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Alfresco Repoistory/Legacy App Integration

Question asked by jtcarm on Jan 15, 2009
Warning: Long post ahead!

I'm app dev manager/sys architect for a smallish organization in desperate need of ECM.  I'm none to enamoured of proprietary solutions, so I'm looking at Alfresco.  We have a heinz-57 of legacy applications/websites, spanning Visual Basic 6.0 thick-clients through Asp.Net 2.0/AJAX, and WSS.  Some years before my arrival, the organization spend Big Buck$ on Livelink ECM, which was never implemented.  I gave a thumbs-down to renewing $70K worth of annual support for something that was hardly being used.  Besides, it looked like support and customization of LL would easily blow my meager ECM budget, plus the biz already had such an unfavorable impression of LL, adoption would have been dicey at best.

So now, my big needs: Capture (Kofax), Document Repository, heavy Indexing and Search, and ability to integrate content from the repository into the legacy workflow apps listed above.  These apps all run atop an Oracle 9i data tier and implement workflows or bps that are very similar to insurance policy issuance/maintenance and mortgage approval, except the workflows require WAY more documents from WAY more diverse external entities than your normal insurance or mortgage app.  The only current digital document repository are blobs in the Oracle DB (don't wag fingers at me, it's all legacy), but I suspect the bulk is still in paper.

A wholesale technology refresh/rewrite is out of the question, and would likely be doomed due to the huge volume of sioled legacy apps/business processes.  As a first step towards updating/replacing the apps, I need to get the blobs out of the DB and automate the paper.  To accomplish this, we'll need the ability to index documents and integrate them with the real relational data (also in Oracle) in the legacy workflow applications, transparently, if possible.  Capture would be accomplished via Kofax, which we already have in-house.  Bar-coding and OCR are in the future, as well.

So I basically need a heavy-duty repository that will function like a relational DB, allow me index/search by the same keys my structured data uses, and expose this functionality in an API that client apps can consume.  Down the road, I do see us utlizing Alfresco for our internet portals, collaboration, workflow, but the immediate needs are going to be Capture and Repository (I did register for the Kofax/Alfresco webinar).