[Linux-aus] Small business open source stack- CMS, DMS & Groupware

Tim Bowden tim.bowden at westnet.com.au
Fri Aug 20 15:14:26 EST 2010

Following on from the DMS thread, I've got the following use case:

A small financial services business that could use a decent email or
groupware system (probably Zimbra), a new client database (they've got
one but it's captured in some proprietary software and it won't talk to
anything else), existing shared "clients" folder where they copy a
skeleton structure over every time they create a new client folder.
They have several thousand client folders, with about 60k+ files in

I'm tentatively looking at Zimbra, Alfresco and maybe SugarCRM.

The main functions I'm looking for (not yet having done a formal scope)

* Shared calendars and to do lists (ie, Zimbra bread and butter stuff).

* Client database that can be hooked up to some future public facing web
app (ie, something that's not locked up in a proprietary app I can't get
to the guts of).

* Export client data to applications that need it, ie risk (insurance)
and investment/superannuation strategy analysis tools (those apps love
to keep their own internal client database and assume you will never use
a competitors tool, or want to do anything with your client database
other than what they offer. <rolls eyes>

* The clients folder is slowly becoming unmanageable because of its size
and the inability to easily model relationships between clients.  So far
it's at the familiar old pain stage (ie, they're living with it despite
the shortcomings), but its only going to get worse.  I'd like to be able
to present the client list (either as folders on the file system or on a
web page etc) by active status, recent activity, work pending or various
other metadata criteria, which is where the DMS comes in.

* Integration between the mail system and DMS such that emails to or
from clients will appear from either application (which is where I'm
hoping the integration between Zimbra and Alfresco will work)

* Client status (active, review, archive, recent, new etc) is set common
to both the CRM & DMS apps, ie if the client status is set to review in
the CRM app, then the client "folder" (and all contained docs?) will
have the 'review' metadata tag attached.  I'm sceptical this can easily
be done between SugarCRM & Alfresco.  I haven't looked at Sugar at all
yet, and I've only just started exploring Alfresco so far.

I've got two reservations about SugarCRM.  Firstly, I'm disappointed
SugarCRM can only use MySQL and not PostgreSQL (my preferred database,
not least because of the PostGIS spatial extensions).  <sigh>  It seems
such a waste having to run two separate db engines on the one box, and I
don't much like the idea of giving up PostgreSQL.

Secondly, I'm concerned it may be overkill for a small outfit, and lead
to more confusion than it solves if it offers too much they don't want.
I'd really prefer to avoid writing something custom though.  The more
"off the shelf" the better.

What stack would people recommend considering in that situation?
Whatever solution I end up with, I'd like to try and roll it out to more
than one client with hopefully only fairly minor customisation in each

Tim Bowden

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