Entries Tagged 'Collaboration' ↓

Previewing Information Management in 2012

Every New Year affords us the opportunity to dust down our collective crystal balls and predict what we think will be the key trends and technologies dominating our respective coverage areas over the coming 12 months.We at 451 Research just published our 2012 Preview report; at almost 100 pages it’s a monster, but offers some great insights across twelve technology subsectors, spanning from managed hosting and the future of cloud to the emergence of software-defined networking and solid state storage; and everything in between. The report is available to both 451Research clients and non-clients (in return for a few details); access the landing page here.  There’s a press release of highlights here. Also, mark your diaries for a webinar discussing report highlights on Thursday Feb 9 at noon ET, which will be open for clients and non-clients to attend. Registration details to follow soon…

Here are a selection of key takeaways from the first part of the Information Management preview, which focuses on information governance, ediscovery, search, collaboration and file sharing. (Matt Aslett will be posting highlights of part 2, which focuses more on data management and analytics, shortly.)

  • One of the most obvious common themes that will continue to influence technology spending decisions in the coming year is the impact of continued explosive data and information growth.  This  continues to shape new legal frameworks and technology stacks around information governance and e-discovery, as well as to drive a new breed of applications growing up around what we term the ‘Total Data’ landscape.
  • Data volumes and distributed data drive the need for more automation and auto-classification capabilities will continue to emerge more successfully in e-discovery, information governance and data protection veins — indeed, we expect to see more intersection between these, as we noted in a recent post.
  • The maturing of the cloud model – especially as it relates to file sharing and collaboration, but also from a more structured database perspective – will drive new opportunities and challenges for IT professionals in the coming year.  Looks like 2012 may be the year of ‘Dropbox for the enterprise.’
  • One of the big emerging issues that rose to the fore in 2011, and is bound to get more attention as the New Year proceeds, is around the dearth of IT and business skills in some of these areas, without which the industry at large will struggle to harness and truly exploit the attendant opportunities.
  • The changes in information management in recent years have encouraged (or forced) collaboration between IT departments, as well as between IT and other functions. Although this highlights that many of the issues here are as much about people and processes as they are about technology, the organizations able to leap ahead in 2012 will be those that can most effectively manage the interaction of all three.
  • We also see more movement of underlying information management infrastructures into the applications arena.  This is true with search-based applications, as well as in the Web-experience management vein, which moves beyond pure Web content management.  And while Microsoft SharePoint continues to gain adoption as a base layer of content-management infrastructure, there is also growth in the ISV community that can extend SharePoint into different areas at the application-level.

There is a lot more in the report about proposed changes in the e-discovery arena, advances of the cloud, enterprise search and impact of mobile devices and bring-your-device-to-work on information management.

Who said you can’t go home again?

Every new year represents some change; the hope of new challenges and opportunities. It is not all that often that a fresh new year also brings such literal and fundamental change, as it has for me this year. I ended 2011 on the vendor-side of things – and I am starting 2012 on the analyst side.

Of course, this is highly familiar ground for me. I was not only an analyst with 451 Research previously, but I have also been a demi-analyst of sorts through my blogging and other non-traditional marketing activities with both SugarCRM  and Basho Technologies.

Coming back to 451 Research is exciting for many reasons: this has always been a great team of highly intelligent individuals with great vision, and the type of analysis here is right up my alley.

In that vein, I wanted to give a heads up around the kinds of technology innovation I plan to make my area of focus. I will cover, as I did in my first go-round here, on core CRM, ERP and other packaged applications. But the world of applications is changing, rapidly and in fascinating ways. I will also cover how social media (and other data sets) are influencing how developers build applications – and how end-users interact with them. Also, I see the cloud and platform-as-a-service creating new and exciting applications choices for businesses of all sizes. PaaS means many things to many people, but I believe we will see even more PaaS development around enterprise apps in the coming months.

