John Newton was one of the founders of ECM pioneer Documentum (now owned by EMC). So what’s he doing as CTO of Alfresco, a relatively new open source ECM in direct competition with SharePoint? And why is he calling his product ’the Ryanair of ECM’?
“We’re providing an alternative to the consolidating market,” he explains. “As in the airline industry, older vendors plateau and consolidate, opening up opportunities for value players like Ryanair or easyJet. SharePoint and Alfresco are value plays in the collaborative content market, and open source is the only thing that can compete with SharePoint.”
It has certainly done that.
Powerful and scalable enough to run on very large systems requiring greater capacity than SharePoint can offer, large web implementations have been conducted by companies such as games-maker Activision.
“SharePoint has a limit of 50 million documents on its index,”
“We benchmarked 100 million documents, and there’s nothing to stop us going higher other than time and disk space.”
As with Linux, Alfresco is doing extremely well in developing economies, especially
“Open source also allows us to innovate two to three times faster,” he says. “In one example, Islington Council added calendar and collaboration features, while a group of Californian developers built a Flex interface.”
Contrary to the perception of open source as insecure, according to
“Open source is far more secure [than propriety software] since you can see exactly what it’s doing in there. Everything else, you have no idea.”
Another key distinction is that, unlike traditional ECM implementations made through a top-down procurement process, Alfresco tends to be a grassroots adoption.
Related to this is the consumer-as-end-user trend that is increasingly evident in enterprise software. This is a trend in which Alfresco’s ECM-as-social-networking approach is already paying dividends.