451 Research: As enterprise ERP ages, xTuple thrives on mobile-desktop integration

By Jay Layman

Open source ERP vendor xTuple says it continues to grow and build technology and business from its ongoing integration of mobile and desktop ERP capabilities. While its enterprise ERP market is characterized mainly by consolidation and well-established vendors, xTuple's newer approach to ERP centers on integration of its mobile and desktop clients, aided by the software's open source nature and API that eases integration, compatibility and customization with other software. This has helped xTuple grow its large customers, which include enterprises in manufacturing and distribution that are enabling their workers with mobile ERP capability. Headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, xTuple has 40 employees.

The 451 Take

Enterprise ERP still isn't sexy, but xTuple makes things more interesting by expanding its open source ERP software from desktop to mobile, maintaining integration of the two, as features and functionality make their way to mobile devices and workers. While xTuple has typically served as a less-expensive, lighter-weight, more modern ERP alternative to larger and older suites, the company is now appealing to customers with its mobile integration and capabilities, which continue to grow. The tight integration and compatibility with its desktop ERP also makes xTuple appealing to large enterprises that must meet demands for both older, more complex desktops, and newer mobile ERP.


Consistent with our research and discussions with both vendors and end users, xTuple says that although ERP isn't the hottest topic among CIOs concerned with cloud computing, devops and automation, it is often where the old way and the new way of doing things collide. Thus, xTuple says, its customers' environments are typically a mix of older, legacy infrastructure and process, and newer, more innovative technology and process. Although ERP may not be top of mind to enterprise technology leaders, it remains a mission-critical function of success, particularly given the value of customer and transaction data and mobile access to it.

xTuple says the fact that its products are open source continues to be a major differentiator, given popular open source components are part of its software. This includes PostgreSQL database, Qt-built desktop client, node.js application server and other components. The company says these represent vibrant open source communities that keep its offerings innovative with technology, such as xTuple's mobile client capabilities that are integrated with the desktop version.


xTuple offers a number of products, all built around its core xTuple PostBooks accounting, CRM and ERP software suite, which is also offered for free as an open source download and as a stand-alone product with support. xTuple says PostBooks is a good balance of power and functionality, along with flexibility, to suit a number of different industries. The company also offers xTuple Distribution Edition, which is an integrated, end-to-end software system for users that have more complex inventory control and other needs, including those in distribution and light manufacturing.

The company offers xTuple Manufacturing Edition, intended for make-to-order, make-to-stock and mixed-mode manufacturers, and xTuple Enterprise with additional enterprise features and capabilities. Pricing for xTuple's offerings, which range from about $200 for a monthly cloud license with xTuple PostBooks, to $4,500 for a perpetual license with xTuple Enterprise, is all available on the company's website.

Part of the open source advantage xTuple refers to can be seen in its add-on packages, which can be integrated with the business software suite for specific functionality. These include add-ons for: weight measurement, automated connections to other systems such as IMAP email server, commission packages for sales reps and managers, advanced budget and financial reporting, eCommerce and wholesale distribution.

For its mobile client, xTuple is continuing to migrate features from its desktop suite, which launched last year with a CRM module. From there, xTuple has worked with its customers' sales forces to find out what is most needed and effective, which turned out to be inventory-focused. The company also says a lot of the mobile xTuple development has focused on customer demand for sales-order management and inventory capabilities, such as wireless barcode scanning.

With more desktop features and functionality moving to xTuple's mobile software, the company says it is dedicated to making the mobile client fully interoperable with the desktop suite. The work is indicative of how mobile devices and functionality are expanding what people can do, according to xTuple, which cites real-time information, speed and reduced errors as advantages.

Customers and partners

xTuple says it continues to gain customers, including large enterprises, in manufacturing and distribution. In addition to its core market in North America, the company has significant deployments in Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, China and the Philippines. xTuple reports approximately 400 paying customers.

The company is also growing its number and types of reseller partners, driven by its REST-based API and integration. In eCommerce, for example, xTuple has invested in its technology and product by integrating the popular Drupal CMS commerce module, overhauling its Web store and partnering with Drupal experts. xTuple’s API has led to integrations with other open source business software, such as OrangeHRM and TimeTrex, a time-tracking and payroll application.


The most direct competition for xTuple continues to be the larger, traditional vendors of business-software suites such as Sage, Epicor Software, Infor, Intuit, Microsoft, SAP. Oracle has made significant acquisitions in the space, including Eloqua and Responsys. Fellow open source competitors for xTuple include Openbravo and OpenERP, although the company says it rarely encounters these vendors, not to the same degree as its larger, traditional foes.

SWOT Analysis


xTuple’s software, which integrates with add-ons and other software and systems, is still differentiated by the fact that it is open source — in contrast to most traditional business-software suites that are proprietary.


Despite its own growth, and larger enterprise customers, xTuple is less familiar to leadership compared to bigger traditional rivals in a number of industries.


As it integrates with business, systems and other software, xTuple stands to grow its revenue and footprint with existing and new customers.


Competition with a long list of larger vendors and their partners is still among xTuple's biggest challenges.


451 Analyst: Jay Lyman

Reprinted with permission from 451 Research