Alfresco Extends Content Management To The Web

The year-old company, which claims 400,000 downloads of its ECM software, builds its wares atop components such as Oracle and MySQL databases, the Hibernate JBoss object/relational mapping software and Tomcat application server. Users can swap in whichever of those standards-based stack components they already use.

The beauty of this open-source Web content management, as well as the larger ECM suite, is that the $10,000-per-year, per-CPU maintenance price is so much less expensive than legacy systems that integrators and VARs can built more cost-effective solutions for less money, said Ian Howells, chief marketing officer for London-based Alfresco.

"There is a real opportunity here for solution providers," Howells said.

Jeff Potts, senior architect for Optaros, a Boston-based integration partner, agreed. Instead of spending around a million dollars on license fees, customers can use open-source content management and spend a fraction of that on software and then invest the savings in customization, bringing them much closer to a system they would actually use, he said.

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The integration of Alfresco 1.4 with JBoss' business process management produces a very robust workflow, according to Potts. "Where before you could do simple rules when someone drops content into a folder, with BPM integration you can do almost anything," he said, adding that Alfresco's use of standard building blocks eases integration into an overall solution.

"We're seeing customers going from simple shared files and replacing that with straightforward document management," Potts noted.

He also was impressed with the news that Alfresco is integrating its ECM with Kofax information capture. "It shows me how aggressive they were about building an enterprise offering and making it open source," he said. "When I see things like that, I realize these guys are serious."

ECM has been a hot spot for years now, with merger-and-acquisition activity culminating in IBM's purchase of FileNet earlier this year. Storage kingpin EMC bought Documentum last year. Documentum, a content management leader, had already bought eRoom, a collaboration application by that time.