Does open source SaaS exist? It seems that of late, there’s a lot of debate on whether or not SaaS and open source are friends or foes, and there’s debate on which one will ultimately win out for the optimal software philosophy. This kind of lends to the belief by many that there’s no such thing as truly open source SaaS or that it cannot exist due to disparity in what either concept actually is.
Well, there’s something to be said about SaaS being difficult to work as open source due to the expenses of private cloud infrastructures being possible in order to customize and deploy one’s own build of an open source system intended to utilize it.
However, not all SaaS is cloud entirely, so we can broaden our horizons a bit and include some CMS software, the pioneer of SaaS, among some other systems, in a list of truly open source SaaS.
So, with that in mind, we’re going to list the top five SaaS constructs that’re free and open source, just to point out that the concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, if for no other reason.
We’ll try to keep the list to individual purposes, but there may be one or two exceptions simply because major SaaS developers don’t even think to go open source due to misconceptions.
#1 – WordPress
Yeah, WordPress is SaaS. And it is open source. You can freely download the entire source of WordPress, in fact it’s kind of necessary if you wish to customize and install it yourself on a host of your choosing. While many hosts out there offer an installation of it for you, many people choose to handle it themselves, given it’s easier to have a contemporary version this way of course.
So, how is this SaaS and why is it on this top five? Well, SaaS is any software of specific functionality which is intended to carry through a browser over a remote feed, rather than run from a local machine or local network. Ergo, WordPress is one of the original SaaS models.
WordPress is great as a publication and content management system.
#2 – ToLive
ToLive is an ERP SaaS service that is not only open source but widely documented and has led to the success of several small businesses that have blossomed into successful enterprises. Being open-source it is easy for this software to be made flexible, where most ERP even in SaaS is rigid in its scale limitations, especially downward.
#3 – SugarCRM
SugarCRM is an open source CRM suite which is the first of its kind. Where most CRM SaaS suites simply allow programming in proprietary templates and scripts, SugarCRM can be completely modified to meet varying diversities and scales just like ToLive does for ERP.
If you can’t find a CRM suite that’s perfect for you, you can, with a little elbow grease, make SugarCRM perfect for you.
#4 – elgg
Elgg is an open source social network engine. Social networks are one of the most important and growing applications of SaaS outside the strict business world, and as companies are striving to form their own proprietary networks for the social movement in parallel with a presence in the mainstream ones, this is probably the best platform to make this possible.
Open source social media is rare, so elgg is something to keep an eye on.
#5 – piwigo
Piwigo is an open source gallery system. There are many of these out there, but the power of this one is that it can easily be reconfigured as a gallery based content delivery system for anything, including videos, web apps, photos, games and much more. A company who wants dynamic content delivery can’t miss out on the amazing things people are doing with this, the oldest form of structured SaaS out there.
These are a few open source SaaS suites available. There’s not a lot out there at the moment, because of the preconceptions about open source and SaaS being mutually exclusive. These prove they are not, and maybe having brought this to light, people will overcome this assumption in the future and we can write a far grander list one day. We’re optimistic.