A fully fledged ECM platform with a document management centric leaning, Alfresco provides all the features and functionality you would expect from a leading ECM vendor; including all the latest developments in cloud and mobile content management.
An open source licensing model means that as well as signing up for a free account for the cloud offering, or downloading an “enterprise trial” version you can also download and install the “Community Version” on your own servers (be they Windows, Linux or MacOS!). This version does not “expire” after a set time, and is a great advantage when you're evaluating the features, functionality and benefits of a particular solution.
The latest big release is Alfresco One -- the ability to use the exact same platform / configuration setup simultaneously on premises and in the cloud -- a hybrid cloud model that includes a newly released synchronization service, similar to those offered by Box or SalesForce ChatterBox (and Alfresco has a tight integration with SalesForce.Com Sales Cloud, too).
A Difference in Philosophy and Approach
The biggest difference between this particular SharePoint alternative and the Microsoft behemoth itself can be seen in the attitude to the Portal and WCM side of the respective platforms.
Ever since SharePoint 2007, MS has tried to convince us that SP is a robust enough Web CMS for the public web. With improvements in SharePoint 2010 they continued to roll out graphics of user's very pretty (and highly functional) websites (Hawaiian Airlines and HedKandi being often quoted examples) -- but what we never found out is how much these bespoke sites cost to build and maintain!
Alfresco went down a different path. Although you have been able to use the platform as a Web CMS for simple sites for some time, they took a different strategic direction and decided not to try to be “all things to all people.” Instead Alfresco focuses its Web Content Services features on integration with other specialist platforms, including integration via the CMIS open standard. Good examples are integration with Liferay for enterprise portal, and Drupal for major web sites.
The main takeaway I want to leave with you, is that there are many potential solutions to any particular issue, and many innovative products and services that can come to your rescue. Just because you're very happy in your use of SharePoint 2010 for BI dashboards does not automatically mean you should use SharePoint 2013 as your enterprise social platform -- but it should not automatically discount it either!
Do your leg work on your requirements, factor in all the costs and benefits and find the platform that is right for you -- but let's acknowledge that this may mean convincing the Microsoft fan boys that there is life outside of SharePoint!!
Image courtesy of Todd Klassy (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: This might be a good time to review Jed's predictions for Enterprise CMS in 2012. Check them out here Enterprise CMS 2012: Massive Disruption or Same Old, Same Old?