TSG just got back from the 2011 Alfresco Sales Kick-off event in Orlando last month. This post will discuss some of our thoughts in regards to the Alfresco team, product updates and partners.
It’s a Karma thing
Key to understanding Alfresco, open source as well as Alfresco Partners is a belief in Karma, not so much the religious views but more in a Western “My Name is Earl” view that “performing positive actions results in a good condition in one’s experience, whereas a negative action results in a bad effect”. Throughout the conference, Alfresco went “above and beyond” to freely “give” positive help to the Alfresco partners to help us be successful with our Alfresco practices. Compared to other sales meetings where “Partner” was another word for Subordinate, Alfresco truly embraces the shared success model including:
- Consulting – Alfresco understands the need to have partners be successful and “feed” the partner channel. Rather than having their own consulting practice, consulting sales goals and subcontractors, Alfresco focuses on software and making partners successful.
- Customers – Alfresco licensing model focus on doing the right things for customers. Unlike commercial software that has the high entry cost, the support and maintenance only model forces Alfresco and it’s partners to do the right things for clients to be successful with their tools and avoid the “shelfware” so prevalent in other ECM environments.
- Product Development – Events like Alfresco DevCon and the Sales Kick Off give both partners and clients direct access to the engineers in Maidenhead. It gives both partners and clients perspective on best practices, but hopefully give the engineers a better perspective on how we are using the platform for the various engagements we focus on in the real world.
- Partners – Many of the Alfresco partners have known each other from previous ECM efforts. I think we get “karma” as well in regards to sharing our knowledge with each other. TSG is known as the “migration experts” due to the leverage of our tool by Alfresco partners. Many Alfresco Partners and Sales Engineers have developed components and made them freely available, which in the end, helps grow the Alfresco community and makes implementations more successful.
Alfresco has focused on Social Content Management as the primary marketing message since the beginning of 2011. Aside from the traditional Alfresco Share collaboration functionality and how it relates to Social / Collaboration functionality, The following list some key features to be release as part of the 2011 roadmap.
- Additional Publishing Channels – Alfresco will provide capabilities to publish to social media site and components such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Earlier versions of Alfresco already provided the ability to publish to external blogs like WordPress. It’s a great use case for organizations wanting to centralize their processes for publishing to various media channels. Coming at it from another angle, we’ve been leveraging Alfresco for a number of clients as a content aggregator. Leveraging our OpenMigrate framework to take content from various sites like WordPress, custom CMS repositories, news deeds, etc. and importing them into Alfresco continually. It comes full circle for content either way.
- Apache Solr – Alfresco will be utilizing Apache Solr as a separate shared search replacement for Lucene. This should provide better clustering and huge performance gains. Lucene will no longer need to be updated as part of the same transaction. Long term, features like faceted search would able to be used integrated into the Share interface. I see some similarities to what Documentum has done with the xPlore search engine, which is a Lucene integration with xDB. An interesting analysis on what type of benefits an eXists / Solr integration could had, similar to how xPlore works with a Documentum repository.
- Activiti – Alfresco has been supporting the Apache Activiti initative for the last year. There was lots of great info presented on Activit at Alfresco DevCon in November. Activiti will be integrated side by side with jBPM. Allowing customers to continuing using jBPM for existing process, and slowing converting over to Activiti as needed. At least right now, it doesn’t look like Alfresco will be charging enterprise customer separately for use of Activiti (unlike other legacy ECM vendors….)
The ‘Shared success model’ is truly missing from the industry (at least the ECM industry) – however, I would argue that new entrants like Alfresco have to adopt this model as a differentiator otherwise they will NOT be able to compete against the more established players?
Although their support for the cloud and social media etc. are unique to convetional ECM products.
Currently, from a ECM+BPM capability maturity point of view where would you rate Alfresco compared to other more established players?
TSG Dave says
Thanks for your comments.
From an ECM perspective, Alfresco is definately as mature as older companies as they have leveraged all of the lessons-learned from the other ECM vendors. In regards to BPM, I am not sure any of the ECM/BPM combination players are truly established yet. While I am not a big fan of the Gartner Quadrants, but if you line up the ECM and BPM quadrants, there is not a clear ECM/BPM combination winner. I think BPM will always be a separate catagory combined with ECM by client. I would expect that some buyers would look for ECM and BPM from the same vendor but many would choose a “best of breed” BPM solution for other reasons to combine with one or a variet of ECM solutions.
All the above being said, we love the Open Source approach with JBPM and upcoming Activiti from Alfresco. We would think it would be a challenger for those customers looking for an Open Source alternative.