Alfresco: Regaining Control of Critical Business Content

Doug Dennerline, CEO Since years, organizations have harbored Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) as two separate entities. However, with Big Data, mobile and BYOD strategies taking the centre stage, these organizations today require intelligent software that can manage the overwhelming data and improve their content centric business process and workflow needs. In the business world, where survival is another term for satisfied customers, the firms have to render ECM and BPM as a single weapon to spade contents thoroughly and deliver insights to foster management and collaboration among themselves and with the end-users.

It is pragmatic, since managing the ocean of content demands more than just having a digital filing cabinet or cloud platform. Organizations need tools that can get the right content from the cloud repository—whether structured or unstructured, paper or electronic, audio or video, photograph or email—into the right hands at the right time. “What organizations require are open standards and open architectures to gain more control over providing much better user experiences so that users don’t turn to capabilities that IT has no control over,” says Doug Dennerline, CEO at Alfresco Software.

For Dennerline, this shift was a long time overdue. As a networking industry veteran, the CEO has worked alongside with various multinational enterprises such as Cisco to curb the unrest caused due to the inefficient content management platforms. The experience of Dennerline became a new cornerstone of Alfresco, as the company positioned its expertise at the intersection of ECM and BPM.

Recognized as a ‘Visionary’ by Gartner in the Magic Quadrant for ECM, Alfresco has tailored Alfresco One and Activiti software, built on open standards that enable organizations to unlock the power of their business-critical content. Both the ECM and BPM class tools render controls that IT demands and the simplicity that end users adore, enabling global organizations to collaborate more effectively across cloud, mobile, hybrid and on-premise environments. Innovating at the intersection of content, collaboration and business process, Alfresco’s software manages over seven billion documents, powering the daily tasks of more than 11 million users worldwide.

Firms are confused in deciding what should be in their private cloud and what should move to the public cloud

Two is One and One is None

Today, implementing content that provides successful results has become a two-stage process. First, organizations should resolve how to manage and synchronize content across cloud and on-premises repositories, while simplifying and strengthening information governance and compliance. Alfresco One was tailored, keeping these requirements in mind. With Alfresco One, document management, collaboration, and process automation can be synced to the cloud, hence avoiding the risks associated with uncontrolled consumer file sharing and enabling secure collaboration outside of the firewall.

“Alfresco One is our core content platform. It has all the standard services that you get with content platforms in terms of burgeoning metadata support and then, being open,” says Dennerline. “It’s an open source platform, and support standards like CMIS for content management, web dev, REST APIs, making it incredibly flexible for organizations to write applications on top of a platform supporting an endless number of user-based applications that you might want to build on it.” Alfresco One offers powerful, customizable search capabilities that quickly connect users to relevant files, sites, and people. Integrated analytics improve discovery by surfacing valuable content and interactions, and help identify stale assets to archive. With this ECM tool, firms can also unravel the cloud content for its users on smart devices for review and approval tasks.

After bringing the cloud platforms in order and their content in control, what left is to power the operations and serve end-users successfully across the globe. Here, the BPM tool Alfresco Activiti comes in the picture to manage a wide range of critical to handle a wide variety of critical processes, Alfresco Activiti provides a powerful set of modules such as Step Editor and BPMN Editor to model and deploy business processes.

Shifting Towards an Open Architecture

Developing both products under an open source environment has allowed enterprises to tweak the codes and blend the solutions as per specific needs. “Many of the features we bring into our software come from the community itself. The enterprises that use the software can create their own fixes, features, and functions to that software over the course of time,” says Dennerline. “This approach also ensures we identify and fix as many bugs as possible.”
Organizations such as Harris Grant, Amadeus, Tech Mahindra, and NASA are among the users who have built their content management system on the open source technology of Alfresco. Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX), a major player in the media and entertainment business, described their pre-Alfresco implementation as a “Frankenstein monster experience” that comprised a disparate stack of technologies. The broadcasting giant was previously grappling with its complex choreography process, which had to create or modify virtually all content no matter how minor those changes were. This hours-long process was further compounded by the fact that every FOX show has its own “microsite”, each requiring regular updates to content such as character profiles, episode guides, videos and news.

Alfresco’s solution allowed FOX to incrementally shift the control of content changes from the developers to the show producers and from a manual to an almost completely automatic process. As a result of the Alfresco implementation, FOX was able to more efficiently and cost-effectively manage its online content. FOX was also benefited from the scalability, from both an authoring and performance perspective.

"Alfresco One is our core content platform. It has all the standard services that you get with content platforms in terms of burgeoning metadata support and then, being open"

Many companies struggling with their traditional content platform appreciates what Alfresco brings on table: “they are the ones that tell us they’re tired of being in a closed system,” underlines Dennerline. “Think about it, if you want to make a change to a workflow in your company, you have to go back to the manufacturer to get those changes made.”

The Transition

Dennerline came to the helm three and half years ago and in his stint, the company has transitioned from a technically oriented company to a customer centric one. “We have done a lot to make sure that we know who our customers are, what they want from us and that we remain committed to their success,” says Dennerline, beaming with pride. Satisfied customer is indeed a synonym for survival, and Alfresco is ensuring to walk in tandem with its clients and partners to maintain its position in the ECM and BPM market. “We want to sustain our momentum and growth curve in the content industry and make sure we hire capable people and bring the right processes and talent onboard to stick with our vision,” ends Dennerline.


San Mateo, CA

Doug Dennerline, CEO

Alfresco is leading the convergence of ECM and BPM, helping create efficient connected processes which present content in context