Zach Urlocker, Executive VP of Products at MySQL, blogged about how MySQL met Union Bank of California's scalability requirements with open source and now the bank is migrating from AIX to the LAMP stack. The top 25 bank's move is an indication that Financial Services are moving toward open source. When financial services are not afraid of open source and believe that it can meet their scale and security requirements, its not long before all other industries come to the same conclusion.
One of the main clusters of adoption that we are seeing with Alfresco is in Financial services. Four of the top 10 banks and two of the top 10 investment managers in the world are now using Alfresco. At least that we know of, since it is open source and who knows who else is using it. New financial forces like E*Trade are also using Alfresco. So is the American Stock Exchange. This is without even trying. There is only one bank that we targeted and I told them that it was my hobby to sell them. We don't sell, people just try it.
There are two factors that contribute toward this. Financial Services have always been natural early adopters. In general, banks and investment banks in particular attract aggressive risk takers. They like new things and they search for competitive advantage through experimentation. The second factor has to do with that advantage. With the cost of IT on average at 20% or more, reducing the cost of IT through open source eventually becomes a no brainer.
There is one other interesting factor for Alfresco in particular. ECM is a big deal due to the regulation of the industry, but it is expensive, even for a bank, to role out across the entire enterprise. There is a hole in the ECM market for financial services that can be filled with either Microsoft Sharepoint or Alfresco. The price factor is important in filling that hole. However, Sharepoint requires development in .NET, which banks are reluctant to swallow.
Alfresco, being a 100% Java application and open to whatever development platform you want, fits much more neatly into the huge investment that banks have made in IT. As one investment bank put it, "We have made a huge investment in our Service Oriented Architecture. Alfresco being built as a web services enabled ECM platform fits perfectly with our IT vision."