Alfresco sets course for 4.x at Alfresco Community Meet up in DC

Posted by on October 21, 2009

Yesterday about 100 people crowded the halls of the Kellogg Conference Center in Washington DC as another round of Alfresco community summits got underway.

Bill Robinson (Alfresco, VP Sales) reported that 1% of the total Alfresco community / ecosystem base has been attending these meetings. The customer to vendor mix seemed to be about 50 / 50. As a member of Rivet Logic I now help to tip the scales on the vendor side. As a customer of Alfresco in my past life in publishing I can tell you that these events are really important for customers. The opportunity to network with other customers is unparalleled. If you can’t make it out to Atlanta or LA for the upcoming events, mark your calendar for next year. You can’t afford to miss these.

John Newton, Alfresco co-founder and CTO gave the keynote address and laid out the strategic and technical vision for the upcoming versions of Alfresco. As usual he did not disappoint. Alfresco will continue to attempt to disrupt the current ECM market with evolving open source business model and technical strategy and innovation. Of particular note:

  • Alfresco will license the Webscript engine and Surf framework under an ASF (Apache Software Foundation) license. The repository and other core technology will remain under the GPL. Alfresco will retain ownership and continue to maintain these libraries.
  • Alfresco will continue with ongoing activities in partnership with SpringSource (now a division of VMware) to integrate the Webscript engine and Surf in to Spring MVC.
  • Some components of the platform, which are intended specifically for enterprise deployments, will only be available in the Enterprise edition of Alfresco.
  • CMIS, an emerging content management standard continues along its approval process within the OASIS standards body, albeit at a slower pace mostly due to red tape. CMIS is to content repositories as SQL is to the database. In the late 80’s and early 90’s the adoption of SQL standards helped the relational database market gain widespread traction. SQL enabled third party vendors and development platforms more easily and cost effectively develop value. John Newton, a veteran of the SQL revolution, strongly believes that CMIS will have a similar effect in the content management space. CMIS will be a core component of the Alfresco architecture and strategy.
  • Alfresco will be evolving its architecture to better support an ability to run in a cloud environment. Alfresco’s architecture has always contained key elements of cloud-ready software including its stateless service tier. Future enhancements will include functionality like repository sharding.
  • The DM and WCM repositories will be consolidated. The AVM technology under the WCM repository will be retired in favor of a DM / CMIS based store which supports a similar feature set including snapshots, sandboxes, and a simplified layering scheme. This activity will lead to a, much needed single object model and a single set of core services for library functions, permissions, auditing and so on.
  • Alfresco will focus on CMIS and WCM for 4.x.
    • Alfresco WCM focus will deepen its developer focus going forward with Spring and Eclipse integration.
    • Alfresco Runtime servers, currently based on AVM stores will be replaced with scalable CMIS runtimes.
    • Alfresco Share will continue to take on administrative functionality and should completely replace the Alfresco Explorer client by 4.x

I was able to get to the Records Management best practices break out session, which I found very informative. Strong RM capabilities and DOD 5015.2 certification have been a long time coming. Alfresco RM is implemented within Alfresco Share as a “Site type.” Users may be invited in to the RM space to become record managers and consumers. During the presentation we learned about current trends in RM and were treated to a demonstration of the RM application and the process of moving content through its lifecycle as a record from declaration to deposition.

Our CEO, Mike Vertal, outlined a large-scale records management solution that Rivet Logic has been working on with SAIC based on Alfresco, Liferay, and SAIC’s Teratext email archiving platform.

I gave a talk entitled Alfresco Best Practices, which I co-authored with Jeff Potts of Optaros and Peter Monks of Alfresco. The three of us are very excited to have had an opportunity to consolidate all of the practices, pointers and gotchas we’ve learned over the years. The presentation is aimed a variety of levels from Alfresco noobs to Alfresco experts and attempts to cover the lifecycle of a project from conception to deployment and operational aspects. It’s a lot of material to cover in 90 minutes. We invited listeners to tweet about their favorite best practices, practices they thought they could implement immediately and any areas we might have missed. The most active, productive tweeter in each section was awarded a much-coveted Alfresco Community Member t-shirt. We’ll be giving this talk in Atlanta, LA and at a number of the international meet ups – so bring your notepad and twitter account! For those who can’t make it to the events please watch and contribute online at: #alfrescobestpractices. All the material – including more detailed source material will be made available on line after the meet ups. We invite you to enhance and embellish the material. Also for those of you who run local community groups… this presentation is a great score. Download it and present it at your next meeting!

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