now it seems that my ISP, Globelines, has cut off sending mail to other SMTP servers by blocking port 25 for their regular DSL customers. Apparently they have posted that this was done to avoid sending spam out through the Globelines network. (Why they can’t just install some sort of email filtering solution, authentication, or allowing relay only from IPs within their IP pool when sending via SMTP is beyond me). To get around it, apparently you had to avail of a Static IP (Globe gives out only dynamic IPs) which costs an additional Php 600 monthly.

Well this has happened to me and I’m really pissed off about it. For one thing they didn’t bother to notify their subscribers about the change. Some sort of email advisory or notice along with the billing  should have been done. What really sucked was I figured maybe they would allow SMTP connections via port 25 on their own SMTP servers. I searched using Google (simply because the customer support page in their website was useless and tech support couldn’t understand what I wanted to do) until I found that somebody had posted a manual for using the Globe Broadband service.

From there I had the bright idea of using the webmail SMTP settings (webmail.globelines.com.ph) as my SMTP server. I tried it out using my desktop mail client (I’m using Thunderbird), and wonder of wonders my mail client would connect. I tried sending out an email and it seemed to go through. Content I made it my permanent setting and used it whenever I was sending large files from home (I normally use webmail but would refrain from using it when sending files as it was such a hassle to attach files as my upstream connection from Globelines sucked even more!).

Well apparently this was a mistake because although the SMTP server would accept the connection–it did not send it out (which is again dumb). I had to learn this the hard way when some clients complained that they were not receiving important emails from me.

It’s a good thing somebody posted the correct work around (which nobody bothered to post on the Globelines website or to update customer service with). You can change the port of your SMTP settings in your mail client from port 25 to port 587 (I discovered this from comments in a Blog post for crying out loud!) and it should work.

Somebody should really take Globe up to task for their lousy service. Maybe you can sign up for an online petition here (which is for another issue entirely but maybe you can join the fight?). The lousy thing is there is little choice as there is a lock in period and some ISPs are no better or even worse.

If everyone there is experiencing the same thing let me know!

Is Drupal the Linux of the Web Content Management World?

The guys over at Lullabot just posted a series of FREE videos from their Do it with Drupal conference late part of last year where they redo 37Signal’s Basecamp in Drupal. Last time they did a Flickr clone in Drupal and also did a Twitter-like microblogging website in Drupal.

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Drupal is slowly going beyond just being an open source web CMS and is becoming a web application platform in its own right. It works great as malleable, customizable, collaborative/social networking application platform for the web. Core members want Drupal to be a de facto platform for the Internet–just as Apache and Linux are now. Not bad for a completely community-supported project.

Recently Drupal project author Dries Butaert started a company called Acquia to provide commercial support for the project. A channel program for ISVs and Integrators has also been launched middle of last year. Its interesting to see what the future will bring for Drupal. Can Drupal become the next Linux and will Acquia be the next Red Hat of the web content management world?