IM Trends in NZ 1 – OpenSource ECM

I’ve just been asked to Chair the Brightstar Information Management conference in Wellington in March next year. As such, I’ve consolidated my mental meanderings on IM trends into something a bit more cohesive. Here’s what I’m seeing coming:

  1. OpenSource ECM
  2. CMIS will save us
  3. Enterprise Social Computing
  4. Doing Sharepoint wrong, and right
  5. Structured Content
  6. Toes in the mist

I’ll write about the first trend in this post, then the others in subsequent posts.

OpenSource Enterprise Content Management

It’s been a big year for the ECM marketplace.  Two of the major pure play ECM vendors Interwoven and Vignette were acquired by other players (Autonomy and OpenText). Other major players Stellent, Documentum and Filenet were acquired by bigger multi-solution vendors over the last three years.

These deals are seen by those such as CMS Watch as being largely good for shareholders, and largely bad for users/buyers of those systems. The ECM market has become something like the ERP market, with a significant proportion of product licence costs simply paying for the expensive sales process. In New Zealand we don’t have too many organisations large enough to spend the $500k-$1M to get a fully integrated set of ECM components from those big vendors, but even so, the NZ 500-2000 person organisation market has been looking for an attractive ECM platform. The desire to be able to deliver document capture, document management, records management, intranet, digital asset management, and collaboration in an integrated way is compelling as organisations try to deal with ever mounting volumes of unstructured information.

In  2005 John Newton, co-founder of Documentum and John Powell, former COO of Business Objects founded Alfresco. They employed a number of former engineers and Employees from Documentum, FileNet, OpenText, Interwoven and Vignette. Their mission was to create an open source ECM platform. They used best of breed open source Java components, including Spring, Hibernate, Lucene and MyFaces. Their business model was to have a GPL community edition, and an Enterprise edition with paid support at about a tenth of the cost of the older proprietary ECM solutions.

I first reviewed Alfresco in late 2007 as a part of a web content management (WCM) project for an NZ University. Although its WCM component was relatively underdeveloped compared to the likes of Drupal, MySource Matrix, EpiServer, Sitecore and many others, the underlying platform was sophisticated. I was sure Alfresco was going to be big. Up until the last year or so however, there’s really only been Lateral Minds in Australia who’ve been implementing Alfresco in New Zealand, with some large government ministries and private companies.

Now Catalyst IT, Solnet, Coretech, and probably a few others I don’t know about have started implementing Alfresco in NZ. I predict Alfresco will be big in NZ, soon. My reasons for this prediction are:

  • Due to the Public Records Act audits starting next year, many organisations are looking for records management solutions that provide benefit above and beyond traditional RM products
  • With version 3.2 Alfresco provides a robust platform for records management, document management, and digital asset management, at a price that is right for the mid-size organisations (on a global measuring scale) that we have so many of in NZ
  • It has an immensely scalable Java content repository which makes for lower hardware costs, again appealing in a cost conscious market like NZ
  • Its lightweight RESTful architecture for customisation means solutions will be able to be deployed quickly and cheaply
  • Alfresco integrates well with the open source WCM product Drupal, which has a large installed base in NZ both in government agencies and the private sector
  • Alfresco Share is an alternative to the collaborative workspace features of Microsoft Sharepoint, and while currently much less feature rich than Sharepoint, has enough to make organisations take a look at it
  • There is emerging support and implementation services from NZ vendors
  • Lateral Minds are trading in NZ, are providing expert services that come from several years of working with Documentum and Alfresco, and are the Certified Training Partner for Australia and New Zealand

So, that’s my prediction, Alfresco is about to take off here. We’ll see whether 2010/11 proves me right. More on the other trends in further posts this week.

One Response to “IM Trends in NZ 1 – OpenSource ECM”

  1. Mike Riversdale Says:

    Hmm I had a “not so good” experience with Alfresco earlier in the year and whilst the product seemed great it, well, just didn’t work for a client (ie, the s/w wouldn’t do it’s thing). And hey, that’s life but what really nailed it as an option for that particular client was the lack of NZ support/ecosystem for them (closed was based in Sydney).

    Sorry to be a little negative but I really love the s/w and want it to work – just a little more work in this neck of the woods required though

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