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With New Alfresco App, Enterprise Content Management Takes the OSS Road

With New Alfresco App, Enterprise Content Management Takes the OSS Road

Alfresco Labs 3 is a new open source alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint enterprise content management software. To ensure compatibility, Alfresco said, the platform uses the SharePoint protocol, an item Microsoft made available following a 2004 European Union antitrust decision.

Alfresco Software announced Thursday the availability of Alfresco Labs version 3, an open source alternative to Microsoft's enterprise content management (ECM) software SharePoint.

Formerly called "Alfresco Community," Alfresco Labs 3 offers users the first open source fully compatible SharePoint repository. With Alfresco Labs 3, companies can leverage existing investments in Linux, Java as well as .NET to significantly reduce their SharePoint total cost of ownership and maximize their hardware and software investments, according to Alfresco.

"This product upgrade is a good example of how we are using judo against much larger and more established players in the market. We are attacking one of the last Microsoft strangle holds," John Powell, CEO of Alfresco, told LinuxInsider.

Product Highlights

The Alfresco Labs 3 repository offers three main features. First, it supports the Microsoft SharePoint protocol. Second, it does not require client installation. Third, it is a highly scalable ECM platform. The repository has been independently tested with over 100 million documents, according to the company.

The Alfresco Labs' version 3 is designed to be a research community lab for new features, enabling developers to access a nightly build with the latest functionality, noted Powell.

Blurring the Lines

Alfresco sees this release as a cost-cutting measure that provides all the functionality of SharePoint. The shift in how information and content is shared and created is forcing enterprises to blur the lines between enterprise content management (ECM) and social software.

The development's aim is to allow enterprise employees to access content everywhere, not just in large, monolithic applications. ECM software is commonly used in Fortune 1,000 companies, but it's only seen in about 5 to 10 percent of smaller enterprises, Powell said.

Workers in these smaller environments prefer to use shared file drives or e-mail. As a result, products that offer basic content services like Alfresco Software and SharePoint position themselves to fill this gap, according to Powell.

Microsoft Compatibility

Alfresco's latest release leverages the growing use of Microsoft SharePoint in the ECM market. It addresses a demand for an open alternative that is compatible with Microsoft.

"Alfresco Labs 3 is the first product to implement the SharePoint protocol and provides the same ease-of-use of SharePoint while giving companies the freedom of choice in their hardware, database, operating system, application server and portal products," said John Newton, CTO of Alfresco Software.

Alfresco Labs users get a content management and collaboration tool that is integrated with Microsoft SharePoint and Office. It lowers overall IT costs and increases return on existing investments, he said.

Posturing Protocols

The added functionality in Alfresco Labs 3 reflects a major engineering effort for the company, noted Powell. It provides a new level of social computing functionality.

The SharePoint emulation was a small yet critical part of the overall product upgrade, Powell said.

"Microsoft provided much better documentation due to the demands of the European Union," he said. "It gives users options for a complete alternative system."

Microsoft released the SharePoint protocol as part of its compliance with the EU's antitrust decision of March 24, 2004. Alfresco also is the first ECM system to implement the Microsoft Office protocols as a compatible server, said Newton.


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