How SparkFun Electronics Built Their Open Hardware Business

Christopher Clark | | September 18, 2012

At SparkFun Electronics we do not sell software, yet we have a robust software development team. These developers spend some of their time on, an eCommerce platform with extra content and integrated community elements. The vast majority of their time, however, is spent on Sparkle.

One might call Sparkle a web-based ERP system. It's the other view atop the same databases underlying but with sprawling internal subsystems that do everything including basic customer service, running the shipping warehouse, and running the manufacturing floor.

Sparkle, and the systems running it, take great advantage of free open source software. PHP is the core language. Nginx is the core webserver with Varnish for caching. Everything runs on Debian Linux and the data lives in MariaDB (MySQL's more open cousin) and MongoDB for the non-relational stuff. And caching happens with Memcached and Redis. On the client side, libraries like jQuery, D3, and Bootstrap are ubiquitous. Internally, systems side tools like Munin, Nagios, Samba, Puppet, and Capistrano (to name just a few) keep the lights on.