OpenbravoTwo Microsoft Business Solutions veterans have joined Openbravo, a fast-growing provider of open source enterprise resource planning (ERP) and point of sale (POS) software. The moves signal growing momentum for business-centric open source applications. The news also highlights Openbravo's continued investments in its IT channel partners. Here's the scoop.

Openbravo's new board member is Jesper Balser, co-founder and former CEO of Navision. Balser took Navision public in 1999, and Microsoft acquired the company in 2002. After the acquisition, Balser was Head of Global Strategy at Microsoft Business Solutions for 18 months, according to an Openbravo press release.

Meanwhile, Cees Poortman -- another Microsoft and Navision veteran -- joins Openbravo as VP of global commercial operations. He'll be responsible for Openbravo's global partner ecosystem and international subsidiaries. Previously, Poortman was managing director for Navision Netherlands, and director for Microsoft Business Solutions. He was responsible for launching Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur, according to Openbravo.

Admittedly, Microsoft's ERP and CRM (customer relationship management) efforts have yielded mixed results. And quick math suggests Balser left Microsoft somewhere around 2003 or 2004.

Growing Momentum

Still, Openbravo's ability to attract Balser and Poortman to the company speaks volumes about growing momentum for open source applications. Openbravo is ranked number 10 in The Open Source 50, an annual report that tracks the growth and strength of open source partner programs. Roughly 80 percent of Openbravo's revenue comes from partners, up from 50 percent in 2007. The company landed $12.5 million in new funding in May 2008.

Rival open source application providers report similar momentum.  Compiere, which also develops open source ERP software, says its Q4 2008 revenue grew 216 percent compared to Q4 2007. Compiere was ranked number 14 in The Open Source 50 report.

Admittedly, it's difficult to measure the true momentum of Openbravo and other privately held open source companies that aren't required to disclose net income results and other financial metrics. However, the anecdotal evidence above suggests many open source application providers are growing fast.

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