Reflecting on SharePoint vs. Alfresco article

I finally got a chance to read CMS Wire's article, SharePoint vs Alfresco: A Platform Perspective. Nothing too surprising in the article as it shows that both SharePoint and Alfresco can stand on their own.

While we believe the comparison was fair, we also agree that there's more to SharePoint than immediately meets the eye. By the same token, there's more to Alfresco than just Share, much of which we eluded to in the article.

Is it worth it to look at a side-by-side view of SharePoint and Alfresco from a platform perspective? Is it possible that one is significantly better than the other? Maybe, but the answer you get may not be the one you expected.

The above article isn't going to persuade an enterprise to move from SharePoint to Alfresco or vice versa. However, if you're trying to decide whether to introduce SharePoint or Alfresco to your organization this article could have some value. I especially enjoyed the comment made after the article by Peter Morel. Mr. Morel discusses a couple complaints I hear often about SharePoint:

  • It forced us to be 100% Microsoft compliant (and many subs already chose Linux and Open Office)
  • It was VERY expensive (Each client must pay a CAL (Client Access License)

However, in his comments he also discusses some of the design issues with SharePoint.

  • We had to maintain 2 sets of documents:
    • the ones on Shared disks to be accessed by standard tools
    • the ones in SharePoint and NOT accessible by standard tools as SharePoints store them in an MS SQL Database
  • One of our subsidiary stores VERY LONG technical files which cannot be entered in Sharepoint. We suspect due to a limit of size of BLOBs.
  • We have to keep international versions (at least 7 languages) of the documents. SharePoint does not offer any tool for that
  • We found that changing the structure of meta-data AFTER installation if a REAL MESS and this is a topic where changes count ...

Mr. Morel then goes on to talk about how Alfresco solved many of these issues that SharePoint apparantly could not. So for those of you that were finally settling on SharePoint over Alfresco, I bet this brings at least some pause before implementing that SharePoint solution.  I know people in my own organization are finding it difficult to be  enthusiastic when it comes to committing to a SharePoint solution and worry about vendor lock-in.