Entries from March 2009 ↓

AIIMing for Philly

Katey Wood and I will be in Philadelphia next week for the annual AIIM Expo.

I’m presenting on Tuesday in a session billed:  The Next Wave of WCM: Social Web Content Management.  Here I’ll be looking at something I’ve blogged about before, that is the potential overlap between the nascent social software efforts from WCM vendors and pure social software products for customer-facing sites.

The preso will provide a snapshot of what is happening in both WCM and social software, as far as customer sites go, and try to outline some pros and cons of taking different approaches in terms of vendor selection.  I also have a few quick case studies of customers that have a) gone with an independent provider of community/social software b) utilized the social features of an existing WCM provider or c) worked with open source that kind of straddles the line between the two.

Katey and I will also be using AIIM as an opportunity to talk with vendors, IT folks and business users more about content management and archiving for compliance and eDiscovery purposes.  We’re in the early stages of a report on the emergence of “information governance” as a sector within ECM.

The schedule is getting tight but don’t hesitate to contact me if you’ll be there.

Interwoven for WCM — now with IDOL

Just wanted to make a quick addition to Nick’s post about Interwoven search.

The Interwoven name is not lost entirely, it is just being removed from the WorkSite, RecordsManager and Universal Search products in favor of reviving the iManage brand.  I’m not sure why Autonomy wants to bring more brands into the mix, when there is already Autonomy Zantaz, Autonomy Meridio and so forth; the overall info governance story might seem stronger if the individual components weren’t all still branded separately.

In any event, we have Autonomy Interwoven Web Solutions now, which does make sense since WCM is what the Interwoven brand has always been most strongly associated with, despite its success in the legal market.

And it appears there’s been some IDOL magic with Interwoven TeamSite, similar to what Nick described with Universal Search.  Autonomy announced today that:

Autonomy’s core infrastructure software, the Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL), is now the underlying technology for TeamSite in version 6.7.2.

We haven’t been briefed yet on what exactly this means but again, as Nick noted, the speed of these integrations leaves us scratching our heads, unless this is the fruition of some work that was started prior to the acquisition.  The press release does also note:

A series of new modules leveraging additional capabilities IDOL brings to TeamSite will be released over the coming months.

We’ll be getting all the details in the coming weeks and will provide more comprehensive analysis at that point.

Interwoven search – now you see it, now you don’t

So Autonomy has closed the acquisition of Interwoven and released a few details of its product plans. We’ll be hearing more in detail from senior management in the next couple of weeks, but a couple of things jump out at you when  you peruse that document.

Firstly the usual, magical IDOL integration has happened again. What Autonomy is calling iManage Universal Search, is of course very similar in name to Interwoven’s Universal Search, which was powered by Interwoven’s agreement with Vivisimo.  Now, just like that! – Vivisimo has been swapped out for IDOL. That’s not surprising of course, as everything Autonomy does is based on IDOL.

But the speed of integration seems unlike anything else we see in the industry and leaves us scratching our heads as to how this can actually happen so quickly, especially as we don’t believe IDOL to be a very lightweight, REST-like interface or anything like that.

Secondly, it looks as if the various product names within Interwoven – iManage, Discovery Mining, TeamSite and so on will be retained, while the company name disappears.

But, as I say, we’ll hear more soon and will report back in the form of a research update on Autonomy.

Sybase places its bet for CEP

And then there were four again. Sybase’s announcement of its new complex event processing product is interesting, not least since it sheds some new light on the merger of Aleri and Coral8.

Sybase had previously hedged its bets on CEP by partnering with Aleri, StreamBase and Coral8, although we suspected that wouldn’t last forever. Rather than acquire a CEP vendor, the announcement provides a clue that Sybase has elected to license the technology for its new Sybase CEP product from Coral8: “SQL-like CCL language for application development”.

When Marc at the Magmasystem blog noted that “a large database company had purchased a source code license for Coral8” Sybase was always the likely candidate, and that deal no doubt had a significant influence on Coral’s decision to sell and Aleri’s decision to buy.

Coral8 is the complementary choice given its focus outside Sybase’s preliminary target of financial services (only 45% of Coral8’s customers are in capital markets), although Coral8’s recent acquisition by Aleri means Sybase will be using the CEP technology to compete directly with its new owner.

I am still somewhat surprise that Sybase decided it didn’t want the technology and sales expertise that it would have got from an acquisition rather than a licensing deal, especially since Sybase also plans to use the CEP technology to target the telecommunications, healthcare and government sectors.

Additionally, Aleri insists that “The licensing arrangement allows Sybase to embed CEP capabilities within and ONLY WITHIN Sybase products such as RAP. Sybase is NOT allowed to offer or sell a standalone CEP product. A Sybase customer can use the embedded CEP engine ONLY within Sybase RAP.”

What will NOT be in the next version of SharePoint

I might catch a lot of readers with that title, but of course I don’t really know for sure what will and won’t be in the next version of SharePoint.  Microsoft is still mum on the topic and I suspect will remain so until the SharePoint Conference slated for October.  This event was held in March last year; it seems logical it has been delayed this year to time the event with Office 14 announcements specific to SharePoint.

I read Guy Creese’s post last week on what he thinks will be in the next version of SharePoint and like Guy, I get a lot of questions in this vein.  I agree with Guy that SharePoint.next will have search improvements (we already know that one) and more sophisticated administration (we all hope). I’ll be surprised to see dramatic improvements in the transition between hosted and on-premise SharePoint in this version, I think the marketing is likely to lead the reality in this area for sometime to come, but perhaps I’ll be surprised.

I often get questions more specifically (from vendors) around what Microsoft isn’t going to do and reading Guy’s post, I thought it would be interesting to comment on what’s left out.

