Alfresco Enterprise 3.1 Officially Released
Alfresco (news,site) has released version 3.1 of its enterprise content management system. Exclusively available to enterprise customers, this version has a number of stability improvements designed to support the most complex enterprises.

Improvements to the Infrastructure

Alfresco Enterprise 3.0 was put through its paces when it was released. The enterprise content management solution was built for high availability and clustering, but needed some fine tuning. This is what 3.1 provides, fining tuning and some tools to help monitor and maintain:

  • Easy Clustering and High Availability: Stability improvements over v3.0 based on extensive testing and customer feedback
  • System Monitoring: Built in monitoring of database connections and memory using JMX and integration to third party monitoring tools like Hyperic
  • Deployment and Provisioning: Automate deployment and provisioning through a command line configuration utility
  • Alfresco Share: Improvements to the Alfresco collaboration solution that include new skins and themes, better online editing and viewing of documents and improved wiki contribution
  • SharePoint Protocol: Improvements include better collaboration, site and link capabilities with MSOffice
  • CMIS Support: More examples of the implementation of v0.5 of the CMIS specification including Joomla and Drupal

In a discussion on the new release, Alfresco VP of Business Development Matt Asay indicated that they have also formalized support for Records Management with improved support for Kofax.

Asay said that Alfresco has come a long way since its first release in November of 2005. With the release of Alfresco Enterprise 3.1 they now demonstrate strong stability that clearly puts them in the running alongside the other non-open source enterprise content management systems.

Official Launch of the Alfresco Network

Coming alongside the release of Alfresco Enterprise 3.1 is the official release of the Alfresco Network. Released to a limited number about six to nine months ago, Alfresco Networks is a customer support network for enterprise customers. Features of the network include:

  • Customer to Support Collaboration
  • Ticketing Support & Management
  • Enterprise Knowledge Base
  • Download Directory
  • Systems Management Platform
  • Data Environment

Although similar to the Acquia Network that supports Drupal Community, Asay says the Alfresco Network is a value add to enterprise customers only whereas the Acquia Network is a primary revenue generator to support Drupal.

The Alfresco Network will be available to all enterprise customers by the end of April.

Learning Opportunities

A Strong Solution for a Weak Economy

Alfresco seemed to be doing well before the economy started going bad. So one has to question if the economy really had an impact on Alfresco enterprise sales. According to Matt Asay, the answer is a resounding yes.

Like any typical business development person, Asay spent some time tracking Alfresco sales against the DOW. Sales were tracking close to the DOW up until the economy plummeted, at which point they then accelerated. Similar to other open source vendors, Asay indicated sales were increasing more than 27% quarter over quarter.

In fact, Alfresco has announced that it closed 2008 with a 103% year-over-year growth. In 2008, Alfresco added over 270 enterprise customers, doubled community membership, added 90 partners to their SI network and secured 18 OEM partnerships. Add to that an increase in staff of 28% and it does appear they are doing well.

With a great deal of their enterprise customers in the US, primarily in the Media and Finance verticals, Asay says the Risk Profile of many customers are changing. With decreased budgets but no change in requirements, enterprises are looking for lower cost solutions that offer the same or greater functionality. And they are coming to Alfresco for that solution.

You can try Alfresco out before you decide to buy it, either online or via download.