Alfresco launches Team for Departments and SMBs

Alfresco launched a new offering yesterday called Alfresco Team. Team is an attempt by Alfresco to reach out to departments and smaller organizations who would like a supported tool for collaboration, but don’t have the number of users, volume of documents, or support level requirements necessary to justify an Enterprise support subscription for Alfresco Share.

Team is essentially Alfresco Share plus some new features that haven’t yet made it into the Share product. Team will not be a separate code base going forward. After the next release of Alfresco, the features should be on parity and the difference between Team and Share will be the cost (which, for Team, is based on number of users and number of documents) and support levels.

Team can be downloaded and run on-premise, on the customer’s own cloud infrastructure (public or private), or on Bitnami’s cloud infrastructure. It is not yet offered as true SaaS–the customer must install and maintain the software. We will likely see a true SaaS offering of Team later this year.

In July, Alfresco will be releasing iOS apps for Team that run on both iPad and iPhone. I haven’t yet played with these but the use case is primarily around content creation and capture, so that collaborators can grab content (from a camera, from iWork, etc.) and get it into the Team repository where it can be routed, reviewed, updated, and commented on by the rest of the team members.

Once the new Team features are added in to Share, the iOS apps will probably work with Share as well (not certain, but likely).

We’re going to release the iOS code as open source so that you’ll be able to take it, tweak it, re-brand it, or develop new Alfresco-centric mobile apps with it. I’ll give you more details on that as we get closer.

One early concern partners had was whether or not they would be able to implement and customize Alfresco Team. The answer is a qualified “yes”. Partners can install the product for clients, but customization is limited to creating custom themes or adding new mash-up style dashlets. In other words, if you want to change how the document library works in Team, you can’t do it. There’s a complete list of what customizations can and cannot be done here. It’s important to note that this isn’t really a partner issue–customers are subject to the same list. It’s really about keeping support costs down due to the lower price point.

So, for partners, the reaction to the new offering will probably be lukewarm based on the limited opportunities for big projects to happen around Team, although I suspect we’ll see a fair number of folks doing short Team install and config engagements. One of the nice things about Team is that because it is Share, partners already know how to install it and create add-ons for it.

I see Team as an opportunity for Alfresco to find new use cases and functionality for Share, which will improve both the Community and Enterprise editions of the Share product, and as a way to get Alfresco in front of a lot more people. What will be interesting to see is if there is enough room in the market between extremely low cost collaboration tools like Basecamp and relatively higher-cost, higher-end tools like Alfresco Team.