As noted above, Data in all its forms and sources is changing how we approach business. We have moved from leaving most of our enterprise data out of the applications we use daily to thinking about “Total Data” in just a few short years. This is an exciting area of technology development, and how data analysis plays into modern apps will be a focus. I am excited about working with the like of Matt Aslett and other team members on this research.

I am also excited to be working with Kathleen Reidy around how technologies such as enterprise search, text analytics, and collaboration/content management tools are shaping new concepts like the “social enterprise.”

Mobile apps – in the business sense – have taken much more of a front seat since I last covered applications – so I will try to keep on top of mobile as well. And again, this will be a collaborative effort to augment this existing strong mobile coverage here.

To sum up…essentially, if it lies at the top of the stack, and is indicative of “cool new tech” – I will probably be interested.

I look forward to speaking with some new, old and familiar technology providers. A lot has changed in the last five years since I last wore an analyst’s hat. But following this change from the vendor-side has given me an interesting angle. I hope my research and ideas offered through 451 Research’s many outlets reflects this in a positive and valuable manner for our ever-growing audience.

Vendors are lining up to get into the cloud file-sharing ‘box’

We recently published a spotlight report on cloud file sharing and sync, file backup and file-oriented collaboration in the cloud – and all the overlaps and intersections between these areas.  The full report is available here for 451 Research subscribers (link requires log-in).

The idea was to shed some light on this sector that often seems to be described by its two best known players – Dropbox and Box.  Despite the similar names, the services offered by these two providers have significant differences.  And each is after a different, though in some cases overlapping, target market.

Dropbox in particular seems to be gaining a lot of attention from enterprise IT departments — and it’s not all good.  As compliance, security, risk and IT folks in general try to get their arms around the fact that corporate data is moving to Dropbox (and other services), a number of providers have started to look at providing alternatives.  All of this largely driven of course by the widespread use of iPads and other mobile devices by business users and their need to access files from these devices and keep them in sync across mobile and desktop systems.  Box exploits this requirement as well, but offers more file-oriented collaboration capabilities, though not full-blown content management in the traditional sense.

Cloud file sharing, sync and mobile support for file collaboration will all be hot topics in 2012.  We feel we might quickly be inundated by the number of providers that want to offer some kind of alternative to Dropbox to appease IT departments and/or better mobile access to existing enterprise content systems, like SharePoint.  Below is our first-stab attempt to start to map some of this to the sub-sectors within this broader and rapidly shifting landscape.  And we know it’s not comprehensive, the players here are changing almost daily.

Cloud file backup, sharing, sync and collaboration providers

Source: 451 Research

The SharePoint ecosystem and the cloud

Looking further into the growing ecosystem of vendors that extend and support Microsoft SharePoint, we get to the question of where ISVs fit when SharePoint is in the cloud.  The short answer, really, is that they don’t.  OK, that’s an oversimplification of course, but there is currently a far more limited role for third parties looking to extend SharePoint if it is run in a shared cloud environment.  And this points to some contradictions in Microsoft’s strategy.  On the one hand, we see a big push around SharePoint as a platform and this growing ecosystem of third parties.  On the other hand, Microsoft is touting SharePoint Online as part of the upcoming Office 365 cloud-based service (to replace the existing Business Productivty Online Suite, aka BPOS), which really has very little support for third parties.

BPOS, which bundles SharePoint Online along with Exchange and a few other services, is currently offered in both Standard and Dedicated versions.   In the Standard version, customers have multi-tenant infrastructure that is shared across customers.  With the Dedicated version (or BPOS D), they have (obviously) dedicated infrastructure, which pretty much traditional application hosting; with this BPOS D configuration, Microsoft is the hosting provider, though this scenario would really not be much different from having another hosting provider run your SharePoint deployment on dedicated servers.  Office 365 will also be made available on either shared or dedicated infrastructure.

