Market Trends

Yesterday, we announced Alfresco One, a new subscription-based offering that combines the power and security of on-prem ECM with the speed, mobility and user-friendliness of the cloud.

Alfresco One also includes Alfresco’s new enterprise-to-cloud sync features (read more about this here).  And so, it embodies Alfresco’s vision for Cloud Connected Content, where content is in the cloud when it makes sense, but IT retains control.

Why should you care?  

In leading up to this announcement, we’ve been busy meeting with customers, partners and analysts.  We consistently hear:

  • The cloud is great for some content – it helps mobile workers stay connected and eases content-oriented collaboration with the extended enterprise, which has never been easy.
  • But not all content is going to go to the cloud; enterprises want hybrid approaches that support classifications of content for different use cases and different types of consumption.
  • IT needs more control over what content is in the cloud, how it shared and when it is pulled back.  Many organizations are blocking the likes of Box and Dropbox outright so they can figure out the right alternative.
  • File sharing via the cloud and on mobile devices is handy, but enterprises have real processes to manage and real work to get done.  All the basics of content management – workflow, meta data, audit trails, support for imaging apps and so on still matter – and in many cases, matter more than ever in this new world of mobility and sharing.

Alfresco lets organizations put their content in the cloud to support those users and use cases (e.g., mobile users, partners, collaborative apps) that make sense in the cloud.  And it continues to provide a full-blown ECM system behind the firewall for apps that require a lot of customization or integration with other enterprise systems or the management of highly sensitive, on-prem-only data.

Alfresco can connect the two so internal content can be synced with a cloud site so a partner can access and collaborate.  And then that sync can be turned off and the content can continue on-prem as part of a broader process or retained as part of longer-term retention or records management practices.  That’s Cloud Connected Content.

What this process looks like:

There are on-prem content systems, but they’re not supporting what users need for mobile access and collaboration.  So users are putting their content in some other cloud ‘box,’ losing meta data, process, version control and audit trails along the way.  Not to mention the fact that the user now has more than one app to deal with – there’s the internal app and the external one for working with partners or for mobile access.  Which one has the right file?   Did the final result from the external collaboration make it back to system of record on prem?  Are there still older versions floating around the cloud?

Alfresco One solves these problems, so organizations can use the cloud as it makes sense, while retaining control. 

Like this:

Don’t other providers offer this?

Other offerings on the market can’t do this for a few reasons:

  • They’re cloud only with no viable way to handle on-prem data (third-party connectors that move content from one system to another lose meta data and therefore context.  And we’ve not found anyone actually using them…)
  • They’re on-prem only with only tepid moves to the cloud.  Support for “private clouds” doesn’t support the business user, who needs a cloud site to collaborate with a partner.  Today.
  • They have separate systems in the cloud and on-prem with no connection between them.  In this scenario, customers have to choose which deployment model they want.  What if they want both, to support different types of content and different users?  Well, that’s fine, but don’t expect the two environments to be able to talk to each other.  And you’ll have to buy them separately.
  • They offer only basic file sharing and sync features with little support for business processes.

File sharing and sync are useful capabilities that should be part of any content management system.  But on their own, they’re fairly limited.  What happens when you need to find documents?  Or kick off a workflow?  Or have a workflow automatically initiated because of the meta data or folder rules associated with a file?  Or apply records management policy to a collection of files?

As an ECM provider, these are the kinds of capabilities Alfresco has been building from inception.  Alfresco One combines the strength of ECM with all the benefits that the cloud and mobility provide to users, supporting Alfresco’s vision of Cloud Connected Content.  No other cloud file sharing or ECM provider can do that.

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About the author

Kathleen Reidy

Kathleen Reidy is the Director of Market Strategy at Alfresco.

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