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. In other posts, we’ve talked in more depth about the inconvenient aspects of SharePoint, but today we’re just going to do a quick summary of those which, in my opinion, are the most critical ones:
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 is free, they also have to admit that WSS has insufficient functionality which isn’t enough to meet the content management needs for the 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.
Going back to our original topic, let’s take a quick look at the ECM solutions which we, and many others, consider to be the best alternatives to SharePoint.
This is the product that we know best, the one that gives us the peace of mind to be able to say what, really, is a solid decision for any business that’s thinking of implementing a document repository. As a product, Nuxeo 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. And for post-implementation development work, the fact that it’s been developed on open standards makes it more interoperable 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.
Another leader in Open Source and with a strong community behind it, Alfresco is a solution that allows for dynamic product development. 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: individual and team calendars, activity feeds, discussion boards…. Alfresco is collaboration, but also document management and CMS. As with Nuxeo, Alfresco has been programmed using JAVA, which, in contrast with SharePoint, makes it multiplatform. Alfresco can also work with both MySQL and SQL Server. 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.
NOTE: I’d just like to add one final comment to clear something up. Contrary to what you might believe, we at Yerbabuena Software Inc. don’t write comparison studies or criticism about document or content management systems (whether they be CMSs, DMSs, DAMs, ECM solutions, etc.) to get more customers. Those systems don’t directly compete with what we do. Athento is a layer of advanced functionality which is integrated with the majority of those solutions (those who implement CMIS, among which we find Nuxeo, Alfresco, SharePoint Server 2010-13.) We write these kinds of posts because, thanks to having to integrate Athento with these kinds of systems, we know them extremely well and we understand their strengths and weaknesses. I want to make this clear because I know that this kind of post tends to get both fans and detractors of these kinds of programs worked up. I also have to mention that we normally recommend solutions such as Nuxeo or Alfresco as content or document management systems not just because they’re open source solutions, but also because the passage of time has proven its robustness and power; but, more than anything, because we believe in our hearts that these are the solutions that will bring the most value (not just in terms of prices) and fewest future inconveniences to our clients.
Document Capture Solution: Athento
Comparing Document Capture Solutions (Athento, Kofax, Ephesoft etc.)
Document Management Success Case at BBVA, managing 7 million records.
Comparing ECM Systems (including Alfresco, OpenText, Documentum, Filenet, Sharepoint or Nuxeo).