There is currently no support for trusted third-party code in the Standard version of BPOS (aka BPOS S), nor will there be in the Office 365 Standard version.  Customers that want to extend their SharePoint deployment with, say, workflow tools from Nintex or imaging capabilities from KnowledgeLake (or any of their own custom code), will have to run their SharePoint deployments on prem or in a dedicated environment, hosted by either Microsoft or another hosting provider.

That isn’t to say that integration with BPOS / Office 365 is impossible — web services-based integration that requires no server-side installs on the SharePoint servers isn’t an issue.  So, for example, Metavis Technologies has migration tools that can move data to / from BPOS without installing anything on the SharePoint servers and so can work with SharePoint as part of BPOS S (and Office 365 presumably).  Similarly, on the Exchange side of BPOS, email archiving to a cloud provider like LiveOffice works via a data export function that doesn’t touch the cloud-based Exchange servers.

Maybe the argument is that orgs don’t want to run more sophisticated content management apps in pure cloud environments.  That may be an ok way to segment the market today but it will be limiting in the future.   One of the advantages Microsoft has today over an upstart cloud player, like Box.net for example, is the growing ecosystem of extensions that can help fit SharePoint into a broad array of use cases.  But these aren’t there in the cloud. If Box (or another player) could grow and support an ecosystem in the cloud (and support custom code and in-house developers), it might get some advantage; this is the strategy SpringCM has been attempting, with some, limited success, with its platform approach to ECM in the cloud.  Salesforce has also been more aggressively building its social software offering, Chatter (see recent acquisition of Dimdim as case in point).  This doesn’t meet a plethora of content management requirements yet but is potentially competitive to SharePoint as a social software service for internal use.

There are clear limitations to the approach Microsoft is currently taking with the SharePoint ecosystem and BPOS / Office 365 and it seems this will be something that Microsoft will have to ultimately address if it wants to be serious about offering SharePoint as cloud services.  This isn’t the only issue that might keep organizations away from the Standard version of Office 365 (i.e., how much SharePoint functionality will it include and how often will it rev?), but it could be a big one.

Why Autonomy won’t – or shouldn’t – buy Open Text

At the time of Autonomy’s Q2 results last week, a fair few commentators said an acquisition of Open Text was imminent. We know that a large deal is imminent and the enterprise value of Open Text (OTEX) is in Autonomy’s ball park. Plus OTEX – itself a roll-up machine somewhat akin to Autonomy –  isn’t exactly in the rudest of health right now.

On the earnings calls CEO Mike Lynch said Autonomy’s next major acquisition would not be done to buy growth (we have already expressed our thoughts on that), nor would it be done simply because the price is right. It would have to be a strategic move, a game-changer. Well, OTEX isn’t that, in our mind at least. So what would such a deal give Autonomy?

Sure, it would give it practically all the document management business in the legal sector. But so what? Autonomy already has a lot of that via its Interwoven acquisition. It would also bring with it yet more overlapping content management products and a collaboration business being eaten by SharePoint. On the plus side, it would roughly triple Autonomy’s customer base to about 65,000 organizations.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and August 18 could be the date on which that is proved, as it’s OTEX’s Q4 results announcement. That is, if SAP hasn’t got there first.

Still, Tibco or Informatica make far more sense to us as truly strategic acquisitions for Autonomy. But of course, in order to buy something you have to find a willing seller, and we’re not so certain those sorts of companies relish the prospect of ending up inside Autonomy as much as a company that has few other choices might do.

Gilbane takeaways: Social merging with WCM, open source on the rise and portals never left us

Such a busy three days at Gilbane Boston this year, I hardly had time to even follow the tweet stream from the event.  I was involved in four sessions and best I can do at this point is to recap a few of the key highlights from each.

The open source session I presented with Seth Gottlieb got some good response and was apt I think given the much larger presence of open source at the show overall this year.  Someone told me (but I didn’t confirm) that last year there were two open source booths on the show floor and this year there were six (dotCMS, Hippo, Nuxeo, Magnolia and Plone were the ones I counted – who am I missing?).  Alfresco and Acquia were notably absent I thought, though were both were represented on a couple of panels.

