Alfresco Brings Its Enterprise-Level Content Management Platform to Small Businesses

Alfresco is an open source enterprise-ready content management and collaboration platform that is currently being used by major brands like Home Depot and Michelin. Until now, though, the organization mostly focused on these large customers with more than 10,000 users. Now, however, Alfresco is launching Alfresco Team, a new social content management solution for small business that is free for the first 5 users (a subscription to the company’s enterprise solution usually costs around $15,000 per year). Alfresco Team also includes access to the company’s new iOS apps for iPhone and iPad that allow its users to access their documents on the go.

As the company’s CMO Todd Barr told me last week, Alfresco is aiming this solution at companies that want a full professional service, but are too small for the full version (though Alfresco Team users will be able to easily upgrade to the enterprise version as well). Alfresco sees its product as a replacement for Microsoft’s SharePoint and argues that it’s lighter weight, more scalable, cheaper and easier to support than Microsoft’s service.

Given that it speaks the same protocol as SharePoint, as well as WebDAV, most small businesses or groups within larger enterprises could probably swap out their SharePoint server for Alfresco without any major disruption.

The tool itself includes some nifty features, including an integration with Google Docs that allows users to check documents out, edit them in Docs and have them automatically update in Alfresco (or you, of course, also just export and import documents from Microsoft Office). Alfresco offers previews for a wide variety of formats, including Microsoft Office, Flash, PDF, as well as Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator, and most video and audio formats. Alfresco also provides tools for both version control and automated workflows.

On the social side of things, the tools gives users the option to comment on all documents and “like” and tag content. All of this activity is then reflected in a user’s activity feed.

Unlike most of today’s cloud-based document management solutions, Alfresco is geared towards being self-hosted and the team provides installers for Windows Server 2003 and 2008 , as well as Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS and Red Hat Enterprise 5.5. Alfresco will also soon offers tools for easy installs on Amazon’s EC2 platform.

While Alfresco’s design won’t win any awards, it’s functional and gets the job done. For a tool like this, that’s really the only thing that matters in the end.

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