Dana Blankenhorn over at sister publication ZDNet has a great analysis of the looming Microsoft Sharepoint threat. As Dana points out, it's a threat that open source is well-suited to meet and beat, but doing so will require some project coordination.
Interestingly, it's a threat that the proprietary Enterprise Content Management vendors have rejected as credible, even as Sharepoint boots them out of customer accounts. While ECM, operating system, database, etc. vendors sleep, Sharepoint is gaining ground.
If only open source could get its act together:
The real problem is not, as Mary Jo Foley reports, Microsoft studies showing SharePoint is cheaper than open source alternatives. The problem is that very few companies are using ECM technology already. It?s a compelling opportunity, and it?s a totally green field....
That's the problem. Until Microsoft entered the market ECM was going nowhere fast. Now it is going somewhere fast, but where it?s going is being determined by Microsoft.
I can tell you from experience that traditional proprietary ECM vendors are easy to beat in an account. Sharepoint is a little harder because Microsoft does a good job of selling the business value to the end-users, and because its cost (while not cheap) is considerably less than IBM, EMC Documentum, etc. Sharepoint is a good product that is improving the ECM market.
But if you're an operating system, application server, database, etc. vendor, Sharepoint is not your friend. Why? Because it only works with Microsoft technology. Sharepoint is an all-or-nothing value proposition which takes people into the Microsoft ecosystem but lets none out. EMC Documentum and others have their problems, but at least they understand the boundary between their businesses and those of their database/application server/directory/etc. partners. Not so Microsoft.
Microsoft is like a pushy, smothering friend. You're allowed to have one best friend, and it's always got to be Microsoft. I can't think of a single other vendor that requires such a bargain....
Full disclosure: I work for Alfresco, an open-source competitor to Microsoft's Sharepoint.