On the social software front…

There’s been some debate of late about whether or not SharePoint is an “Enterprise 2.0” tool at all (or what, in fact, that even means, if anything). But anyone who saw Lawrence Liu pitch SharePoint versus IBM Lotus Connections to a packed room at Enterprise 2.0 last year, would certainly assume Microsoft has ambitions in this area.  It’s worth noting however that Liu left Microsoft not long after that for Telligent Systems, which sells community software as an adjunct to SharePoint.  Liu presumably knows more about the SharePoint roadmap than we do, so looking at Telligent’s roadmap (limited version here) is probably a good indication of where Microsoft won’t go in social software in this next release (think community analytics, bridging internal and external communities, and feed aggregation).

It’s not about WCM.

Making SharePoint ubiquitous for content-based collaboration is Microsoft’s number one goal and this means improved admin, search and social software, to my mind.   So what will get left out?   I don’t think we’ll see any major changes on the WCM front.  Microsoft marketed the WCM capabilities in MOSS 2007 when it first came out, as it stopped development on its stand-alone WCM product, Microsoft CMS (which came from its 2001 acquisition of nCompass) in favor of Sharepoint.  But this seems to have died down and vendors like Sitecore are doing well selling more sophisticated WCM with SharePoint integrations, apparently with cooperation from Microsoft.  WCM for large, customer-facing sites, is really not where SharePoint strengths lie and Microsoft will likely let this one stand much as it is as it invests in other areas (Sitecore even sells a bundle for intranets, showing some market opportunity for WCM even in SharePoint’s sweet spot).

What about records management and archiving?

There’s some records management today in SharePoint, but it’s limited to SharePoint environments.  Improved admin across server farms could help here but it doesn’t seem likely Microsoft is going to go far beyond this and this doesn’t address the archiving issue at all.  Vendors like Open Text, Symantec and EMC are banking on their products’ abilities to manage and archive content (including email) from multiple repositories including SharePoint.  And this seems like a market that will be relatively immune to changes in SharePoint.next — indeed, changes that make SharePoint more popular are likely only good news to these vendors, at least in the short term.

I’m sure there are other gaps vendors are filling where they may be some continued opportunity after SharePoint.next, but those are the big ones that jump to my  mind.

CEP consolidation begins as Aleri acquires Coral8

Covering the the complex event specialists just got 25% easier. We noted in September last year that the complex event processing (CEP) specialists StreamBase Systems, Aleri and Coral8 were attractive acquisition targets and that it would only be a matter of time before we saw consolidation in the event processing sector. Consolidation among those vendors wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, but that is what has come to pass as Aleri has announced the acquisition of Coral8 for an undisclosed fee.

The combined entity, which continues to use the Aleri name, is now claiming to be the largest CEP specialist on the market, although that is debatable and we expect it to be strongly debated by StreamBase and Progress Software’s Apama division.

Here are the numbers to be debated: All of Coral8’s 45 employees are joining Aleri, which will have a combined headcount of 95 and will boast 80 paying customers, less than five of which are existing customers of both companies.

We will have a full assessment of the deal and its implications out later today, but our first impressions are as follows:

While the acquisition of Coral8 by Aleri may appear at first glance like a combination of near-equals the resulting business stands to benefit from complementary product and sales strategies that should bring about cost savings via reduced duplication of effort and enable further expansion outside financial services.

CEP is becoming a core enabling technology for data processing and analysis and the new Aleri is well positioned to build on its established position in capital markets and exploit partnerships with business intelligence and data warehousing vendors for wider adoption

Attivio, Exalead and the new ‘search’ market

I had a very interesting conversation with Attivio recently. Most of it is confidential and thus not enough for me to wrote a full 451 report on it yet (but I will as soon as we’re able to), but I can say that the startup founded mostly by former employees of FAST Search & Transfer that has a couple of public customers has some much more interesting news coming down the pike in coming months. It just announced one of these customers, here.

We talked about what is triggering the customer wins it is getting and one thing stood out; the key value prop Attivio has been focused on from the start, which is the conjoining of structured and unstructured data. But it’s not just about having access to both types (that was possibly years ago and anyway there’s myriad types between those two simplistic and oft-confused descriptions, but bear with me). And it’s not just the ability be able to query them both; that too has been done, but crucially with different tools in the past.

It’s the ability to switch between both based on what the user is doing – not based on what type of data is being queried – to do so without the user knowing and having a single API for access to both types. And that, say the Attivio team, is hitting home with customers.

Attivio is not the only company to be thinking like that of course. Attivio’s management’s alma mater FAST was doing this for a while as a product called Adaptive Information Warehouse. We wrote a report on it in January 2007 under the headline: FAST: everything you thought you knew about BI is wrong. And there are other companies both positioning their products this way and winning customers doing it. See our recent report on Exalead for another example and we’re sure IBM could build its customers just such a system if they paid enough.

The challenge with this idea is of course that for the past 30 years or so relational databases have been where the ‘important stuff’ has been stored and the multi-billion BI market grew on top of that as a way to access it. Database administrators rule(d) the roost as far as information management goes. Meanwhile enterprise search got relegated to a side room where it was all about finding documents and getting pages and pages of results returned to you. What Attivio, Exalead and a few other companies are moving towards is a convergence of the two; call it database offloading, unified information access; unified information intelligence or something similar.

We’re not seeing these vendors being dragged kicking and screaming towards this single-API-no-matter-what-the-data-is nirvana by their customers, however; it takes a fair amount of market education on the parts of the vendors and their partner to make it a reality. But given what we see happening here, we expect to hear alot more from the vendors mentioned here and others throughout 2009 and beyond as enterprise search morphs into something new.