Open source also came up in the panel I moderated on portals, as we had Chris Stavros from LEVEL Studios there and Chris has done a lot of work with the Liferay portal.  We also had Glenn Mannke, Director of Intranet Development at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, talking with us about how they use Oracle Portal and how embedded this is in their overall infrastructure.  Russ Edelman lent his SharePoint perspective as did John Petersen from Sutro Software who has worked with the Vignette (now Open Text) portal for a number of years.  I’ll sum up the key takeaways from this panel as:

  • Portals never went away, even though the marketing died down.  They were victims of the hype earlier in the decade.  Glenn in particular emphasized how portals are only becoming more important in his organization as the number of tools and apps they manage proliferate.
  • John and Chris likened portals to a new Web OS that delivers application and infrastructure services.
  • We spent some time talking about what those services are exactly and the panelists agreed that identity management and SSO are crucial.
  • There was also some interesting discussion about client-side vs. server-side portals.  Is an app that can aggregate little windows on a screen a portal?  The panelists gave a resounding “no” to this question, given the lack of infrastructure services noted above.
  • And portal standards (e.g., JSR 286) weren’t noted as being particularly important.

I thought portals might also come up on the panel I hosted on social publishing.  This brought WCM vendors together with pure social software plays for a discussion about where these two market sectors are headed.  It was perhaps not quite as heated as I’d hoped, but there was a bit of controversy.  David Carter, CTO from Awareness and Adam Mertz, Product Marketer at Jive, admitted that their systems don’t do WCM and that many customers still need that function (I think particularly for external sites), but that social is important enough to warrant its own layer in the stack.  They argued that WCM systems aren’t architected to support the dynamic nature of social media.  Lars Trieloff from Day Software and Dmitri Tcherevik of FatWire definitely didn’t agreeBryan House of Acquia (Drupal) argued that open source does the best job blending the two.

In general though, I think the panelists agreed that social is becoming part of so many other things (there was some discussion of CRM + social as well).  That still leaves me scratching my head as to the future of the pure social software vendors (I asked if Jive might also get into WCM, but, not surprisingly, didn’t get a direct answer).

SharePoint came up in all of these sessions, as it also did on the analyst panel, not surprisingly as SharePoint has an impact in social, portals, WCM and just about every other aspect of ECM.  Microsoft had a big presence at Gilbane this year, a little surprising to me since Gilbane is generally a pretty WCM-focused show. I had the chance to sit down for about an hour with Ryan Duguid, a Microsoft product manager for ECM in the SharePoint group.  He insisted SharePoint plays in .com-type WCM scenarios and pointed me to this list, which I have seen before.  It’s just doesn’t seem to come up much though in talking with clients and vendors about WCM.  And I don’t see too much in the 2010 release that looks to change that.  Am I missing something?

Overall, a good lively show.  I heard attendance was up and the exhibit hall was full of vendors – there never seems to be a lull in the influx of new vendors to this space.  Lots of interesting conversations about social, open source and online marketing, which all bodes well for a continued vibrant market in 2010.

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.

From the Lotusphere…

In a surprisingly chilly Orlando, a surprisingly lively Lotusphere is going on this week.  IBM claims attendance is up 2% over a well attended event last year and in an environment when travel to events like this one is down.  That’s a good thing for IBM and the Lotus group, though Lotus loyalists are a fervent bunch and Lotusphere is an annual ritual for many (buttons like the one below, many with numbers much higher than this one, are worn proudly).

A perennial question for IBM is how to grow the market for the Lotus brand outside of this loyal group.  I agree with Mike Gotta from the Burton Group when he says in his pre-Lotusphere post this year:

“IBM needs a message that resonates beyond the “Notes faithful” that attend Lotusphere each year.”

