What Comes After Cloud Collaboration? Alfresco CEO Shares His Vision

With a penchant for scalability and modularity, Alfresco’s free enterprise cloud management software has a steady eye on open source trends.  Having recently come out of beta, Alfresco’s tools are now available for the general public.  Alfresco’s moving swiftly, having also initiated its plans for an IPO.

The company’s CEO John Powell hopes Alfresco’s public offering will be as impactful as Red Hat’s, as they look to innovate around cloud services and real-time delivery.  In fact, real-time capabilities is a cornerstone of Alfresco’s capabilities, and happens to be one of the top three trends Powell is following right now.  In today’s CEO Series, Powell shares his plans for Alfresco’s IPO, his strategy for the consumer cloud and what he expects from the industry after cloud collaboration.

You often see consumer clouds moving upstream to the enterprise, though many enterprise trends tend to trickle down to consumers.  What’s your strategy and expectations for launching Alfresco cloud for the consumer market?

The key challenge for consumer products is are they good enough to get enterprises on board. Enterprises are often attracted to these solutions for cost reasons however the ‘cost’ of delivering enterprise levels of security, administration and integration often prevents these tools from truly becoming an enterprise standard. This is the reason Microsoft Exchange/Outlook has held out against Google Apps.

Alfresco has always been delivering on enterprise class functionality while providing simple interfaces for user adoption. This was key in our open source freemium model as those first user experiences are the gateway to enterprise adoption unlike a traditional proprietary enterprise solution. Alfresco has also embraced the best practices from consumer software – for example, allowing users to choose their preferred synchronization tools. This trend to ‘simplify for the user’ is happening faster with our cloud service where we can use real-time testing to deliver great user experience.

See the entire CEO Series with Kristen Nicole on Pinterest and Springpad!


You’ve been under the radar, despite a massive global reach and nearly $100 million in annual revenue.  How will the public react to your upcoming IPO?

Alfresco’s upcoming IPO will be the first tech IPO of business critical enterprise software since Red Hat’s IPO and promises to deliver a company of bigger market potential. Alfresco has a proven track record in large-scale enterprise deployments (2,500 enterprise customers in just 7 years vs Jive’s 600 in 8 years) a truly global business (customers in 75 countries, 55% of revenues generated outside the USA) and profitable with a low capital requirement. With our multi-tenant cloud offering, we have a unique proposition of hybrid cloud for enterprises who want traditional on-premise deployment, but cloud delivery for elastic computing and B2B collaboration. This will take us from a $4B addressable market to $16B offering investors phenomenal growth potential without the risk of reliance on a single market.

What comes after cloud collaboration?

B2B collaboration is the most common use case for cloud computing. However, as enterprises become more comfortable with putting their key business records and IP into cloud delivered services we will see enterprises switch these use cases to Alfresco’s cloud service, which is able to provide these capabilities both on-premise and in the cloud.

In addition, we will offer a new generation of task management capabilities for personal productivity that can be delivered across any device to the mobile business worker. This will leverage our rich metadata (context for the task), social collaboration capabilities (colleagues and expertise), enterprise search (all relevant knowledge) and workflow (task management).

Given your growing presence in a rather in-demand sector, what gives you confidence in/for the future?

We have created a world-class software product delivered with a highly disruptive business model on a global scale with 24*7 access. We are market leaders in a fast growing business mandated category that is key to support the mobile enterprise. Alfresco’s management has a track record in building category leading enterprise software companies (DCTM acquired by EMC for $1.6B and BOBJ acquired by SAP for $7.0B) and understands the challenges of the global maker and the needs of today’s investor looking for low risk, high growth technology stocks.

Photo: Robert Finkelstein



Most fun project?

Renovating a cliff top cottage.

Favorite aspect of the cloud?

The ability to instantly sign-up and access powerful file-sharing, document and enterprise content management services like Alfresco.

3 trends you’re watching?

(1) Real-time, bio-metric reaction to content – a new class of metadata for media and advertising,

(2) NoSQL for cloud scale task management,

(3) Next generation wifi/ mobile broadband to enable seamless rich media and enhanced reality for mobile devices.