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Choosing the Best Proprietary or Open-Source Applications


In IT, the definition of an application often depends on your focus or job. Line-of- business (LOB) managers face a tough decision when it comes to application selection. Do they keep a narrow focus on their domain, like manufacturing or order entry, or must they consider an enterprise outlook that takes a broad view of applications including ERP, customer relationship management (CRM), finance, manufacturing and more?

Industry solutions are an important grouping of applications and can maintain support maps and perform location analysis. They’re used for records management, governance, security and risk management, workload scheduling and administration—all in support of a specific industry, such as automotive, retail or financial services.

Whether LOB managers are narrow or broad in their scope, they’ll likely face the additional challenge of using proprietary or open-source solutions. In making the decision, they’ll have several items to consider, including solution maturity, cost, available support, skills, integration and fit. LOB managers should ask:

  • How long has the software been used and has it been successful?
  • What elements of total cost apply—software, support, maintenance, implementation services, training and others?
  • Is support available and proven?
  • Can we find skills and/or develop them through training?
  • Will the overall solution work with others in my current IT mix?
  • Is there a technical and cultural fit?

Proprietary Application Software

The leader in propriety application software that runs on Linux* is SAP, which has a 25 percent market share of the $25 billion ERP marketplace onforb.es/18Q7gAK. The other top ERP companies include Oracle, Sage, Infor and Microsoft*. Along with SAP, they make up 55 percent of the marketplace revenue. SAP has been in the marketplace for many years and is mature, yet evolving. It has grown in functionality to become a highly integrated application solution that contains support for many different business functions, including asset management, finance, human resources, information technology, manufacturing, marketing, procurement, research and development, engineering, sales, service, supply chain management, and corporate strategy and sustainability.

The SAP product has support from Red Hat and SUSE, both leading Linux OS distributors. IBM has robust support for SAP bit.ly/RBkMWi and because Linux runs on IBM systems, SAP often runs in environments boosted by IBM hardware, management and support software and implementation services from trained and certified practitioners.

Joseph Gulla is the general manager and IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of award-winning children’s books. Joe is a frequent contributor to IBM Destination z (the community where all things mainframe converge) and writes weekly for the IT Trendz blog where he explores a wide range of topics that interconnect with IBM Z.


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