Open Insights 07 – Open Source in the Enterprise

Open Source in the Enterprise

Heavyweight Internet Group is of course involved heavily in Oracle

database administration, setup, management and tuning. The other half

of our business involves Open Source integration, and development

using various technologies such as the LAMP platform, Linux, Apache,

MySQL and

PHP. We also make heavy use of Open Source technologies to run the

enterprise, and thought it might be illustrative to talk about that.

There are a whole host of technologies and applications we rely on

from day to day to run our business. When I actually sat down to

write this months newsletter, I was rather shocked at how long the

list was. Here’s a peek into what we use.

Sales + Marketing

For starters we use the spectacular SugarCRM (http://sugarcrm.com

{http://sugarcrm.com}) for sales and customer relationship

management. More than an addressbook, it manages opportunity lists,

open tasks, calls, notes, leads, and accounts. You can keep track of

prospects at every stage of the sales process from prospecting,

qualification, needs analysis, value proposition, and id-ing decision

makers to perception analysis, proposal, price quote, negotiation, and

deal closed. There is also a dashboard which displays excellent color

graphs of sales stage, opportunity size, and breakdowns by month and

lead source. For a business like ours which has run for years on

paper, and disjointed organizing methods, this application has had a

tremendous impact.

Invoicing

Invoicing we manage with an application called phpaga. Still under

development, it already offers a host of features such as HTML or PDF

invoices, quotes, varying billable rates by project, and by resource,

as well as various graph reports. Definitely worth a look.

(http://phpaga.net {http://phpaga.net})

Web Content Management

Next we use PostNuke (http://postnuke.com {http://postnuke.com}) to

handle website content management automatically and easily. The

formating is not perfect, but it works quite well for our needs. We

have also started using Moveable Type (http://www.moveabletype.com/

{http://www.moveabletype.com/}) for managing our new weblog Oracle +

Open Source (http://oracleopensource.com

{http://oracleopensource.com}). All of these solutions use Apache

(http://www.apache.org {http://www.apache.org}) as a webserver, and

MySQL (http://mysql.com {http://mysql.com}) as a database for basic

website needs. Though this tool is not strictly open source, it has

fairly loose restrictions on usage, and comes with source code, so we

include it here. Of course you need a browser to view all

this great content, and though we dabble with Galeon, Opera, and even

IE from time to time, we primarily use Firefox

(http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

{http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/}) because it is fast, and

secure, saving all of our computing environment from the trouble of

spyware, adware, trojans, and other malware.

Desktop Publishing

Next we have started using OpenOffice (http://openoffice.org

{http://openoffice.org}) which provides fairly consistent

compatibility with Microsoft’s Office suite of tools. To be fair we

also occaisionally use the Windows versions too, as client comfort is

ultimately our goal. We’ve also begun using Scribus

(http://www.scribus.net {http://www.scribus.net}) for some

applications, which provides Quark-type document publishing, and can

generate nice PDF files as output.

Email, SPAM + List Management

Email lists we’ve just installed some new management software for

called phplist. (http://phplist.com {http://phplist.com}) It provides

support for multiple lists, and easy subscribe/unsubscribe which we’ve

currently been doing manually! For email itself we use Postfix

(http://www.postfix.org/ {http://www.postfix.org/}) Not email

solution would be complete if it couldn’t handle spam. For that we

use a whitelist solution called ASK (http://www.paganini.net/ask/

{http://www.paganini.net/ask/}) Not always perfect, it became an

absolute necessity when our junkmail started reaching into the

hundreds a day. Now we receive about one spam a week, from the odd

spammer that bothers to do an active reply.

Operating Systems

Of course no enterprise would be complete without an operating system

and we use Mandrake Linux 10.1 (http://www.mandrake.com

{http://www.mandrake.com}) in most cases, including the desktop (KDE

and GNOME) and on our mail + webservers. When we need to remotely

administer Windows machines, as is necessary from time to time, the

Open Source Cygwin tool comes in very handy. It provides a proper

command line interface, and openssh implementation for secure remote

logins. Most of the other standard Unix tools are there as well, such

as Emacs for editing.

Telephony

If you think you’ve heard it all, think again. Our enterprise phone

PBX uses the superb Asterisk PBX and VOIP gateway solution

(http://asterisk.org {http://asterisk.org}). This allows integration

of traditional trunks from the phone company as well as VOIP lines

over our internet connection. It supports standard telephone

equipment, IP phones, and digital softphones all of which we use

actively. We also use Skype (http://skype.com {http://skype.com}) to

coordinate with technologists, partners, and clients overseas.

Monitoring + Backups

No enterprise would be complete without monitoring and backup

solutions. For monitoring we use Nagios (http://www.nagios.org

{http://www.nagios.org}) for monitoring our own, and our client

systems, including web, mail, disk usage, load averages, Oracle

statistics and much more. It notifies us by email whenever there is a

problem. We manage our backups with rsync and rsnapshot

(http://www.rsnapshot.org/ {http://www.rsnapshot.org/}) two great

tools that are fast and efficient whe combined with a secure shell

like OpenSSH (http://www.openssh.org/ {http://www.openssh.org/}). For

site statistics we have some integrated information which comes

directly from Postnuke mentioned above, but we also use Webalizer

which provides fancy graphs broken down by month and year for

detailed information directly from the webserver logfiles.

Development

Lastly we use a few tools for project management. Since we coordinate

and manage the efforts of a number of developers we use CVS

(https://www.cvshome.org/ {https://www.cvshome.org/}) for version

control. This allows everyone to be making changes to the code at the

same time without stepping on each others toes. We also have a trouble

ticket system called OTRS (http://otrs.org/ {http://otrs.org/}) which

helps us manage change requests, and bugs in these various

applications so the developers know what to work on and what has the

highest priority.

In an enterprise which handles 14 hosted domains, mostly for

non-profit organizations, as well as six active clients, we need to

be organized to remain efficient and effective. We use powerful

software to help us do that, and remain focused on pressing business

matters.