Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Open Source: a revolution in business, a revolution in life?

Thanks to Open Source Software, during the last three years the (family) company in which I work, Tau Informatica srl, has gradually changed its business activities: even if the services we provide are almost the same (i.e. ERP business consulting and software development), the way our business is carried on is completely different.

Now we are actively involved in the Open For Business Project, OFBiz, an open source enterprise automation software project: in fact I'm one of the members of OFBiz PMC.
During the last three years we have put a lot of effort to add to OFBiz the features needed by manufacturing firms, that are our main focus, (a lot of work still needs to be done) but now we are very happy of how our business is evolving and growing. We are sure that OFBiz is going to be one of our best bets/investments.

Before the switch to OFBiz, our services were based on DOMUS, our proprietary ERP system (for the iSeries platform). Somehow or other, DOMUS used to condition our decisions and strategies and limit our horizons, for example:
  • from a technological point of view we were strictly tied to one vendor: our employers were all RPG programmers, the hardware/softwares needed to run it were all delivered by IBM.
  • from a geographic point of view we were tied to one region, the north-east of Italy: all the clients and contacts were all here (with some remarkable exceptions)
As you can imagine the costs were also very high for a small software company and so I've convinced Mario (my father/boss) to gradually move to the open source software and to OFBiz.

Now the maintenance costs are lower (no more employers, even if sometimes we hire good developers on a per-project basis), we have the chance to play a role in several interesting international projects, we share code, ideas, plans with a big community composed by clever persons from all over the World.

Moreover, as an unexpected side effect we have realized that things are moving in the direction that the physical place in which we are and operate is no more so important: thanks to the way an open source project like OFBiz is managed and thanks to technologies such as SVN, Jira, VoIP, VNC, VPN etc... we are currently doing demos, contacting clients, managing and deploying projects remotely thru the Internet; we have never met face to face with many of our clients or partners.

Things are changing at the point that, during the last months, the dream of spending a part of the year in a beautiful exotic place (while continuing to work on OFBiz based projects) is attracting me a lot and it's becoming much more real as days pass.

At that point, OFBiz will be not only a revolution in business, but a revolution in my life.

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