Some suggestions when looking at OpenSource products

opensourcePreface
People mostly think about “free software” when they think of Open Source. I guess this is the biggest miscomprehension there is, as Open Source doesn’t need to be free. It also doesn’t need to be “home brew” also, as many Open Source projects simply are “Enterprise Grade”. This article is meant to tutor you on finding the right Open Source product for your “problem”…

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In need of a CRM?

Say what?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term applied to processes implemented by a company to handle its contact with its customers. CRM software is used to support these processes, storing information on current and prospective customers. Information in the system can be accessed and entered by employees in different departments, such as sales, marketing, customer service, training, professional development, performance management, human resource development, and compensation. Details on any customer contacts can also be stored in the system. The rationale behind this approach is to improve services provided directly to customers and to use the information in the system for targeted marketing While the term is generally used to refer to a software-based approach to handling customer relationships, most CRM software vendors stress that a successful CRM strategy requires a holistic approach. CRM initiatives often fail because implementation was limited to software installation without providing the appropriate motivations for employees to learn, provide input, and take full advantage of the information systems.

(source wikipedia)

Options?
There are several products out there that could get the job done, but just like with all product selections first get an understanding of what you would like to do. Based upon that given feature set you’ll be able to decide which products can be eliminated quite easily. Today I’m going to present four products where two are OpenSource products (with community editions) and two from a SaaS (Software as a Service).

Continue reading “In need of a CRM?”

John Perez’s Top 25 OSS alternatives to enterprise apps

2009 Budgets are in and for many who oversee the Operations and IT Budget, you are probably challenged to reduce your capital budget by at least 40% lower than what you originally put in. As the pressure to cut continues, you may want to rethink about the software vendors you have selected to introduce into the Enterprise, or even think about replacing your legacy Enterprise applications with more cost effective open source alternatives.

Out of his 25 apps, I must say that we’re using about 5… 😉 Despite being an OSS believer, be aware that these solutions just shift costs from the cost center “license” to “payroll” and that every integration creates a “lockin”… Do OSS because you believe in the “Open” aspect or where you don’t want to go for enterprise grade support!

OpenSource Storage Management

I came across OpenFiler a while ago and was intriged by it. Now I’ve taken the liberty to testing it in my lab, and I must say that I’m impressed by the features. It’s something every sysadmin should check out to see if it isn’t a viable solution for their overpriced storage solution… 😉

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Openfiler is a powerful, intuitive browser-based network storage software distribution. Openfiler delivers file-based Network Attached Storage and block-based Storage Area Networking in a single framework. Its uses the rPath Linux metadistribution and is distributed as a stand-alone Linux distribution. The entire software stack interfaces with third-party software that is all open source.

File-based networking protocols supported by Openfiler include: NFS, SMB/CIFS, HTTP/WebDAV and FTP. Network directories supported by Openfiler include NIS, LDAP (with support for SMB/CIFS encrypted passwords), Active Directory (in native and mixed modes) and Hesiod. Authentication protocols include Kerberos 5.

Openfiler includes support for volume-based partitioning, iSCSI (target and initiator), scheduled snapshots, resource quota, and a single unified interface for share management which makes allocating shares for various network file-system protocols a breeze.

Talking about NAS or SAN?

NAS
A NAS unit is essentially a self-contained computer connected to a network, with the sole purpose of supplying file-based data storage services to other devices on the network. The operating system and other software on the NAS unit provide the functionality of data storage, file systems, and access to files, and the management of these functionalities. The unit is not designed to carry out general-purpose computing tasks, although it may technically be possible to run other software on it. NAS units usually do not have a keyboard or display, and are controlled and configured over the network, often by connecting a browser to their network address. The alternative to NAS storage on a network is to use a computer as a file server. In its most basic form a dedicated file server is no more than a NAS unit with keyboard and display and an operating system which, while optimised for providing storage services, can run other tasks; however, file servers are increasingly used to supply other functionality, such as supplying database services, email services, and so on.

SAN
Put in simple terms, a SAN is a specialized, high-speed network attaching servers and storage devices and, for this reason, It is sometimes referred to as “the network behind the servers.” A SAN allows “any-to-any” connection across the network, using interconnect elements such as routers, gateways, hubs, switches and directors. It eliminates the traditional dedicated connection between a server and storage, and the concept that the server effectively “owns and manages” the storage devices. It also eliminates any restriction to the amount of data that a server can access, currently limited by the number of storage devices attached to the individual server. Instead, a SAN introduces the flexibility of networking to enable one server or many heterogeneous servers to share a common storage utility, which may comprise many storage devices, including disk, tape, and optical storage. Additionally, the storage utility may be located far from the servers that use it.

Comparing NAS & SAN
Look towards NAS as sharing on file level, where you provide access to a filesystem to many by protocols such as CIFS, Samba, NFS, HTTP, … SAN shares a disk on block level, where you should look at it as a raw disk that you share over a network (iSCSI, Fiber Channel, …). It’s a one-on-one relation where the operating system (or application) should take care of the filesystem. (More info)

Demystifying Storage

If you’re looking for a good Open Source product for all your storage needs:
www.openfiler.com

OpenGoo, potential for small teams

What is OpenGoo?

OpenGoo is an Open Source Web Office. It is a complete solution for every organization to create, collaborate, share and publish all its internal and external documents.

Imagine an OpenSource “Google Apps”… It’s got potential, but it isn’t an easy roadmap to fulfil. Anyway, it might be interesting to keep your eyes on for the future.

LogiTouch

About a month ago I started my own webdesign agency. So after almost 2 years of kvaes.be I’ve took the step towards entrepreneurship!

We focus on the “local” market, providing quality websites at an affordable price. It’s not “yet another high priced” bureau… The OpenSource world provides the means which enables us to provide a very interesting price.