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Publiacqua S.p.A. Customer Story

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Legacy Migration to Alfresco Instantly Reduces Operation Cost by 48%


Publiacqua S.p.A. (Publiacqua) manages the integrated water service for the main axis of Tuscany, which covers 4 provinces, Florence Prato, Pistoia and Arezzo. In the 46 municipalities served, includes one third of the regional population (about 1,305,000 inhabitants) and where the main economic activities of Tuscany are located.


Publiacqua was using IBM Content Foundation (also known as IBM FileNet P8) in the past to manage internal document and procedures with subcontractors and providers. This system was both old and out of maintenance support. It could not be managed correctly, and the costs were very high as the maintenance charges increased year over year. They needed a modern platform that was flexible and easy to maintain.

The team made a preliminary selection of platforms based on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, and they needed a system integrator that was knowledgeable to design, develop and implement the solution. The short list was either to procure Alfresco Content Services or upgrade and renew the maintenance contract with IBM Content Foundation.

The first step was to issue an RFP in which they not only looked at technical requirements, but also at planned projects, team members' skill sets, the certification for products, and references with systems integrators within the industry.

The three most important attributes used to evaluate the vendors were:

  • User acceptance - This was the most important attribute along with the experience of the systems integrator managing the implementation as they had to make sure that the solution developed was designed with our end users in mind and would drive efficiency and productivity.
  • Software interface - The solution needed to work with our productivity software, SharePoint or Office 365 for example.
  • Interoperability and platform interface - They needed a solution that could easily integrate with our existing software and applications.

For the aforementioned attributes, Alfresco rated very highly in comparison to IBM.

In the previous experience with the IBM solution, when the team needed to integrate a new system or extend the functionality they had to buy new software modules, such as the connectors for the SAP ERP (ICC Connector for SAP). The Alfresco solution is far superior because it is easily integrated into our landscape and all modules and connectors were included in the original proposal.

In addition to ease of integration, the team also chose Alfresco based on economic parameters because their existing IBM solution had very high maintenance costs.


They had a total of three different document management solutions, each one dedicated to a particular business process, in detail:

  • IBM Content Foundation was used for Protocol Process, Quality Assurance and Invoicing Cycle;
  • Zend was used for Meter Reading and Contractor management services;
  • OWL was used for the Workforce management and Plant documentation.

After evaluating this portfolio of solutions, the IT department agreed that they needed to consolidate to reduce costs and increase efficiency so they began an innovative project with the goal of reducing systematic risks and licensing costs.

In order to standardize the DMS architecture, the elements necessary to achieve the expected results were:

  • ease of integration with different application platforms, for example J2EE solutions,
  • simplified migration process,
  • longevity of the solution itself.

In addition, Alfresco's open API will allow us to easily connect with our current solutions like SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365 in the future, which means that the final solution would not affect the productivity of our end users.

Alfresco at the Core of Publiacqua's Digital Transformation Strategy

Through this project, the team transformed their way of thinking and approach to application modernization and infrastructure design. Before Alfresco, the typical approach was application driven with legacy solutions. Now, the focus, in the design phase, is the compliance to standards for integrated solutions.

Accelerated Time to Value with Alfresco Solution

The kickoff meeting for the migration project was on March 1st, 2017. In the first phase, they focused on the architecture of the solution and the deployment of the machines needed, and it took about two weeks to discuss the details of the deployment and the approval of the design and an additional week for the activities. Another two more weeks and the infrastructure (both production and test layers) was released and ready for the migration process, for a total of 5 weeks from the first meeting.

The repository migration phase was also very fast because it was managed through incremental batches in order to work in the background and minimize disruptions in the production environment.

Finally, the only customizations were made to define the profiles of access to documents, using the standard features made available to Alfresco.

They got started quickly and had no particular issue during the migration phase. All the data was successfully migrated, about 4 million documents and photos, with the standard tools provided by Alfresco, without any need to develop a custom integration between Alfresco and our legacy systems. The migration took two months and included all four repositories. The team knew they had to move fast to avoid the cost of renewal and the effort to perform the complex upgrade of our legacy system, IBM Content Foundation, and they admit they couldn’t have moved so quickly without Alfresco.


The major benefit achieved from migrating from IBM Content Foundation to Alfresco is that now they have one single platform with a standard enterprise solution for all the applications when they used to have four different document management solutions, each dedicated to a particular business process with a legacy customized implementation. This translates to less effort and cost to maintain the entire landscape and a more robust infrastructure which guarantees no single point of failure. Once the migration was complete, the Publiacqua team instantly reduced their operational costs by 48% with a payback period of less than 24 months.

Additional benefits experienced as a result from modernizing from their legacy solution are:

  • IBM’s architecture is heavy-footprint and requires a resource intensive infrastructure, they don’t support open source or lightweight components
  • Implementation and Integration can be challenging with IBM -  they have many existing integrations into other systems, but customers usually have to pay for them. Alfresco is built on open standards and open source, this allows customers to easily build integrations or to reuse existing integrations built by the Alfresco community.
  • Upgrading IBM Content Foundation is expensive and can be really challenging. Upgrades for Alfresco are more straight-forward and require significant less effort

As the team looks to the future, they have a cloud roadmap to expand and improve the solution. Alfresco’s modern and cloud-native architecture perfectly supports our cloud strategy moving forward.

“Thanks to Alfresco we achieved the goal to integrate all our different applications with one single DMS platform and managing one platform is much easier, from a maintenance and cost efficiency point of view.” - Mauro Cacciafani, Architecture & Security Manager, Publiacqua S.p.A.