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Re: [Phpgroupware-users] "Betting Your Company" on PHPGroupware

From: Alex Borges
Subject: Re: [Phpgroupware-users] "Betting Your Company" on PHPGroupware
Date: 03 Aug 2003 02:54:23 -0500

El vie, 01-08-2003 a las 08:08, Doug Dicks escribió:
> Hello All,
> I need some opinions or advice.
> A month ago some of my coworkers and I left our previous employer to 
> start a new company.  We've just gotten our first significant contract, 
> one which calls for a groupware (email, address book, time-tracking) 
> solution.  It's a large number of users, but generally not all at the 
> same time. 
> We'd really like to use an open solution.  We all believe in open source 
> and are willing to contribute work back to the project.  Something like 
> Exchange/Outlook would kill our profit margin, but we'd rather break 
> even than fail.
> The new project is pretty high-visibility within the local community and 
> has several very large companies involved.  The outcome of this project 
> will certainly have a major, major impact on the future of our new company.
> So, given all of this, would you use PHPGroupware if this were *your* 
> company?  Why or why not?
> Thanks for your advice.  PHPGroupware is our "plan a", and I need to 
> validate this direction.  Things should get rolling very quickly now 
> that we have the deal, and the project schedule doesn't allow for any 
> time to change out the core technology half-way through.
> Thanks again.  I look forward to your comments.

This is a very good question. Some of the contributors here are members
of company that have taken this step long ago. Probably the first of
them should be Dan and/or jengo (dont remember), creators of this thing,
that founded a company.... and many others. Some of them founded their
companies, others are independent consultants and others are in-house
consultants for the companies they work with.

|Here is a success story. Ill try to be as objective as possible.

All in all, i have a phpgw working with a 600 administrative (with pcs
and net connections) user organization with 30 branches all over my
country (mexico) and in other countries (costa rica, the us). This is a
large autoparts maker. Its been a lot of work, but i dont regret it at
all, this year its actually starting to pay off.

I started that deployment last year, about march. I was supposed to move
this guys from exchange to a solution of my choosing. I had been
tracking phpgw and using it inhouse for a year before that and i liked

So in i went. I saved them about 90% of what it was gonna cost them if
they stayed in exchange (two year deadline was comming), so i lost money
(do the numbers), and i had to heavily modify phpgw to their liking. 

Took me about 8 months to stabilize the whole thing with migration and
all the changes they wanted (the javascript addressbook was one of those

Today its a different story i think. The phpgw i took back then was a
great app, but it needed significant tweaking to make it into that
corporate datacenter. Stuff like a central company directory with links
to accounts were there, just not how the admin wanted it. So i rolled my
own changes.

In the end all my work it was so messy that i didnt even want to pass it
back to the community, knowing it would be instantly rejected (hey, i
rejected it myself). So, i waited until stabilization was completed and,
in the meantime, i started contributing and discussing what the client
asked of me.

The release schedulled by aug 8 covers all of what i did and more with a
very high standard of quality.

Some of that was made by the community since some ppl here had the same
needs as myself, some were ideas of other ppl that i hadnt thought of,
some is stuff that im paying to be done and is being finished as we
write (its 2:30 am here, i should get back to that).

This year we were contacted by a university with 4000 students wanting
an e-learning solution. I immediatly thought of phpgw but my associates
shrugged on me since weve spent so much on it with almost no profit
(now, to level this, this is not true, its not much proffit from phpgw,
but the client also pays a service fee for network consultancy and
mantainership of their servers. we convinced them to switch their dbms
to linux as well, and we wouldve never gotten in if we didnt have what
they really needed at the right time). 

So anyways, i started looking for this elearning solution and found it,
its called whiteboard. But, in looking at it, i thought most of its
stuff is already in good shape in phpgw, so it would be a better idea to
port it. I contacted the author and he is interested in the idea. So we
will probably have that by the end of the year as well.

Another client thats a-comming is an industry needing a simple CRM. With
quoting capabilities for their sales model. No prob, i thought, there is
CKledger and, whatever it cannot do, we can make happen in house.

So, all in all, phpgroupware has some shortcommings, but they are mainly
related to the fact that its written in php. What ive learned is that
its a PLATFORM, not just a webmail or a suite, but a whole framework for
building collaboration applications. From that point of view, phpgw has
NO match, no other FLOSS groupware project that ive found worries about
providing a platfrom independent collaboration API. This thing can
export its methods through xmlrpc or php and supports a good number of
databases for the backend.

In this respect, everyone in the community is working on that idea (i
think). You have escandinavian companies doing some great document
management stuff, american ppl studying the posibilities of
interoperation of phpgw with other FLOSS solutions (OpenOffice,
OpenGroupware, Evolution), EU companies making plugins to sync it with
outlook, others trying to formalize and document the design, AU
consultants working on the freamework to have a generic syncronization
solutions (palm syncyng...etc.) and we are ALL open to subcontracts (had
to pitch that one in).

Its a live community of ppl with real business problems and scenarios,
most likely similar to yours, so, YES, I bet my company on this thing,
for that matter, I bet yours! ... ;)

Also, this is a community that you can talk with, discuss the problems
you encounter and i can assure you that, if you interact with it the
right way, youll soon find people with solutions to your problems
(solutions that maybe youll have to implement yourself, maybe not).

So, thats the risk, that a FLOSS project may or may not go in the
direction you want it to. Same thing happens with linux or any other
project of this kind. BUT, if you comply with the quality and
interaction ettiquete rules, you will allways have a way to solve your
problems by doing it yourself, by associating with interested parties in
the community or by paying to get it done (there are guidelines for this
too, not everything will be accepted into core, even if you try and pay,
but there is a place for this kind of modification as well).

Um...i cant direct you to the links where all this stuff is documented
(guidelines, way to cause the main site got haXored by
evil daemon-kiddies. But stick arround, download the thing, look at the
api, discuss your needs and have tons of fun.

(Hell thats a long sales pitch)

> Doug
> --
> Doug Dicks
> Revelant Technologies
> _______________________________________________
> Phpgroupware-users mailing list
> address@hidden

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