Alfresco creates open source SharePoint clone

Vendor adds to project the protocols made available by Microsoft

Alfresco Software Thursday said it has added support for SharePoint Server 2007 protocols to its Alfresco Labs 3 beta and created an open source clone of Microsoft's content management platform.

Alfresco, which is expected to ship the Labs content-management server near the end of September, added protocols that govern communication between Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server.

In June, as part of its Open Specification Promise, Microsoft released Version 1.0 of the technical documentation for the protocols built into SharePoint Server 2007. "You can now stand up an Alfresco Labs server next to a SharePoint Server, and Office will not be able to tell the difference between the two," said John Newton, CTO of Alfresco. "But we are offering considerably more scale than SharePoint can deliver," he said.

The Labs 3 document library scales to more than 100 million documents, while Microsoft recommends no more than five million in SharePoint.

SharePoint has become such a hit with corporate users that it has generated more than a billion dollars in revenue for Microsoft, which claims it has sold more than 100 million licenses. The platform, however, is not without its issues.

With Alfresco tied into the client side, users can choose alternatives for databases, application servers and portal products on the back end that are not supported in the Microsoft stack of software, Newton says.

Part of the Labs 3 beta is Alfresco Surf, a platform for developing applications that are more scripting-oriented, Newton says. Surf lets developers build representational-state-transfer (REST)-oriented Web applications and mashups from different feeds and HTML content.

Alfresco says it will expose these REST-based components as Web parts so users can plug them into a SharePoint Portal. Surf is built on Alfresco Web Scripts technology and includes content-oriented components designed around the Yahoo User Interface (YUI) Library and Adobe Flash.

Labs 3 also includes a RESTful API for delivering content and collaboration services used to develop or customize Alfresco applications, a new Web client that supports components, and a preview of the Alfresco Share social-computing application.

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