“How do we convert from Alfresco Community to Alfresco Enterprise?” is a question we frequently hear from Alfresco users. Since the Community release is free to download, many companies implement Alfresco Community as a pre-cursor to an Enterprise release. In some cases a company will run Community for quite awhile before deciding to upgrade to Alfresco Enterprise. Once an implementation grows to where a company needs assistance from a partner the discussion on how to convert takes on a greater urgency.
As with all certified Alfresco partners, we engage only with clients working on the Enterprise edition. This restriction leads right into the discussion and planning on how best to convert the client. In most cases, the factors we consider would be similar to ones that are identified when performing an upgrade (i.e. 3.0 to 4.0). In fact, a lot of the same scenarios have parallels to typical upgrade approaches on traditional ECM platforms such as FileNET, Documentum, etc.
Since the hardware, OS, and database versions are typically common between Alfresco Community and Alfresco Enterprise there is not much to consider unless there is a desire to switch platforms or databases. For example, if a client wants to switch from MySQL to SQL Server a database migration/conversion must be designed. If the platform remains the same, the conversion can often be done in-place.
When moving from Community to Enterprise, deciding between the Explorer vs. Share user interface may be a more involved discussion. Typically the users performing an evaluation have been focused more on functionality and have used the Explorer interface to prove out workflows and features. When deploying to a broader user community a friendlier interface, such as Share, is required. The change of UIs may result in re-testing or re-evaluation of functionality. Often, customizations made in Explorer need to be migrated to Share.
The final piece of advice is to develop a thorough test plan and reserve enough time for testing by end-users. When converting from Community to Enterprise, many clients assume that it is simply a back-end technical change and do not provide sufficient time for technical testing as well as end-user use case testing.
Please share your experience with us in the comments. We would like to hear your thoughts about converting from Community to Enterprise.