Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Alfresco announces records Management.

Alfresco today announced the release of an open source records management module. Link

For sure Ian Howells and John Newton are starting to shake up the staid world of ECM, and frankly this is a lot more interesting than reflecting on who might buy who and when.

Records Management is close to my heart, I am a big believer that it is the basic housekeeping tasks of RM (and DM) that bring order to the chaos. Too many firms (as I often reflect) are fixated on finding quick fixes to massively complex issues, often in the guise of Search tools that promise the earth, when frankly its the basics that need to be addressed, like it or not.

(Though not strictly OpenSource, it should be noted that 80-20 Software in Australia already offer an excellent Compliancy solution as a free download for Sharepoint environments).

Alfresco as I say are shaking the ECM world up, it is a world that takes a lot to be shaken, last time it was the emergence of Interwoven and Vignette (along with Broadvision, ATG and ePrise etc) in the height of the dot.com boom as potential threats that last shook the industry up. And to coin a corny phrase, the ECM majors are currently being shaken, but not fully stirred yet by the waves that Alfresco are starting to make.

But all in all, Alfresco plus the low seat cost Oracle Content DB are the two biggest dynamics for us watchers to watch. Both of these challenge the status quo, and will elicit a response at some point. But its still early days, and we are yet to see what that response will be. Though the most likely in time is a drop in regular license prices, and maybe even changed business models to stay competitive, and hopefully much more open approaches to ECM.

What Alfresco needs most is a worthy direct competitor - and though Nuxeo is one to note in Europe - another needs to emerge to validate this approach. At the same time as Nuxeo and Alfresco posit OS versions of traditional approaches, differing methods to dealing with ECM needs are starting to evolve. Some (like Oracle and Microsoft) looking at the database, others such as Instasecure in India are proposing new ideas at the document level. All of these new approaches still need full validation, but as I have written many times, the goal of ECM is not to deploy a single product set across an entire enterprise, it is to bring order and efficiency to the management of information across an enterprise.

All of these approaches are probably valid, none is a silver bullet in its own right, but more creative solutions to the managing documents will I emerge, in fact I think they already are emerging.


James McGovern said...

Any thoughts on how us enterprise folks could get industry analysts to start putting Alfresco into leaders quadrants?

Walt said...

"What Alfresco needs most is a worthy direct competitor - and though Nuxeo is one to note in Europe - another needs to emerge to validate this approach."

KnowledgeTree seems like a fairly mature system.

I'm not sure why certain systems like Alfresco gain such huge mindshare as rapidly as they do, while older systems struggle, but at any rate, KnowledgeTree seems to have been around for a while.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

James - I was thinking about this myself just the other day. I think Alfresco will get onto the Gartner and Forrester maps - but other OpenSource options will have difficulty.

Reason being (picks up on Walt's question) is that Alfresco are very well funded and connected. Most OS options are not.

As an ex analyst myself I can say that I was approached literally daily by vendors wanting coverage. Yet due to the reality or mechanics of it I could only cover the 'leading players' and maybe if intrigued enough cover smaller players in a 'note'.

It's a catch 22 - if you aren't spending money with the analysts, you aren't spending time with them. If sufficient clients aren't asking about you then no coverage.

Enough people are discussing Alfresco (certainly Wipro clients) to surely get them some decent coverage soon.

Walt - I have heard of KnowledgeTree but have not looked into them properly. I will do so.