Alfresco Mashes Up Content Management, Social Computing

The open-source company thumbs its nose at Microsoft and EMC, bolstering its ECM software with Web 2.0 tools.

Alfresco Software turned its Web-based enterprise content management platform into a haven for social computing tools on Dec. 4.

The company is blending its open-source ECM software with tools that many employees use to collaborate with colleagues and perform their jobs, forming the Alfresco Social Computing Platform.

Alfresco officials expect knowledge workers dealing with content will use social computing tools to enrich their content management experience.

On the surface, the software provides functionality one would expect to find in a Web 2.0 collaboration platform, including knowledge spaces, calendars, discussions, wikis, presence (from Skype and Yahoo) and social tagging.

Drilling down into the Web 2.0 mantle, the platform integrates with Facebook, iGoogle customizable homepage, MediaWiki wiki applications, WordPress blog publishing software, TypePad blogging service, RSS Readers and e-mail.

For example, workers can use Alfresco's iGoogle Gadgets integration to create new product information for a partner extranet.

Alfresco, which has been allowing workers to publish content to Facebook from the Alfresco platform since Nov. 14, now enables users to publish content to WordPress and TypePad.


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More adventurous employees can also now leverage the Adobe Flex software development kit with the Alfresco platform to mash up or integrate front-office and back-office content.

In the spirit of open source, users also get to pick their operating system, database, application server, portal, content creation tools, collaboration and social networking tools.

This approach, held by Alfresco since its inception in 2005, is geared to appeal to users who don't want to get locked into a proprietary stack, such as Microsoft's SharePoint or EMC's Documentum ECM platforms.


Alfresco's blend of ECM and social computing tools comes at a time when companies, tired of using the traditional software packages that aren't optimized for the Internet, are increasingly turning to Web 2.0 tools as new, quick and easy forms of collaboration.

Ovum Research analyst Laurent Lachal said ECM is evolving in the direction that Alfresco has mapped out with its new platform. However, Lachal also said that while businesses are interested in Web 2.0 technologies, they don't know how to proceed and Alfresco will have to do a lot of "customer hand holding."

The Alfresco Social Computing Platform, made possible thanks to Alfresco's move to REST (representational state transfer) technology—which makes managed content URL-addressable—will be available for download beginning Dec. 11 here.


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