Alfresco Software is an open-source content management system. Today it is announcing significant upgrades to its platform. Arguably most noteworthy is its integration with Spring, the Java-based platform for application development owned by VMware, formerly known as SpringSource.
Spring, as it is now called, is one of the hottest platforms in the enterprise market, fueling already strong growth in the market for app development.
Alfresco's integration with Spring is indicative of a trend that points to challenges for Sharepoint 2010. The platform is already expensive enough, requiring server upgrades and a mandatory investment in 64-bit architecture. It has the capability for third-party integration but that is far different than the ease of use that an open-system CMS like Alfresco provides.
Increasingly, the need is to get content to the Web without IT or a Web team doing it for the marketer who lacks the technical capabilities to move content out to external sites. Sharepoint still requires heavy involvement from IT. Content updates to Web apps through Spring allows for a seamless integration in Alfresco that Sharepoint does not provide.
The question becomes: What will the enterprise do? It seems to mean that companies like Alfresco have an opportunity to tap into a market that the Web is disrupting in a significant way. More content is flowing out of Intranets to the Web. And companies need better ways to get that content out there.
According to a survey from Global360, about 80% of Sharepoint 2010 deployments are sill based on Sharepoint 2007. Further, only 8% of those surveyed have already deployed Sharepoint 2010.
We are quite skeptical of vendor surveys and this one by Global360 is not much different. But Global360 is not a competitor to Sharepoint. Instead, the company does Sharepoint consulting.
Ray Wang, analyst with the Altimeter Group, says it is still early to tell how Sharepoint 2010 is being adopted. People use Sharepoint in a variety of ways. It is the dominant Intranet platform. He says that a lot depends on license renewal cycles. To move away from Sharepoint means a strategic change and a move to a different infrastructure.
Alfresco, in contrast, has grown significantly in recent years. It has surpassed the two million download mark. Worldwide it has 75,000 deployments.
The end-to-end content management environment provides marketers with the ability to update Web apps even after they have been deployed. For example, if new images need to be added to an app, the marketing department can use Alfresco to update it without the involvement of the Web development team.
For geeks it may seem odd but most marketers still use Microsoft Word to write a press release. The release is then sent to the Web development team, which then posts it.
A core component of Alfresco is its full integration with the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS). CMIS is a standard for interoperability with enterprise content management systems. Microsoft, IBM, OpenText, Oracle and SAP are all participants in CMIS.
It's the CMIS integration that provides Alfresco with ease-of-use that makes it possible to take content from an ECM and port it to the Web and online app environments. That's increasingly important as more companies are leveraging the Web and apps to tell their story. Content that once resided on the Intranet is now also going online to external sites.
It's CMIS that gives marketers a real chance to be important change agents in the enterprise. For years, marketers have been handicapped by relying on the Web teams and IT to post content to sites outside the walls of the enterprise. It's CMIS with environments like Alfresco that gives marketing new ways to tell a story in a Web dominated world.