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A start-up called iRadeon Group Inc. is offering a new service that integrates three different open source applications through a dashboard-type interface for PC users. It's a software delivery model that could prove attractive to cost-conscious small businesses.
There aren't many open source applications available, and iRadeon makes use of one of the more recognized ones, SugarCRM from the SugarCRM project on SourceForge. The other two apps are online course composition through the Atutor open source software, and project management through the NetOffice open source application. The service competes with online customer-relationship management from Siebel Systems, Oracle or Salesforce.com, says an iRadeon customer, Lou Lesko, CEO of Blinkbid, a small, Los Angeles developer of estimating and invoicing software for professional photographers.
With its sales representatives scattered in different cities, Blinkbid needed CRM services and attempted to obtain them from Salesforce.com. "They wouldn't return our E-mails or phone calls. So we went looking for a friendlier company," Lesko says. He says the low initial cost of iRadeon's open source, online service along with its maintenance free operation was the right solution for him. "The fact that they utilize open source gave them a distinct advantage in pricing," he says. And the SugarCRM and NetOffice project management applications "have been integral in moving us forward" as a company without a full time IT staff, Lesko says.
Both applications appear to Blinkbid users as a dashboard, accessible through a browser, that lists tasks that need to be done or contacts that need to be made. Clicking on an item in the dashboard takes you deeper into the application behind it. "It's two applications, with a view of both in one interface," he says.
Jeff Minich, iRadeon VP for strategy, says the online open source service is priced at $6 per use per month. The dashboard version of the service became available at the end of November and iRadeon expects to add more open source applications as they become available.
Blinkbid pays $19.95 a month for five users, said Lesko. Salesforce.com's entry level pricing is $65 a month for five users, according to information posted on its Web site.
iRadeon was established in 1999 in Roseville, Calif., outside the state capital, Sacramento. One of its more notable customers is the California state government; it provides IT consulting services to the California Public Employee Retirement System and the state Department of Mental Health.