Open source solutions and standards are those with an open production and design process, and minimal intellectual property restrictions. They are far preferable to closed methods or proprietary frameworks because of their dynamic nature. Open Source Software (OSS) is becoming an increasingly significant factor in IT, because the OSS development community is energetic, widespread, and self-motivated. The best OSS projects, like Linux, are used worldwide by governments and large corporations, as well as small businesses and non-profits.
Allora develops, uses, and supports several OSS projects, for hosting websites and email, groupware, content management systems, and even office applications. But whereas those are tools, our goal is to carry the essential spirit of openness into our general business practices. We believe that we are doing a service to the community by openly publishing our ideas, methods, rates and opinions. We also believe that, by doing so, we establish our credibility as IT consultants and as the best service provider for our own ideas. Thus we hope to enrich ourselves through sharing with others ~ the essence of the open economy.
When it comes to the perspective of a bussiness owner or a director of a non-profit organization the most improtant difference between Open Source software and commercial products like Apple or Microsoft lies in its flexibility and support opion:
- Open Source products are 100% customizable, if there's something you don't like, if you need to extend some functionality - there are options to make it happen. It's not the case with commercial software what-so-ever. There everyone is at the mercy of a limited group of developers. You can only customize what you've been allowed to tweak which is a very, very restricted area
- Popular Open Source solutions have a huge army of supporters. Free forums where one can find pre-cooked answer to various questions explored previously by others as well as an option to post your questions, requests, troubleshooting puzzles and get direct support from developers or advanced users
Of course Allora's prime bread and butter in the Open Source world is Joomla and its amazing pool of extensions. Let us name a few projects involving Open Source development:
- http://usdlc.org - driven by Joomla and CiviCRM this web-portal was built to integrate with a proprietary system of online courses and evaluations for teachers, primer example how Open Source can a non-profit organization without millions of dollars to spare
- http://counterculturecoffee.com - driven by Joomla and VirtueMart: leading open source solution for eCommerce. Allora helped Counter Culture Coffee customize the shopping experience and integrate seemingly with their shipping facility on the backend. The project was greatly simplified by an enthusiast who took some time to code and share an extension for VirtueMart that was adapted for our needs and fit very well
- http://archrespite.org/respitelocator - online database of Respite Programs throughout USA and Canada. Driven by Joomla and CiviCRM this webportal provides information on almost six thousands providers each characterized by ~50 parameters. Thank to Open Source we were able to inject pages refelcting information specific to each state as well as alter the default looks and options of displaying the information
- At last we'd mention AlloraNET - our extranet system for time tracking, project estimates and communicating with our clients driven by a german Phprojekt Open Source solution