The former co-founder of Documentum hopes to break new ground by applying lessons learned in commercial ECM (enterprise content management) to open source software.
John Newton, CTO and chairman of Alfresco, acknowledges that tackling content management with open source technology is nothing new. And yet, Newton points out, most of the open source offerings available today target Web content. Seeing this opportunity, Newton spent several months building a developer community around an open source platform for ECM that Alfresco will release next month.
“For enterprises, the whole notion of [content] reuse is vital. [You] don’t see reuse in the open source Web content management. Where people are starting to use Alfresco is where there is a high level of reuse,” Newton said.
The Alfresco platform, based on Java and built with aspect-oriented programming, looks and acts similar to a shared drive. The repository’s functionality includes workflow, metadata support, hierarchical folder structure, and indexing and retrieval.
Alfresco is the first major open source effort trying to tackle document management directly, said Tony Byrne, analyst and founder of CMSWatch.com.
Although Alfresco has labeled its product an ECM package, “it is initially targeting very simple document-collaboration scenarios of the type that SharePoint has addressed so successfully,” Byrne said. “I think it is smart to target the simpler and more ubiquitous use cases, and SharePoint has had no real other analogue in the Java world.”