Open source ECM now served Alfresco

Free software lowers barrier to entry

Local enterprises are taking advantage of a low barrier to entry into content management with the open source Alfresco ECM system for a range of new projects - from records keeping to image hosting.

Alfresco integrates a number of open source components to produce a Java-based ECM system that can be used for document and Web content management, records management, and knowledge management.

Both Telstra-owned Sensis in Victoria and Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia have successfully trialled Alfresco and are now using it in production.

Sensis' program manager for its advertising production unit, Scott Williamson, needed a content system for many "artifacts and art pieces" to be referenced, searched, and retrieved by some 120 design staff.

"We looked at what we had, but everything was cost prohibitive so we looked at open source and some of the IT guys suggested Alfresco," Williamson said.

"We looked at Documentum, which is what we already had, and Oracle, but Alfresco seemed to manage it better."

With Alfresco's feature covering Sensis' requirements, a trial was done in August last year and by November it was in production.

Williamson, who has an IT background and now bridges IT and the business, said Sensis already uses some open source so that wasn't a concern when choosing Alfresco.

"I like the simplicity, speed of search, and the little maintenance that had to be done," he said. "We still have issues with it as the version we are using doesn't handle versioning very well, so we plan to upgrade."

The only integration work required was with the corporate LDAP directory.

"Our dumbed-down Web interface allows you to search and retrieve or store images by importing it with metadata," Williamson said. "It's well and truly underused, but other people are now using it for facets like document management."

Java sits in with Sensis' technology mix, and while Sensis is using the pay-for supported version, Williamson said it is not exorbitant.

"What we have spent is minimal and about 25 to 30 percent of what we would have if we had chosen Documentum," he said.

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