Alfresco Software, a developer of open source enterprise content management software, has launched a bundled of its product with other tools and services to create what it said is “the first open source social computing platform for the enterprise.”
The Alfresco Social Computing Platform features the Maidenhead, UK-based ISV’s Alfresco ECM with Web 2.0 tools and services such as MediaWiki; TypePad and WordPress (two blogging packages); Adobe Flex (development tools for Rich Internet Apps based on Adobe Flash); and iGoogle (personalized page creation for access to predefined information of interest from Google).
The company said the features the overall stack is designed to enable are social collaboration, integrating the outside-in and inside-out with wikis, blogs, and RSS readers, rich mashups, and above all, choice of OS, database, app server, portal, content creation tools, collaboration, and social networking tools unlike products such as SharePoint.
Alfresco CMO Ian Howells said: The Open Source Barometer we publish every six months, based on information from people signing up to our developer community, indicates that people want a mixed stack of open source and regular commercial products. They may be running Windows, Oracle, and Alfresco, for instance. We also find that they will often evaluate differently from how they deploy, so they may eval on Windows and deploy on Linux.
Howells said that in most enterprises only 5% to 10% of users have ECM, with the rest relying on shared drive and email. With this in mind, he said, we first ECM-enabled shared drive, the Microsoft Office, and then enabled forms and Office to publish to a web site, and now we’re enabling them to publish in the same way to a blog or to Facebook.
With Microsoft now referring to SharePoint as social computing, he said Alfresco thought why not package the leading open-source tools to create a social computing platform?
Alfresco was founded in 2005 by John Newton, a co-founder of ECM vendor Documentum, and John Powell, who had been COO of Business Objects. The product was launched in October 2005, designed from the outset to provide enterprise-grade, open-source content management, as distinct from more low-end, web-focused projects such as Plone, OpenCMS, and Joomla.
The project was based on the observation that open source is about commoditizing a given segment of the software industry, and that at every level of the open source stack, one product has typically dominated: Linux in operating systems, MySQL in databases, JBoss in app servers, Tomcat for web servers, and SugarCRM in CRM, with the exception in reporting, where there are Jasper and Pentaho. The idea, therefore, was to be that dominant player in content management with an enterprise-grade product.
Alfresco offers two versions of its product: Community, which is free and has broader functionality, with a daily build, and Enterprise, which is the paid-for edition that comes with extra bug fixed and support. It adopts the GNU General Public License, or GPL model, where the Community edition can be downloaded and freely used, but any changes made must be contributed back to the community, and if it is embedded in another product, any code touching it must also be contributed.
While this represents a commercial constraint, it is overcome by offering OEM licenses, which Howells said remove the GPL license. The two other licensing models in open source are Mozilla Public License, where a product is free to use but there must be attribution of the technology to the original supplier by reproducing their logo say, and Lesser GPL, or LGPL, which is a more file-based approach than GPL and means, as Howells put it, if you can separate it out, you can resell it.
The Social Computing Platform is already undergoing extensions. On Monday when it was announced, the company unveiled iGoogle access, enabled through what it called Alfresco Enterprise Google Gadgets for ECM, which it said lets business users manage, create and edit enterprise content with traditional enterprise control from within their iGoogle homepage.
Yesterday it announced an integrated Red Hat/Alfresco Collaboration Solution for SMBs, delivering the Social Computing Platform via the JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform and selling it exclusively on Red Hat Exchange, the online marketplace the Linux distribution launched in March to sell third-party products.