Alfresco 3.1 offers parity with enterprise rivals

Alfresco's open source enterprise content management system is now fully enterprise ready, and the timing couldn't be better, exes say.Alfresco 3.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

Alfresco's open source enterprise content management system is now fully enterprise ready, and the timing couldn't be better, exes say.

Alfresco 3.1, which was released today, has reached parity with and in some ways exceeds leading document management platforms such as Documentum and Filenet and leading web content platforms, says Matt Asay, vice president of business development for the four-year-old company, who also writes a blog for CNET. The latest release offers easier clustering, high availability, advanced system monitoring and improved SharePoint support.

"We've been getting there," Asay said about making the platform ready to compete against leadeing offerings feature by feature. 'Now we're a serious ontender with every proprietary system on the market at 10 percent of the price."

Enhaned clustering makes Alfresco much easier to scale than proprietary solutions and more scalable and available than web content offering such as Micrsoft's popular SharePoint. At the same time, version 3.1 support more Sharepoint protocols, making it possible for Offie users to save directly and seamlessly to Alfresco as the underlying layer.

This is how Alfresco identified its virtues:

"Alfresco Enterprise 3.1 delivers greater scalability, high-availability and large-scale management. This release includes features that simplify administration, monitoring, deployment as well as maintenance and will be available exclusively to enterprise subscription customers.

New features, in addition to those from the Alfresco Labs 3 final release, include:

Easy Clustering and High-Availability – Simple large-scale multi-server management allowing customers to set up clusters and high-availability environments in a matter of minutes; System Monitoring – Advanced JMX-based monitoring that includes simple access to database connection and memory usage information, as well as integration to industry-leading and open source monitoring tools such as Hyperic; Deployment and Provisioning Automation – Command line-driven configuration providing automated deployment and provisioning; Extensions to Alfresco Share – Extensions to the new popular collaborative content management application. Improved online viewing of documents, easier online editing, improved Wiki contribution, new themes and skins; Improved SharePoint Protocol Support – Improved implementation of collaboration, site and link features in Microsoft Office; and, Extended CMIS Support – Expanded implementations of the web services implementations of the draft OASIS CMIS 0.51 standard.

Seems the code was finished just in time. Alfresco has been nailing more enterprise deals as the recession ensues, inluding one with a large European media company and another with the U.S. government.

Asay reports that customers are now ripping and replacing proprietary solutions with open source solutions to save millions. In the past, open source was typically used for additive projects but now customers want to save big. In some cases, the cost of the full rip and replace and new open source deployment is less than the annual subscription fee of the proprietary vendor, Asay claims

One former prospect -- a large financial services company in the U.S. (that's alive and well) -- recently contacted Alfreso and gave them the green light. Two years ago, the same customer perceived using open source as too risky, Asay said. Now, the same customer says it's too risky to stay with the proprietary solution. "Anybody not considering an open source solution is in a struggle," Asay said. "They have the option to save tons of money on the same or better functionality."

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