Back in 2010, we posted an article on the pricing differences between Documentum and Alfresco. With our series this year, this post will update our thoughts.
Documentum and Alfresco Costs – What’s Changed since 2010
The biggest change since our post in 2010 has been the announcement of D2 by Documentum. As we touched on in our EMC World review post, D2 will require a new purchase of a product since, to date, Documentum has not given credit for existing Webtop or other licenses.
Both Documentum and Alfresco have Cloud offerings. For the purpose of comparison, this post will only discuss on-premise cost models.
Documentum Cost Model
The Documentum Cost Model is built around an initial purchase and then a maintenance agreement. Cost components include:
- User Per Content Server (1 per user per server)
- User Per Application (1 per application user – could be Webtop, D2, Custom Client, My Documentum, etc.)
Additional Applications will require additional licenses
- Per Server (Example – Document/Media Transformation Services, Trusted Content Services, Site Caching Services)
- Per User (Example – PDF Annotation Services, D2 Plus Pack)
Maintenance adds to the cost at either 18%, 21%, 23% or 27% (see related article on maintenance costs rising). While discounts are available on the initial purchase, most clients report that maintenance pricing is based on list pricing.
Alfresco Cost Model
The Alfresco cost model is very different because it is a subscription model, rather than a purchase-and-maintenance model. Clients pay a subscription for yearly support for the enterprise edition (community edition is available for free but without support). Subscriptions are based on a CPU model. A quad-core CPU counts as a single CPU. Alfresco has a few optional add-on offerings that also have a CPU-based yearly subscription model, including a Transformation Server (for those requiring Office documents to be rendered with Microsoft Office instead of OpenOffice), and Index Server.
Alfresco worked with Forrester to produce a study on details of the pricing model – it is available here – http://www.alfresco.com/forrester
To illustrate the cost comparison, we have created a very simple model. Because pricing can change with both Documentum and Alfresco, we have not tried to include any current or actual prices, rather just high-level prices to illustrate the differences.
- Client has 500 users and purchased Documentum at some point in the past.
- Client purchased for $250,000 and is currently paying $50,000 in maintenance.
For comparison, we would probably recommend a 2-CPU system in Alfresco for 500 users and the cost for the annual subscription would roughly be comparable to the maintenance cost for Documentum – $50,000.
For comparison purposes, we will discuss several scenarios that affect the “migrate versus stay” decision.
Currently on Documentum 6.5 Webtop – No Additional Users – Staying on Webtop
One common scenario is a 6.5 client that is considering an upgrade to 6.7, while staying on Webtop. This is a typical scenario where a client would probably determine that the effort to migrate to Alfresco would not result in any cost savings and simply choose to upgrade Documentum in place, rather than incurring the cost and retraining effort of moving to Alfresco.
Adding Additional Users
The Documentum versus Alfresco decision becomes clearer when consider adding additional users, particularly in large numbers. We have seen many clients look to add licensing for external partners, which would result in both additional Documentum licenses and maintenance costs. The Alfresco CPU model would result in immediate cost savings, as well as the flexibility to add and remove users without effecting the subscription cost until the limits of the current hardware is reached.
Keep in mind that Documentum named pricing is truly a named user license (that license is for Bob Smith) and cannot be re-purposed. Clients should think of it similar to Microsoft where the license is for the PC instance and cannot be moved around to other PCs.
Moving to D2 or xCP
D2 or xCP would require a purchase of new licenses. This would be an incremental cost along with additional maintenance. If clients choose not to retire their Webtop licenses, the maintenance for those products would continue as well. Clients should also keep in mind that D2 and xCP would probably require object model changes and could require an expensive migration.
We would compare the effort to migrate from Documentum Webtop to Alfresco as very similar, if not cheaper, than the effort to migrate from Documentum Webtop to Documentum D2, depending on object model changes and other factors.
Upgrading from Documentum 5.3 to 6.7
Readers might point out that Documentum 5.3 is fairly old and out of standard and extended support. We still have a large number of clients that haven’t found the justification to upgrade a working system. We have written multiple articles about how to upgrade your 5.3 Webtop to ease the migration effort but many 5.3 clients are rightly employing an “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” strategy.
The big issue for 5.3 clients is the cost of moving Webtop customizations to either the newer version of Webtop (could be a big effort) since Documentum has announced that it will not be “investing in Webtop” any longer. The effort of migrating to the new D2 or xCP interfaces would likely be similar in effort to migrating to Alfresco.
Documentum and Alfresco – Different Cost Components
While it might be easy to compare just the hard-dollar prices regarding purchase/maintenance versus subscription, other cost components are just as relevant and could include:
- Cost of Developer Resources – Many of the issues with Documentum, particularly for Webtop customers, is availability of knowledgeable resources. Documentum customers struggle with finding people with WDK skills. Alfresco interfaces leverage newer and more standardized frameworks like Spring.
- Other components – Oftentimes Documentum clients rely on integrations around the Documentum product stack. These can include expensive components like FirstDocs or other utility products like PDF Aqua. The majority of these components require additional license and maintenance costs. Alfresco leverages open source alternatives that do not require additional costs.
In regards to cost components, Alfresco has a simpler and more cost-effective CPU based subscription model than Documentum’s licensing model. Clients should consider Alfresco as a Documentum replacement for cost savings if they have to upgrade, add additional users, or make new interface purchases.