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Great Software Doesn't Need To Cost A Lot Of Money - Part 2
by Jonathan Stoddard

Last week I explained why open source and SaaS provide a great value for small businesses. This week I am listing some of the best free software that is available for small businesses. You can access a more complete list of some great free options at http://www.ktgdenver.com/tech-adviser-newsletter-preview

Some great open source and Software as a Service (SaaS) options for your business.

Email and Calendar: Google Applications (www.google.com/a/)

Hands down, this is the best email option for small businesses. I use Google Applications for my company and am still very pleased with it. Google will give you up to 100 email addresses on your business domain name for free. Each user will get around 7 gigabytes of online email storage, as well as excellent spam filtering.

Additionally, users have access to multiple shared calendars that many people think beats Microsoft Outlook in functionality. If you need to use Outlook, Google Applications will interface with it. If you ever consider upgrading from your current email system, Google Applications is the best option. Google also has a premium edition that adds a few more features, but you will have to pay for it.

Productivity Suite: Zoho.com (http://www.zoho.com/)

This company offers a little bit of everything. From email, to customer relationship management to database creation. While Zoho will charge you for some applications, they offer many applications free for a limited number of users. This is a great option for companies with just a few employees because it gives you an integrated email and CRM system for free. Additionally, Zoho is software as a service which means you donapostrophet have to worry about installing any software.

Customer Relationship Management: SugarCRM (http://www.sugarcrm.com/)

This is a full-featured customer relationship management product that rivals the functionality of more expensive options. The software is web based so it caters to having multiple users who need to access the information. SugarCRM will interface with many email systems to automatically archive emails sent to or from your important contacts. You can also automate tasks and customize the information you track. This software is well supported and offers many add-ons that provide additional functionality.

Document Management: Alfresco (http://www.alfresco.com/)

Alfresco allows you to capture, retain and share your content. Alfresco supports all kinds of content, but I like its powerful document management package. With Alfresco you donapostrophet have to worry about accidentally overwriting someoneapostrophes changes to a document because all versions of a document are archived. This software is also makes it easy to share documents, yet control access to them.

Alfresco integrates with Microsoft Office and works just like your shared drive (but with many more features). Alfresco is a great way to move towards a paperless office and stay organized. Consider Alfresco as an alternative to Microsoft Share Point.

Corporate Firewall and Virtual Private Network: Smoothwall (http://www.smoothwall.org/)

Smoothwall provides a very secure office firewall and protection from intruders. It also allows you to control internet access internally, monitor your bandwidth and give certain applications, like VoIP phones, priority. What really makes Smoothwall stand out is the option to create a Virtual Private Network. With Smoothwall you can access all electronic resources like printers, files servers and email remotely as long as you have Internet access.

Conclusion

There are many great open source and SaaS options for small businesses. Before spending money on software it would be worthwhile to research some of the open source and SaaS alternatives. There are many excellent resources online that can help you search for alternatives to traditional software. And donapostrophet forget your local IT consultant who specializes in open source software. He might be a little harder to find than a Microsoft Consultant, but he can be a valuable resource in helping you save money on software costs.

About the author:

Jonathan Stoddard is the president of the Kahuna Technology Group. KTG helps small businesses use technology to further business goals. Each month Jonathan provides practical technology advice through his newsletter to small business owners. Sign up for this newsletter at www.ktgdenver.com/newsletter Learn more about KTG at http://www.ktgdenver.com/

Contact Jonathan Stoddard Phone: 720.251.8177 Email: info@ktgdenver.com