Ingres, Alfresco Debut Open-source SharePoint Rival

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Open-source vendors Ingres and Alfresco are teaming up on a software appliance that bundles the Ingres database with Alfresco's content management platform, hoping the combination will prove to be an enticing alternative to Microsoft SharePoint.

The two vendors have already bundled their products but decided to go a step further with the appliance, which adds a Linux operating system and can be installed on commodity hardware, said Deb Woods, vice president of product management at Ingres.

"One of the pieces of feedback we got [from the bundle] was that customers wanted to get up and running more quickly," she said.

The appliance will also provide customers with a single point of contact for support, which will be provided by Ingres.

Ingres, which previously released a BI (business-intelligence) appliance that uses software from JasperSoft, sees appliances as an easier way to get its technology into customers' hands, Woods said. "A lot of companies aren't necessarily looking for another database."

Nor may they be inclined to rip and replace SharePoint, but Alfresco's support for SharePoint and Office protocols means that wouldn't be necessary. SharePoint tightly integrates with Office applications, and the protocols allow Alfresco to act as a stand-in on the back end.

Ingres will charge US$32,500 per CPU (central processing unit) for subscription support per year for the appliance, with CPUs counted by the socket. In comparison, the company charges $8,000 for per socket for the core database product.

The ECM appliance should provide "an attractive choice" for customers in the market for collaboration tools, as well as systems integrators who want to build alternatives to SharePoint, according to 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett.

But it is unclear just how much of a pure technological leap has been made here, said Curt Monash, founder of Monash Research, via e-mail.

"Ingres' appliances have always seemed to be more about pricing and distribution than technology," he said. "If they've simplified configuration and installation, good for them. But the most successful appliances are usually those that were designed to be appliances from the ground up."

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