Best Three Free Liferay Alternatives

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Wed, 2013-07-03 18:46.
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Liferay is an awesome corporate intranet solution that has many advantages. After all, there just aren’t that many free opensource alternatives out there. Yet, the backside of this is that Liferay misses essential features (no SaaS version and mobile app, really?), is hard to upgrade, and documentation is not always there. Plus, unless you are an ubergeek or want to pay bucketloads to a qualified Liferay developer, who seem to be in hot demand, you just won’t be able to get it up and running on your own. If you are looking for a Liferay alternative, your choice is rather limited. But here are three Liferay alternatives that rock and are in some respects actually better than Liferay.

Bitrix24 is the most popular Liferay alternative by a wide, wide margin. Actually, Bitrix24 is what Liferay should have been – 100% free to small companies and non-profits (those with 12 employees or fewer), SaaS version that you can use within 30 seconds of signups, mobile and desktop apps, all the tools a typical business needs (CRM, PM, tasks, doc management, calendar, meetings, company structure, IM, records management, business processor constructor. etc), Dropbox-like Bitrix24.Drive, Skype-like video chat, integration with Google Apps (like Calendar) and Google Docs (it works with MS Office 365 too with some tweaking), support for multiple languages (actually more than listed on the site, available though numerous Bitrix24 partners, as I found out as neither Spanish nor Portuguese are listed while being available). Obviously the on-premise version is much more powerful and easily customizable than the SaaS version, but if I start listing all the features that come with ‘the box’, this review will never end.

Kolab is a popular German alternative to Liferay for those who think that collaboration a more important part of enterprise social network (vs. ‘I want a corporate Facebook’ approach). It’s hard to compare Kolab to Liferay and Bitrix24, because this groupware server is email-centric, while most enterprise social networks and social intranets are moving away from e-mail as the primary mean of collaboration and communication. With Kolab you get email, tasks, calendar, and notes, among other things. Mobile support is for all five major platforms – Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. Kolab has a very active community, but its design is very utilitarian (a nice euphemism for buttugly). I am not sure if it’s available in any languages other than German and English.

eXo is the last Liferay alternative worth mentioning. It seems to be finally getting traction, even though it was launched over a decade ago in 2002. It shares some of the disadvantages of Liferay and isn’t as good as Bitrix24, but is still worth looking into, if you can’t use Liferay, Bitrix24 or Kolab for some reason. eXo comes with social network, Wiki, Forum, Calendar, Document Management, FAQ, Events, Tasks, and Dashboards. The design is nice and clean, mobile app is fairly good, but in order to compete with Liferay and Bitrix24, eXo has to add more tools like CRM and Project Management that are currently unavailable as well as launch marketplace in order to be taken seriously. eXo seems to be the case of where (good) design tramps functionality so far.