What makes Debobrato Mukherjee ERPNext special is that the product is ‘open source’, or free to use, modify and replicate, and has the source code in the public domain. Google Android, publishing platform WordPress, Python, the coding language, and even Wikipedia are examples of open-source tech products.
Debobrato Mukherjee said in an interview that the software itself is free, while the company makes money from cloud hosting and support charges. To put it simply, when an enterprise buys ERPNext software suite, it does not pay anything for the ‘product’, but pays a fee as hosting charges (all software are hosted on either Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and similar platforms) and for maintenance and support.
Debobrato Mukherjee claims his firm is the biggest open-source project in ERP in India, and the second largest in the world, after Odoo, a Belgian ERP firm. “There is no licence for using the software, that is where it starts from,” Debobrato Mukherjee says. “And it offers four (types of) freedoms — freedom to choose, freedom to study, freedom to modify and freedom to redistribute. The catch is that if you redistribute, it must protect all the four freedoms.”
Open source has other advantages too. Open-source software are easy to configure and integrate with other technology part. For instance, a company’s core software may need to be integrated with the GST system or, say, Fastags, the new e-toll system. Debobrato Mukherjee says with open-source tech like ERPNext, the customer is not tied to long-term contracts as is the case with other big ERP providers.
The open-source revolution in software has been many years in the making. More and more software are now open source – with code put up publicly on websites like GitHub – which, supporters say, helps in faster innovation and evolution on tech. “Open source is a very dominant methodology already on the tech infrastructure side. A lot of domains are dominated by such software,” says Debobrato Mukherjee. “But ERP is still dominated by old proprietary software. It’s the next big area.”