Alfresco is set to release the 2.9 version of its open-source content management platform, its first move following its recent integration with Facebook. Features in the release include integrations with popular Web-based services like iGoogle and MediaWiki, as well as Adobe's web development tools.
"What we've pulled together is the de facto, standard tools people are already using," said Ian Howells, Alfresco's chief marketing officer. "What we're doing is sort of giving you all the classic enterprise control, but in a social-networking platform."
The release also features an integration with Adobe's Flex 2 Web development framework. The relationship with Flex is meant to encourage development of rich Internet applications on top of Alfresco. "We find it to be a good, productive environment," Howells said of Flex.
Alfresco gives its software away and makes money on support. It claims 20,000 installations, including among large enterprises such as Morgan Stanley.
Microsoft has also positioned its competing product, SharePoint, as a social computing platform.
In marketing materials accompanying the 2.9 launch, Alfresco officials had harsh words for SharePoint, calling it "slow and not scalable" and "hard to program and extend."
Howells backed away somewhat from that type of language. "What we're saying is Sharepoint is having a big impact and so is open source," he said. "The thing is, people don't want to be tied into a stack from top to bottom."
Alfresco is building to a 3.0 release, likely in the first half of 2008, Howells said, adding that customers can expect the platform to evolve fluidly. "We've created an environment that enables us to integrate to other tools rapidly ... so we can innovate quickly, not in 12- to 18-month release cycles. Facebook was not big 12 to 18 months ago."