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Well, one thing we can say for sure is that Alfresco is never out of the trade press, and always seem to have something interesting to announce to the world. Overall that's a good thing as innovation can sometimes be in short supply. It's nice to see somebody bucking the trend. However, this particular announcement left me a bit befuddled. Mainly because it is not really an appliance as such, rather it's a software bundling of sorts.To me an appliance is a piece of hardware with preinstalled software that you rack mount and, hey, presto you are up and running. The two examples we have in our world are the ECM appliance from Infogrid and of course the famous Google Search Appliance. In both cases you get a rack mountable server box, pre-loaded and ready to run, in theory saving you both time and money.
This offering in contrast is a Linux/Ingres Database/Alfresco ECM pre-configured bundling, and so has much of the same appeal, in that it's one install and one maintenance contract, just without the box. Thing is, I think the box is half the appeal of appliances -- hence the original nomenclature of the Search Appliance, "Google in a Box" -- it's a good sales and marketing ploy. The other general appeal of appliances is their typically entry-level cost, and at $32k/CPU/year this one fails that test too -- even if it is cheaper than many other ECM alternatives.
Nevertheless the timing is good, as I think it is fair to say that open source and SaaS ECM offerings are well positioned to expand right now. For example many organizations in the US, both in Financial Services and Government, are looking at lower-cost options. Whereas a year or two ago they would never have countenanced open source or SaaS they are now much more open to the possibility.
CMS Watch often recommends open source to customers, and we write extensively about such vendors as Alfresco, Nuxeo, KnowledgeTree, SpringCM, Hyland and Xythos in The ECM Suites Report. Even though these vendors all may have as many "issues" as their better-known traditional rivals, they are nevertheless good solutions and can be the better fit. I think we will be seeing a lot more of them in 2009 -- though I still do have my doubts about this particular "appliance" offering.This week Alfresco, together with Ingres, announced the release of an ECM "appliance"... However, this particular announcement left me a bit befuddled. Mainly because it is not really an appliance as such, rather it's a software bundling of sorts.