Alfresco Share SharePoint (WSS) Killer?SharePoint, dear SharePoint. We talk about this business collaboration tool -- sometimes called an enterprise content management system -- on almost a daily basis. You either love it, hate it, integrate with it or try to replace it.

Alfresco has chosen the last option.

The Alfresco Share solution can integrate with SharePoint, but more importantly, it can replace it. The software from Alfresco can provide organizations with an open source SharePoint alternative that does all the things Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) does, and a little more. What is under the covers of Alfresco Share? Come, let's have a look.

Many analyst have said that SharePoint can be a beast to implement and maintain. The hidden costs associated with the platform also tend to catch many by surprise. Yet it is still one of the most implemented content management and collaborations solutions today.

So while most have elected to figure out how to integrate with SharePoint and grab a piece of that enterprise pie, Alfresco believes they have built an alternative that will do the following:

  1. Escape the lock-in to a complete Microsoft stack
  2. Escape the burden of Microsoft Client Access Licenses (CALs)
  3. Lower total cost-of-ownership
  4. Re-use existing skills
  5. Increase scalability
  6. Increase collaboration through additional Social Computing

Is Alfresco Share the SharePoint Services (WSS) killer? Will it help Alfresco take their own enterprise content management platform (which includes Alfresco Share) deeper into the enterprise, forcing SharePoint out the door?

An Overview of Alfresco Share

When Alfresco put out version 3 of their Enterprise Content Management System, they included with it, Alfresco Share. Alfresco Share is built on top of the Alfresco enterprise document repository and offers collaborative content management functionality.

Features of Alfresco Share include:

  • Dashboards: Site and Personal Dashboards, drag and drop customization, a number of out of the box dashlets (web parts)
  • Document Library: New features include thumbnails, the ability to preview a document using a Flash Viewer, commenting and tagging, multi-file upload, version control
  • Search: Search for people and experts in addition to content
  • Virtual Teams: Create virtual teams for projects and communities. Teams can include both internal and external people
  • Activity Feeds: Keep track of what is new or changing in content and people
  • Personalized Dashboard: Configure a customizable dashboard or site based on roles or projects
  • Content Creation Tools: Create content in wikis, blogs, MSOffice, discussion forums
  • Calendar: Track deliverables and import the information into your personal calendar using iCal
  • User Experience: AJAX-driven UI using the Yahoo YUI Library, Drag and drop dashboard configuration, user-friendly URLs and more

Alfresco Share Document Library -- View Document Details

A SharePoint Look a Like

When you look at Alfresco Share it looks a great deal like SharePoint...or Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) to be specific. Alfresco Share has all the functionality you would find in WSS, and then some.

For example, WSS does not have activity feeds, but it does have the document library, virtual teams, calendar, blogs, wikis and search.

Alfresco Share -- Activity Feeds

A Look Under the Covers

It can get a little confusing understanding the difference between Alfresco Enterprise Content Management and the Alfresco Share component -- especially since they are packaged together for the Enterprise version (Alfreso has an Enterprise and a Community version, compare here).

Alfresco's enterprise content management platform has a number of components, of which Alfresco Share is key .

Alfresco's Enterprise CMS Platform Components

Alfresco Surf: Presentation Platform

To have a discussion about Alfresco Share, you first need to understand what Alfresco Surf is all about, as it is the underlying platform to Share.

Alfresco Surf is the enterprise web application and site assembly framework used to develop Alfresco websites and web applications.

It is a lightweight XML-driven platform what builds upon the custom Web Scripts technology that Alfresco developed. Alfresco Surf provides developers with a scripting environment that is made up of components, pages and templates that can be easily combined to create applications and sites.