As we’ve been buzzing about all week, Alfresco launched the first complete solution on the market for enterprises moving content to the cloud and today we’ve announced the Alfresco Integration for Salesforce. While our customers can still deploy Alfresco Enterprise on-premise or use the cloud by itself, the new subscription package brings our entire solution under one umbrella and I thought I’d share some background on why this is important.
Destroying a Myth
As I discussed in a previous blog, there is a huge disconnect between what cloud-only vendors promote (everything is moving to the cloud!) and what customers really need, which continues to get bigger as the hype grows. The fact is, enterprises have legitimate reasons for why they can’t move all their content into the cloud today:
- They have legal/compliance restrictions on where they can put confidential content which is specific to their region (i.e. EU) or industry (i.e. Banking)
- They still have a huge investment in legacy systems (i.e. SAP) that are hosted in their own data centres and need to be integrated with
- They still need a fully customizable ECM platform with features and customizations that are not available in the cloud today
- They still aren’t comfortable trusting a cloud provider to look after their most valuable content. Think Apple, one of the worlds most innovative companies, who even have their own cloud service (iCloud) and won’t let any employee even use it let alone third parties because they can’t afford for designs and proprietary IP to be stolen. More on that later
The cloud plays its part in providing agility and flexibility in rolling out a service to users while at the same time opens up new use cases outside the firewall such as B2B collaboration, mobile device access in the field and integration with other cloud services such as Salesforce, but until this week it couldn’t address all the content needs of today’s enterprises.
An Enterprise Cloud Solution that “Just Works”
Anyone in IT knows that if you try and connect two different systems with different architectures and data models, the cost and complexity can go up substantially. Even when vendors provide out of the box connectors, sometimes your users and IT have to work around the differences in the two systems.
A simple analogy I use to describe this is PC vs. Apple. In the PC world, Windows is expected to run on thousands of different hardware devices all with different screen sizes and auxiliary devices and features. In the Apple world, OSX only needs to run on a limited range of devices that Apple also controls and can therefore leverage the close integration between the operating system and hardware for a more seamless experience. The result is as many Apple fans will tell you, Macs “just work” and PCs tend to be more complicated and more prone to crashing.
Alfresco has taken the Apple approach. With the same powerful ECM platform deployed on both sides of the firewall (as our cloud service also runs on Alfresco Enterprise) we provide a tight, seamless experience for both your users and IT. This means:
- We’re not lossy. Most cloud-only services don’t support metadata, they have a range of different permission models, features and way of accessing and storing the data. At most, you can copy the file contents and the file name, but you lose all the metadata and security data around that content, that a platform like Alfresco provides. Alfresco has the same architecture and data model on both sides of the firewall that can seamlessly synchronize your content, metadata, security and other data so you’re not losing vital information in the process.
- We provide the same great UI on both sides of the firewall so your users only have to learn one system and get the same great experience regardless of where they access their content. Many cloud-only services have a nice UI, but users are expected to fall back to a “System that Sucks” behind the firewall with a terrible UI, meaning that users work around this by copying regulated content that shouldn’t be in the cloud to the cloud service. By providing a great application and UI that meets the needs of today’s modern worker on both sides of the firewall, not only do you reduce the cost of supporting the solution your users aren’t forced to work around it as it meets their needs on both sides, not just one side of the firewall.
- We provide the same API on both sides of the firewall. Now your developers only need to use and learn one API to build great content solutions instead of having to integrate a mismatch of APIs and services that support different capabilities across the firewall.
It’s clear that if you want a seamless cloud solution that “just works” with your on-premise needs, the only way to get that is from a single, integrated solution and Alfresco is the only vendor in the market place that can provide this.
Alfresco Enterprise provides the content hub for your on-premise needs, to store your confidential and regulated content while providing access to your internal users, devices and integrating with your on-premise systems. Alfresco in the cloud provides the secure content hub outside the firewall so you can work with people outside your organization easily and securely while at the same time pushing content out to mobile devices in the field while easily integrating with cloud-only services like Salesforce and Google Apps. Together they give you the choice and flexibility to get back control of your content while supporting the needs of your users today.
Alfresco Enterprise is now available to download with our Enterprise Sync capability built in, so you can try it right now and see how you can combine your on-premise needs with the cloud seamlessly. Once you take a spin, let us know what you think!