Last week it was EMC’s Documentum group taking on SharePoint and this week it’s Alfresco, interesting not just because both Documentum and Alfresco were founded by the same person. I had the chance to speak with that person, John Newton, this morning about Alfresco Labs 3.0 (Labs is the new name for Alfresco Community, which is the unsupported, uncertified version of Alfresco’s open source ECM software).
Alfresco has been positioning itself as the open source alternative to SharePoint for awhile and this announcement puts more wood behind that marketing arrow (Alfresco is undeniably good at marketing).
By working with the documented server protocols that Microsoft made available after its tangle with the EU, Alfresco built interoperability with the Microsoft Office desktop apps and with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server to make Alfresco a more viable replacement for SharePoint or to make it easier for the two to co-exist. The most useful part of this will be the ability for end-users to work with an Alfresco repository via Office apps in the same way they work with SharePoint.
As is generally the case in ECM, SharePoint and Alfresco aren’t apples-to-apples in all senses and Alfresco isn’t necessarily attempting to replicate all the search, business intelligence and portal pieces of SharePoint just yet. But this definitely provides an alternative for those organizations looking for basic content services a la SharePoint in a non-Microsoft or mixed server OS, database and browser environments.