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Alfresco

I am about to catch a flight to India and wanted to blog one thing before I left. Last week, one of the Asite technical architects, David, pointed me towards what looks to be quite an exciting project - Alfresco. This is a project started by a bunch of guys from Documentum and it looks to be based here in the UK in Maidenhead.

"Alfresco is an open source, open-standards content repository..."

To me, this is immediately interesting on two levels. First, on a technical level. This project is being built upon the same technical foundations as the Asite technology, an open J2EE framework based on JBoss and JBoss Portal technology, and incorporating open standards such as WebDav and Lucene for federated search. This is close-to-home in both the technology as well as the geography senses and I look forward to exploring ways that our work might be complementary.

On the commercial level, those of you who know me well will have heard me talking for years about the impending commoditisation of the certain subset of our construction IT industry known as "project extranets" or "project collaboration". This is one of the several business lines which are required to build a holistic solution for capturing data all the way through the lifecycle of a built asset. This concept of data throughout the built asset lifecyelc goes to the core of my view of the "correct" solution model in the AEC industry. Much more about this in subsequent posts...

The core technologies targeted by the Alfresco system (document/content management and workflow in a portal-based system) are the functional specification of all of the systems in this over-populated industry sub-space. Opening this up will increase the pace of innovation and will enable those of us who are building the holistic solution to focus more talent and more time on the higher-value pieces of the solution-set.

I love this stuff because it keeps us pushing forward and because it will make irrelevant those who grow complacent.

Keywords: Alfresco, Open+Source, AEC, Innovation

1 Comment | Leave a comment

Whenever the conversation of collaboration and commodity comes up it is often discussed in the context of pricing competition between competing software providers. The scenario is that all providers continuously lower their prices to the point where winners and losers start to filter out. Losers will have the higher costs thereby generating the lowest earnings. It seams to me that will clearly have an effect on the market and the market dynamic but when you introduce an open source option how will that effect the market? Will it help the existing providers by lowering their costs and to keep pace with the rest of the market in the core offerings? Will it drive the providers out of the market all together by placing the core technologies in the hands of the customer? Or will it, as Nathan has alluded, allow the providers to get away from the core applications and focus on specialised value added activities that will drive the market further and faster? As for the question of whether companies make money in the open source world, Red Hat reported $125m in revenues for the first 6 months of 2005, which proves that a value added service wrapper on open source is a viable business model. What will the players do next?

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