Friday, April 17, 2009 9:00 AM
Open Source ECM following SharePoint’s Cues
This Redmond Developer article on Open Source SharePoint challengers to SharePoint is not so much about how Open Source is competing against SharePoint, but really how Open Source is joining with SharePoint to change the whole ECM landscape. Rather than compete with SharePoint, packages like Alfresco are emulating it and using its momentum to compete against the incumbent players.
Here’s how they are doing it:
- Competing on cost. That’s SharePoint’s strategy – Alfresco’s main market position is Open Source, but they are clearly positioning themselves as low-cost as well.
- Providing a Platform. I’ve said this over and over – SharePoint is a platform for delivering web applications – they happen to provide useful out-of-the-box applications, but the important thing is that you can make your own, and now that SharePoint Designer is free, workflows become much easier to add as well. Alfresco also puts their platform front and center.
- Supporting Office. This is the main reason why SharePoint is so easy for many companies to adopt. Alfresco just announced support for Office integration – according to the Redmond Developer article, Nuxeo has also added it:
”Like Alfresco, it positions itself as a SharePoint Server alternative -- the company has just rolled out the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform 5.2, which adds SharePoint services support. A feature called MS WSS allows developers to implement file-based services, allowing Nuxeo to be seen as a Sharepoint Server via Windows Explorer and Office. "Users can save their documents into Nuxeo as if it were SharePoint," said Nuxeo CEO Eric Barroca.”
This feature is key for any ECM product, which is why we also use it in Vizit Scan-to-SharePoint (which I guess also scans to Alfresco and Nuxeo).
Alfresco and SharePoint are going after the same customers, and I bet that for the most part it shakes out like this: If I have Windows servers and infrastructure and have ASP.NET developers, I go for SharePoint – if I have Linux (or other UNIX) and Java infrastructure (and J2EE developers), I go for Alfresco. The other differences between them don’t make up for this big difference, and rather than competing against each other, they are helping each other by building awareness for low-cost alternatives to the incumbent ECM systems.