Documents are the life blood of organizations. Every event, every transaction, every development, many notices or announcements, many results, official and unofficial documents can be needed for analysis, for review, for legal issues or simply for the record or the purpose it was expected to accomplish. This creates a need for an efficient solution to manage these documents and thus Enterprise Content Management Systems(ECMS or simply ECM) and Enterprise Document Management systems(ECM) came into existence. Indeed, there were no need of such systems or solutions until the time when the idea of such large enterprises came into existence.
In earlier days there were no sure shot ECMS solutions so most enterprises opted for a custom-built solution. However with the increasing need of such a system it led to the rise in competition which in turn resulted in an increasing number of CMS solution proividers. We started getting great document management solutions- Microsoft Sharepoint, Nuxeo and Alfresco are the prime examples of the new age solutions which are also the very systems we are going to be discussing in this blog.
All the three document management solutions have their own plus points when pitted against the other despite each of them being popular among enterprises. But which one is the best for your organization?
If you’re thinking of implementing an enterprise content management system, it’s likely that SharePoint is one of the options that you’re considering. It’s not just because of its widespread use (more than 125 million licenses, 65,000 clients and a network of 700,000 developers of solutions for SharePoint): it’s also because, probably, it’s the product that is closest to the software that your business usually uses.
Nonetheless, you should also be aware of the significant problems that SharePoint brings with it.
Pricey licenses: Not only for SharePoint itself, but also for all the technical requirements connected to software that choosing SharePoint implies. And though many would say that SharePoint Services are free, they also have to admit that WSS indeed has insufficient functionality. In fact, it is simply not enough to meet the content management needs for a majority of medium-sized and large businesses.
Technical infrastructure: SharePoint is a collaboration platform, and a powerful one at that, but it has to be “constructed”, not just simply implemented. What’s more, performing development work on SharePoint requires fairly deep knowledge of the platform and, unfortunately, it doesn’t have the most perfect learning curve out there. That means that, before choosing SharePoint, we should ask ourselves if the infrastructure that we have is the ideal one to deal with these problems.
This is the product that we have ourselves dissected up to the last limb, and hence we can give you the best insights on this based on our years of expertise besides extensive research. Alfresco is basically is a solid decision for any business that’s thinking of implementing a document repository. As a product, Alfresco is a complete solution for the primary needs of a business’s document management. For requirements that are not really specific, its implementation is fairly straightforward.
It’s compatible with software that comes from both the Microsoft camp and Linux camp. Alfresco allows for the creation of content from a wide variety of sources, such as CMSs, blogs, office software packages (such as Office and OpenOffice). Additionally, it has a lot to offer for collaboration projects.
Along with Nuxeo, Alfresco has been programmed using JAVA, which, in contrast with SharePoint, makes it multi-platform. Alfresco works well with both the MySQL and SQL servers. The Enterprise version of Alfresco might be a bit more expensive than working with Nuxeo, but it’s a lot less expensive than working with SharePoint, both short- and long-term. And yes, Alfresco is not the most user friendly when it comes to UI, but the explanation goes along the lines of ‘It solves its purpose’.
Another leader in Open Source backed by a strong community, Nuxeo is a solution that allows dynamic product development. For post-implementation development work, the fact that it’s been developed on open standards makes it more inter-operable with third-party solutions and puts the knowledge of how to work with it at the disposal of a greater number of technicians.
It’s a platform, which means that it’s been created with continued growth in mind, whether it be with the client’s own projects, or with third-party solutions; but its growth is not as expensive as that of SharePoint. Support costs are not as high or as extensive as those of SharePoint, and its technical requirements are not as restrictive.
SharePoint Server 2010, for example, demands the use of a 64-bit SGBD SQL server, while Nuexo allows you to opt for MySQL, PostgreSQL and Oracle, as well as Microsoft SQL Server. Regarding collaboration, there are a number of projects underway, with advances such as Calendar for groups, document rankings, comments, support for graphic editor for workflows, etc.
|Category||User interface, ECM||App Development, Content Management Framework, Web application framework||Content Management Framework, App Development, Framework|
|USP||Software for developing business workflows||Most Successful Product from Microsoft||Software for developing business workflows|
|Tag||ECMS, Collaboration Platform||CMS, ECM, DMS, Collaboration Platform||ECMS, Collaboration Platform|
|License||LGPL||Microsoft Shared Source License||LGPLv3|
|Operating system||Cross-platform||Windows Server||Cross-platform|
|Programming language||Java||VB.Net, C#||Java (any JVM scripting language)|
|Database||PostgreSQL, Microsoft BI, MySQL, Oracle||Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2||MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft BI|
|Target audience||Enterprise, Cloud computing, SMB||Employees, Customers, Vendors||Enterprise|
|Framework||JavaServer Faces||.NET Framework||Spring|
|Design pattern||Model-View-Controller, Dependency injection||MVP||Dependency injection, Data Mapper, Model-View-Controller|
|Development principles||Test-driven development||Configuration over convention||Convention over configuration|
|Object-Relational Mapping (ORM)||Yes||No||Yes|
|Backend||Java, Groovy||VB.NET, C||Java (any JVM scripting language)|
|Browser support||Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera||Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer||Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari|
|E-Mail protocols||N.A.||POP3, SMTP||POP3, IMAP, SMTP|
|Supported VCS||N.A.||Team Foundation Server||Subversion|
So is there a winner?
Actually in this case, there does not have to be a winner. Not just because the answer is complex but simply because it depends on your organisation.
All three solutions are great in their own sense and each one is more suitable to different type of organization. Alfresco is an all rounder platform so it can be easily used by small scale to large scale enterprises. In addition if you integrate Alfresco with Liferay, you get an unbeatable portal and document management solution, a combo that has no match till date. Nuxeo on the other hand is best for medium to small scale enterprises who have limited feature requirements and is not needed to be aggressively extended. Sharepoint in the end is most suitable for enterprises with large resources and for those who are dependent on Microsoft products for easy integration. Backed with all the knowledge shared in this blog, taking consultant’s services in choosing a solution(which nevertheless you should) should be more meaningful and helpful. We here at Algoworks have been developing ECM solutions since 2006 and are premier Alfresco consultants worldwide. If you are already looking for a solution now, you may contact us for free consultancy services.