It is becoming quite the fad these days in the world of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) to make dramatic and seemingly generous gestures to liberate buyers locked into legacy systems.
Oracle has been promoting its MoveOff scheme, offering a 100% license credit for those who make the move from Documentum to its Oracle WebCenter Content platform. Likewise Alfresco offers free workshops to enable you to move from Microsoft SharePoint to its platform. Laserfiche also offered a 100% trade in allowance on existing ECM system if you moved to their platform.
So how good are these deals and what's really behind them?
Well for you the customer who is already quite determined to move off a legacy system, a switching offer might make sense, but frankly we have seen little uptake of such promotions. Moving from one system to another is seldom easy, and can be a high-risk venture. Moreover, upfront license costs are the least of your financial concerns these days: implementation and long-term maintenance costs are where the pocket really gets hit.
In fact at the higher end of the document and records management market few if any ever pay list pricing for ECM software, and many get those licenses for little or even nothing. At the end of the day it's the maintenance and professional services fees that interest suppliers. So an offer that gives you 3 free years of initial maintenance would be of much more interest and value, but alas such offers are not to be found.
As a buyer you need to be sure that free really means free and that you have fully weighed up the risks of moving from one system to another. It is something you may need to do one day regardless, but special deals should not be a major factor in your decision-making process. A thorough evaluation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternate products, as well as deep exploration of the product and suppliers' relative fit with your organization is what's required -- every time without exception.