10 Open Source Server Technologies You Need to Know

Thursday Feb 18th 2010 by Kenneth Hess
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Technology for open source servers is about more than Linux. Here are 10 must-evaluate projects for open source servers in any enterprises considering making the leap.

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If you think technologies for open source servers is limited to Linux distributions, think again. Although these software projects pair well with Linux, it isn't an integral part of any of the 10 listed. Software for open source servers no longer refers to Linux-only environments. In fact, open source servers now cross all operating system boundaries, so much so, that Microsoft launched its own open source laboratory called Port 25, and it is a platinum-level sponsor of the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco. To introduce you to 10 hot technologies for open source servers that you need to know, I compiled a diverse list of projects and applications for you to discover and explore. Many of these products are free of cost or close to it.

1. Zenoss

Zenoss is an open source IT Management suite. You can observe and monitor your entire network using Zenoss. It consists of an alert console, network discovery, performance monitoring, service monitoring and inventory modules. It is enterprise-ready, free, easy to install and maintain, and modular through ZenPacks.

2. Mono

Mono is the open source implementation of Microsoft's .NET technologies. When I first heard of the Mono Project, I didn't know how to put a Microsoft technology into the open source world category, but it has captured the attention of developers and businesses on a worldwide scale. Sponsored by Novell, this technology combines two incompatible worlds (*nix and Microsoft) into a single agile, open source and stable realm. Mono allows you to develop powerful and advanced server-side applications on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows

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3. Apache

The Apache Web Server is the Internet's most popular Web server, and the project everyone associates with apache.org. However, it might surprise you to know that there are more than 70 other projects under the Apache umbrella. Enterprise-level projects include ActiveMQ, Geronimo, SpamAssassin and Tomcat. Although many of the Apache projects relate to Java (e.g., Geronimo and Tomcat), several are stand-alone projects (OFBiz), and a few directly enhance Apache (mod_perl). If you haven't checked out apache.org lately, you should. Apache.org has morphed into more than the just a URL from which you download the Apache Web Server; it's a repository of the most powerful open source software in the world.

4. SugarCRM

If you'd like to use a customer relationship management (CRM) software suite with a disruptive engineering and marketing model, SugarCRM is for you. The SugarCRM team takes a unique approach to enterprise software marketing: You get the product to use, and when you need advanced functionality, you engage SugarCRM for a commercial relationship. The company puts its money and effort into building the product, not marketing or sales efforts. This model has propelled "Sugar" into being the world's leading open source CRM product.

5. Drupal

Content management systems (CMSs) provide a collaborative environment for social networking sites, corporate Web sites, intranets, community portals, e-commerce applications and discussion sites. Drupal is a CMS that allows communities to publish, share and manage a variety of content on a Web server. Communities range from a few users to tens of thousands. Drupal is modular and has dozens of add-ons that enhance its functionality and appeal, such as blogs, forums, newsletters, podcasting, photos, file uploading and downloading, collaborative authoring and e-commerce.

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6. OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris is the x86 version of Sun's Solaris operating system. The two most exciting aspects of this operating system are that it runs on inexpensive x86 hardware and it contains all of the built-in enterprise components (virtualization and ZFS) as the standard Solaris offering. OpenSolaris delivers next-generation computing technology, commercial support and a worldwide development community.

7. MySQL

MySQL, now owned by Oracle, is the world's most popular open source database software. It's available for almost any operating system, and it is drag-and-drop-capable with no modifications from one platform to another. MySQL powers business applications, Internet sites and enterprise tools, such as Zenoss. It competes with the most-expensive commercial relational database systems.

8. Pentaho

Pentaho is a commercial company that offers a community edition of its open source business intelligence product as free to use, explore and change at will. Both editions have query, reporting, interactive analysis, dashboards, data integration and data mining. Pentaho's philosophy changes the economics of enterprise-class business intelligence by serving up its commercial version for an annual subscription priced less than one-third of what its competitors charge. Its customer testimonials speak volumes in favor of its claims of lowering the TCO for business intelligence software.

9. Magento

Magento eCommerce suite (the Community Edition) offers a free and open source method of propelling your business toward those Internet millions you hear so much about. The Magento Enterprise Edition is also open source, but it carries a commercial license for advanced support and functionality. The Community Edition offers full e-commerce capabilities, such as catalog browsing, marketing tools, analytics and reporting, search engine optimization, mobile commerce, checkout, shipping and customer service modules.

10. Java

Java technologies have powered enterprise applications since 1995. Java currently powers more than 800 million PCs, 2 billion handheld devices and 3.5 billion smart cards as well as a host of set-top boxes, Web cams, games, medical devices and much more. With uptake by major companies such as Oracle (Java's new owner) and IBM, Java is a technology to watch and embrace for all levels of enterprise use.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.

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