When CXO went looking for a content management system on which to build our blogs, we found a surprisingly wide divide between high-end CMS systems such as Interwoven, Documentum and Vignette and open-source tools such as Drupal (the one we chose), Joomla/Mambo, and PHP-Nuke.
First off, the divide was filled with dollar bills–hundreds of thousands if not millions of them. Second, the open source tools couldn’t begin to compete with the commercial products in terms of important features such as workflow management, document control and the like. Where, I wondered, were the middle-tier products?
I finally uncovered one: Alfresco. Founded by some expatriot Documentum/Interwoven/Vignette types, Alfresco is an open-source content management system designed to be lightweight and full-functioned at the same time. It’s built on as many open-source, de-facto and actual standard components as possible: JBoss, OpenOffice, MySQL, WebDAV and so on.
In its current incarnation, it’s very much a document management system built around a simple-to-understand folder metaphor. Users check files in and out of folders, and the folders can perform actions on the files, such as automatically generating PDF proofs and sending them to a writer for review. Improvements due during the coming year should make the system as useful for Web and combined print/Web work as it is now for documents.
Will it be in the running against big Interwoven installations? Probably not. But it may be just the tool for companies that aren’t ready to roll up their sleeves and dig into a PHP-based open source tool but who don’t have the budget for a commercial implementation.
Alfresco comes in roughly two versions, the Community Network (which is free but lacks some features such as tech support, clustering support and LDAP authentication) and Small Business/Enterprise Network, which include those features and differ from each other only in that the Small Business version can be bought on a per-user basis while Enterprise comes in per-CPU licenses.
Businesses looking at the for-pay versions can register for and download 30-day trial versions or join trials hosted on Alfresco’s own servers. If you want the open-source version, you should download it here.
In other CMS news, O’ReillyNet has a posting about an AJAX-based CMS that looks very interesting. The vendor, Kyube, is signing up beta testers now. It’s not an enterprise-scale product, but if Kyube delivers on its promises, it could be just the thing for smaller companies and departmental use.