Alfresco open source content managementAlfresco, which positions itself as the open source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint, is getting very serious about the IT channel. After joining the Open Source Channel Alliance in April, Alfresco is playing an encore and expects to sign up 40 new system integrator partners in North and South America this year. Here's the scoop.

First, a little background. As financial markets improve, The VAR Guy suspects Alfresco will be among the first open source companies in line to pursue an IPO (initial public offering). Sources close to the company suggest Alfresco has been growing and has remained cash-flow positive during the recession.

Impressive. But that's not all. Alfresco landed near the top of The VAR Guy's Open Source 50 report, which tracks the world's most promising open source partner programs. In April 2009, Alfresco signed on with Red Hat and Synnex to join the Open Source Channel Alliance, which could empower 15,000 resellers to promote open source solutions.  And during the Red Hat Summit (Sept. 1-4, Chicago), Alfresco and Red Hat are expected to discuss how Alfresco, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss middleware provide a low-cost alternative to Microsoft SharePoint.

Alfresco also is hedging its Linux bets, working more closely with Canonical's Ubuntu Server Edition in recent months.

Partners Still March Toward Microsoft

Still, it's important to give Microsoft equal time on the subject. Let's not forget, SharePoint now is a $1 billion annual business for Microsoft. Pretty darn impressive. And plenty of VARs are profiting from SharePoint engagements. As of 2008, Microsoft had 2,250 certified SharePoint integration partners, InformationWeek says.

In stark contrast, Alfresco expects to have, ahem, 40 system integration partners this year [UPDATE, AUG. 12, 2009: Correction, 80 SIs this year] .

Alfresco -- like many open source companies -- is only starting to find its way in the IT channel. The company says it's expanding a North and South American partner program for system integrators (SI) "in response to increasing demand." In fact, Alfresco claims it's on track to more than double its number of SI partners across the Americas by the end of 2009.

Alfresco's Partner Pitch

The Partner Program, Alfresco says, includes:
  • Turnkey enablement including both sales and technical training
  • Lead sharing for services and resell opportunities
  • Partner Solution Showcase to promote applications developed on the Alfresco platform
  • Joint business planning and dedicated resources for business development activities
  • Joint marketing opportunities and assistance
  • Speaking opportunities at Alfresco and industry events
  • Access to an Alfresco Enterprise subscription and technical support
  • Access to Alfresco portal for knowledge-base sales and marketing materials
  • Promoting solutions in the upcoming Partner Solution Showcase
Hmmm. The VAR Guy is particularly curious about that last bullet point. A partner solution showcase? Sounds interesting. Memo to Jary Carter at Alfresco: Keep The VAR Guy posted.

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