OpenERP Expands Capabilities Of Open-Source Application Set

Open-source ERP and business application developer OpenERP S.A. has introduced a major "release candidate" upgrade of its flagship application suite and is seeking feedback from its user and developer communities.

OpenERP, which positions itself as an open-source alternative to ERP applications from SAP, Oracle and other vendors, said the new OpenERP version 6 release is far easier for SMBs to implement and use.

Today the most popular open-source software products, such as the Linux operating system and MySQL database, are largely in the IT infrastructure and middleware areas. But Marc Laporte, OpenERP's chief operating officer, said in an interview that adoption of open-source technology is expanding into the application arena.

OpenERP version 6 includes CRM, purchase management, manufacturing, warehouse management, project management, accounting and human resource management applications. Laporte said the company wants its user and developer communities to evaluate the release candidate of the software and provide feedback before the company ships a final version in December.

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Altogether the application suite, written in the Python language, has more than 100 new features including multi-company functionality, marketing campaign management, a simplified accounting interface, talent acquisition, and push and pull logistics flows.

Next: OpenERP's Channel Efforts

OpenERP sells almost exclusively through the channel, according to Laporte, and the company has been expanding its channel program recently. "It's an essential part of our strategy," he said, with VARs and systems integrators that have an open-source software practice making up the bulk of the company's partner base.

The OpenERP developer community has built some 500 add-on modules that work with the application suite, according to the company.

Along with traditional ERP and CRM software suppliers, OpenERP also competes with other developers of open-source enterprise applications including Compiere, which was acquired in June by Consona Corp., and xTuple.