Virtually every organization has a need to exchange files beyond the firewall, and I guess everybody will agree that Dropbox got a lot of things right – ease of use in the first place. It just works – everywhere. That is why people love and use it – even when they may not be allowed to do so.
File sharing is a very popular application of Alfresco. Now that we realized we may have unintentionally shared with the NSA, I expect people to fear the cloud even more and Alfresco to gain further significance in the file sharing market. An implementation makes a great Alfresco introduction project. Getting a basic basic system up and running is fairly effortless and risks are low. This post outlines solutions ranging from small to big.
Solutions come in all Sizes
Alfresco based solutions come in all sizes. Before going further, I would like to make clear that I have not used all of the following implementations myself and my understanding may be wrong.
The most basic system is the dedicated vanilla on premise Alfresco installation. This already works for a lot of people. Some may need minor tweaks like our custom site local groups or the missing download link.
Basic Dropbox integration can be implemented using Alfresco’s capability to expose the repository as a filesystem. We are using this approach with WebDAV for a customer who is very happy with it for years now. Alfresco employees have set up a Dropbox integration project at Google code. At this time, it seems nobody is contributing anymore. I have never tried it and I do not know how it differs from the filesystem based solution.
Recently, Alfresco Partner fme came up with a solution based on angularJS. The main selling points I see are „lightweight, easy to maintain on premise system with dedicated user interface“ (AngularJS awesomeness does not count here). I guess it can equally run standalone or hosted in share.
Another product which popped up recently is Morpheus Drive by Alfresco Partner Rivet Logic. It consists of an IDE component and a consumer component. It involves data replication and at least two Alfresco repositories. The IDE component manages consumer appearance and provides preview and publishing functionality. Just as with the fme solution, the consumer UI seems to be a major selling point.
Alfresco One by Alfresco is the „full featured very large scale“ solution. It claims to encompass security, business processes, provides „full control“ and maintainance of (most ?) metadata everywhere. It involves replication and Alfresco in the cloud, and it is available for the Enterprise Edition only.
If you consider to build file sharing based on Alfresco, you should check that the solution (really!) matches actual requirements (… and budget of course).
Things to consider include
- Technical Complexity/Maintainance (e.g. Replication)
- Ease of Use
- Reach (e.g. Mobile)
- Business Processes
- Metadata Maintainance
Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.