Though the major enterprise-application vendors are readying their ERP software for the brave new open-source world, and more companies are shifting to open-source environments, there's plenty of room for growth.
New-license revenue for open-source supply-chain apps running on Linux is expected to reach only $70 million in 2005, up from $53 million last year, and $21 million in 2003, estimates research firm Gartner. "I haven't seen a mass enterprise push for ERP software and supply-chain applications to run on open source," says Chad Eschinger, a Gartner principal analyst.
But Dave Duffield, founder of PeopleSoft Inc., which is now owned by Oracle, apparently expects that to change. Few details have been released about Duffield's new venture, Workday Inc., a software company he unveiled last month, that's said to be focused on delivering a hosted ERP software platform.
The burning question is whether Workday will make its ERP software product debut in open source. Tips from the company's Web site and industry sources indicate that its engineers are developing the platform using open-source technologies, such as Linux, to lower development costs. A company spokeswoman says it's too early to comment.
Workday isn't alone. A few startups are trying to establish credibility as open-source enterprise-application companies, including privately held ComPiere, which installed its first deployment in 2000; OpenMFG; and customer-relationship-management vendor SugarCRM. ComPiere and Open- MFG are the vanguard of the new-age entrepreneurs trying to push open source beyond its operating-systems roots and into critical business applications that support finance and accounting practices.
But Workday faces even tougher competition from large software companies, including Oracle, SAP, and SSA Global, which have strong positions in the ERP software market. Duffield has shown in the past that he can compete with the big guys. It remains to be seen whether Workday is the product that will let him do it again.