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How well would Alfresco meet these requirements?

Question asked by deane on Dec 8, 2008
Latest reply on Dec 10, 2008 by deane
I have a client interested in using Alfresco for a data management project.  Based on my research, I think it will work well, but I'd like to note a few requirements here, and see if you agree.

My client sells big-ticket, semi-custom built Items.  Think car dealer, but a couple orders magnitude bigger and more expensive.  They want a central database to track these Items.  They have an Access-based system now, but it has reached its limits, and has no capability to manage associated file data, which is critical.

A record to describe one of their Items would have 20-30 fields of strongly-typed data, and more than a dozen files.  Alfresco seems like a good tool to manage this since it obviously has great file management, and a record can be managed by multiple people through the entire lifecycle of planning, construction, marketing, and pre- and post-sales activity – about 18 months worth of effort.

Additionally, this database will feed the catalog on their Web site.  My idea is to have some export feature keyed to a publish event that pushes records into a relational database running on the Web site (the Web site has much more going on, so it can't be powered solely by Alfresco).

My first stab at technical implementation would be to have an Item represented by a Space.  This Space would contain an XML file with the field-based data, and multiple files (perhaps in sub-spaces?).  I don't know if this is right, but a logical Item is composited of the field-based data and the associated files, so whatever the Item representation is, it has to be container-ish, so it can hold everything to do with that item.

Is this roughly correct, in terms of how to manage relational database-ish data in Alfresco?  With a managed XML file?  Or is there a way to run content objects off a custom-built database table?

Additionally, is there a way to associate the field-based data to the Space itself?  So the Space could represent an Item, and contain all the files to support it?  I could be way off here, but my background is RDBs, so my plans are no-doubt biased in that direction.

Let me know your thoughts.  Is Alfresco a good choice for something like this?