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Alfresco recently announced changes to our pricing with Alfresco One available to all existing Enterprise subscribers. That means all of our customers can try hybrid enterprise content management (ECM) for free with a limited number of users and see how this new solution can help deliver new use cases for your organization.

At Alfresco, we believe hybrid is the only way the enterprise today can address all their ECM needs. We’ve called cloud-only vendors bluff that everything can be managed in the cloud. We’ve also addressed the gaps of legacy on-premise only vendors who can’t meet the increasing needs for enterprises to securely share content outside their firewall with third parties or mobile devices.

A few weeks ago I did a webinar on how enterprise architects can use hybrid ECM to deliver new solutions that aren’t possible in either a on-premise only or cloud-only environment. Below is a summary of the four main solutions we’re seeing customers build for their enterprises on top of Alfresco One. All of these solutions can be set-up in minutes if you’re using Alfresco 4.1 or above.

1. Secure B2B Collaboration

By far the biggest driver we see from customers adopting hybrid ECM is the need to share cotent and collaborate with people outside their organization. Before hybrid ECM, enterprises would have to open up their internal systems to external users. This could take weeks to approve and provision in some organizations and potentially open up security holes.

With hybrid ECM, users can now sync content to our cloud service and use Alfresco in the cloud as a secure, compliant, Extranet, to share content and collaborate with external organizations. Because the content is synchronised automatically between both sides of the firewall, customers can now bring external parties into the collaboration process where needed, while keeping internal, confidential systems and data secure behind the firewall.

This results in faster turn-around times when collaborating on content, reducing the need to fall back to email or use unsanctioned file sharing services that the organization has no control over and may be breaking regulatory laws.

2. Enable Mobile Devices

The second driver we’re seeing is using hybrid ECM to enable mobile devices. While mobile devices can use VPN to connect securely to on-premise systems, VPN doesn’t always work and can be technically challenging for users to set-up. However, one concern we’re seeing is protection of data if a mobile device is lost or compromised. With hybrid ECM, enterprises can put the content they need to share on mobile devices on our cloud service, while keeping highly confidential and regulated content behind the firewall. That way the mobile devices can only ever access the content you want to share via cloud.

One of our manufacturing customers uses this for pushing sales presentations to their sales reps and partners in the field. Their marketing team use Alfresco behind the firewall as an Intranet with access to all the internal company research and content to help create new sales presentations for their sales teams and partners. They then push the final presentations to sales reps and partners in the field’s mobile devices via cloud using sync. Not only does this keep confidential content off mobile devices, our cloud service which is optimised for users around the world, provides faster distribution of that content to their devices all over the world.

The other great use case is using mobile devices submit new content to Alfresco in the field. A large retail customer is using Alfresco in this way to take photos of problems in their stores around the country, which are posted to a site on cloud and automatically synchronised back on-premise to the facilities management team who can then create new cases to go and fix those problems.

Both of these use cases provide a reliable infrastructure to push and pull content from mobile devices securely anywhere in the world and ensure than highly confidential, regulated content, stays secure behind the firewall where it belongs.

3. Connect Cloud Services to On-Premise

With the upcoming release of our Salesforce connector, this is a great use case that solves a real problem IT teams have with cloud solutions today. A lot of ECM repositories on-premise are used to store all the content from other solutions such as CRM, ERP, etc. the enterprise is using. Cloud has created an issue where enterprises moving to new cloud-only solutions like Salesforce cannot easily store the content from the service in their ECM repository on-premise. The reasons to do this is to make it easier to integrate with existing business processes and search behind the firewall. For example, uploading a contract on Salesforce should probably be available to SAP on-premise too.

While there are some very expensive and complex solutions available to solve this problem securely, Alfresco One provides a low cost and extremely simple architecture for integrating cloud solutions with your on-premise repositories. Our cloud service acts as a repository for all your cloud services to easily connect to via our public APIs and hybrid sync. can synchronise content from cloud to on-premise automatically and vice versa. This allows your cloud services to access content previously locked behind your firewall and your cloud services to store content in your on-premise repository where it can be accessed by your internal systems.

Once our Salesforce connector is available, you’ll be able to configure this solution in minutes and finally connect your cloud services to your on-premise systems and business processes.

4. Orchestrating your Content in the Cloud

This is my favorite use case as I believe this is where many of our customers will find the most value from hybrid ECM as they become more advanced with using the solution. The great thing about hybrid sync is that changes on both sides of the firewall are automatically synchronized and folder rules can be used on both cloud and on-premise to automate really interesting business processes.

For example, I mentioned in the mobile solution above how a large retail customer was using cloud to push photos of store issues from mobile devices to their facilities management team on-premise. With hybrid ECM, they could automatically kick off a new workflow (case) whenever new photos are submitted via cloud using folder rules. The facilities team could be using Alfresco Workdesk on-premise to manage cases and send cases to external contractors (via cloud) to quote and fix issues around their stores. Once the contract has added their quote or completed the work, the case would return on-premise to the facilities team who would then close the case,and archive it as a record.

With hybrid ECM you can start building new business processes that bring external parties and devices into your workflows without having to open up your firewall or put highly confidential or regulated content at risk.

Hybrid ECM provides a unique and powerful architecture for delivering new solutions for your enterprise. Are there some other examples of how you are using hybrid in a unique way to get stuff done? To get started watch my webinar and downloading Alfresco One today!

About the author

David Gildeh

David Gildeh

Director of Cloud Services at Alfresco. An ECM junkie with his head in the clouds...

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