Alfresco’s Latest ECM: Prying Open a Sector?

John Newton, the chairman and CTO at open source document management firm Alfresco, is no stranger to Enterprise Content Management (ECM). You might even say he helped put the term on the IT map when he
co-founded Documentum, the document management company that EMC later bought.

But that was then. Now, he’s all about Alfresco’s latest Enterprise 2.2 product, and is trying to up the ante in a market sector dominated by proprietary vendors.

“We are building the product to customer requirements, particularly in what they need for developing knowledge worker applications, compliance applications or corporate intranets and internet Web sites,” Newton told “However, this brings us into competitive and winning situations with Filenet, OpenText and EMC on the document management side, Vignette and Interwoven on the WCM (Web Content Management)side, and increasingly Microsoft SharePoint on both.”

Newton argued that the 2.2 Enterprise release represents a major increase in functionality over previous Alfresco releases for enterprise Web deployments. Among the new features is the ability to deploy and manage the ECM solution to Web farms. There is also a new previewing ability for development done in development environments such as Java Struts, Ruby on Rails, PHP or .NET.

Additionally, Alfresco is easing ECM management with a new management capability for site templates that enable development of new sites, micro- sites or pages.

“These represent state-of-the art capabilities in managing large, enterprise-scale Web sites,” Newton claimed. “In addition, there are new collaboration features such as the ability to send email directly to the Alfresco repository where it can be shared with others or used to comment on content in the repository through email.”

The Alfresco Enterprise product is the tested and certified version of the ECM solution. Alfresco also develops a community build that shares the same features, though not necessarily inside of the same release nomenclature.

“Our policy is to make all changes available in both Enterprise and Community releases, but not necessarily in the same release platform,”
Newton explained. “For the Enterprise 2.2 release, these are going into a stable, certified stack that has been tested against a number of different stacks, databases and operating systems. In the Community release, these changes have gone into the 3.0 release currently under development but are available from our source code repository or nightly builds.”

The Alfresco Community 3.0 release is expected to be finalized in July of this year.

The 3.0 release cycle itself will extend Alfresco’s social networking and people-oriented capabilities.

“We are introducing the notion of feeds of information that are based upon people you are connected to, rather than just searching and browsing through static structures,” Newton commented.

The next Alfresco release will also include new collaboration capabilities such as social tagging and commenting.

“This definitely taking us in a direction of people-oriented content management where people are at the center of content rather than objects as in most ECM systems.”

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