Sunday, March 27, 2005

Linux gains ground in enterprise resource planning

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is one of the last application areas in which Linux has little or no impact. The Peerstone Group, a market research firm, found that only two percent of corporations relied on Linux to support their ERP applications in 2004. Yet, recently, a growing number of Linux ERP vendors have emerged. Although obstacles remain, the future of Linux in ERP looks promising.

An early pioneer in Linux ERP was Pharma Nord, a Danish pharmaceutical company that has 300 employees in more than 20 countries. Prior to 2003, the firm relied on the Globus ERP system. However, Globus's MS-DOS foundation could not easily support the new virtual private network functions that Pharma Nord was deploying. Instead, Pharma Nord chose Compiere, an open source ERP system that runs on Linux.

In addition, Peerstone listed a handful of potential problems in its survey. Respondents placed finding and paying experienced Linux personnel at the top of the list. "Microsoft has developed a number of training programs, so companies can find Windows support personnel fairly easily, but there hasn't been the same level of support in the Linux community," says Peerstone's Gould. Red Hat understands the challenge, and is meeting it. According to Crenshaw, "We now have trained more than 100,000 individuals worldwide in the use of our operating system and more training is planned for 2005."

Despite the roadblocks, Linux has a bright future in the ERP space. "In a few years, I expect that about one-third of all ERP applications will run on Linux, with the other thirds evenly divided between Unix and Windows," concludes Peerstone's Gould.

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