Did I hear that message at Lotusphere?  I think it’s most accurate to say I heard some good attempts, some of which may well pan out but it’s too early to tell.

The most notable of these were IBM’s announcements around LotusLive (formerly known as Project Bluehouse).  LotusLive is a SaaS offering combining the web conferencing capabilities IBM got when it acquired WebDialogs in 2007 with file sharing and some of the social networking capabilities in Lotus Connections.  There’s also the inlusion of “hosted Notes” but the email components of LotusLive are likely to change and expand (especially given IBM’s acquisition of email provider Outblaze last week).

The main problem with LotusLive is that IBM is attempting to position it for two markets simultaneously, a tricky proposition.  On the one hand, it wants LotusLive to appeal to the SMB market, a sector that is definitely “beyond the Notes faithful” and a new market for Lotus.  But it is also positioning LotusLive as an extended collaboration environment for existing enterprise customers that want to collaborate with partners and clients in a secure, private, external environment.  Now these are both real and valid market opportunities, but they are different markets with different requirements and different competitors.  We’ve commented before on the difficulty of selling social software for both internal and external use cases and this will be compounded by the fact that Lotus is not a well established brand in the SMB market.

IBM has also continued to claim traction in the social software market and Lotus Connections is a strong product. The announced 2.5 release will add more capabilities, most notably the wiki that has been lacking to date, and Lotus clearly leads Microsoft in this area.   So far though, Connections seems to be having the biggest impact in the Notes installed base — that’s a good thing, as it’s one more reason for that Notes base to stay on Notes, but it doesn’t necessarily do much to attract new customers to Lotus.  We consistently hear that Lotus Connections is a strong competitor in Notes shops, but seen little elsewhere.

There could be some opportunity to sell Connections coupled with WebSphere Portal for use cases other than classic internal collaboration.  IBM claims adoption outside of the Notes installed base when Connections is tied to Portal but as noted earlier, external “social media” or community software is a fairly different market and one that IBM doesn’t seem to be after all that aggressively at the moment.

Also of note were demos of the latest enhancements to Lotus SameTime, showing that IBM continues to do a good job innovating in the area of on-premise software for real-time communications, another way that it can capture new customers.

The other major announcements at Lotusphere — Alloy, the jointly-developed SAP-Notes integration and extended integration with RIM’s BlackBerry devices — are mostly targeted at that loyal installed base of large customers.  Again, good in terms of keeping that installed base on board and happy, not to mention upselling them additional software but not exactly targeted at bringing new customers to the Lotus brand.

451 Group client event next week

It’s the annual event for 451 clients next week in Boston, MA.

Kathleen, Katey and myself will be there along with most other 451 analysts and would love to meet any and all readers of this blog there. I’ll be presenting and moderating a panel discussion with representatives of Attivio, Autonomy and Iron Mountain-Stratify that will discuss the future of enterprise search, how information management is affected by the financial crisis and, of course, eDiscovery.

Kathleen’s presentation examines trends on content technologies in particular where the opportunities exist around creating content, leveraging it and managing risk, i.e. information governance.

The complete agenda is here and here’s how to register. Hope to see you there!

Jive talk and social software

I was glad to see this post from Tony Byrne this morning with a more practical reaction to Jive’s layoffs.  I had been meaning to get something similar up myself.  Jive has grown quickly– from 43 employees when we first profiled the company in March 2007 to 160 in August of this year.  Maybe that growth was too far out ahead of revenue, but I can’t say that for sure and I don’t think anyone really foresaw how radically things were going to change economically or how quickly.

Staffing up for anticipated future growth and then scaling back when that growth is expected to be slow due to overall (unprecedented) market conditions seems like prudence to me, however unfortunate for those involved.  Jive took $15m in venture funds from Sequoia in September 2007 and unless your Internet was unplugged last week, you know how Sequoia is advising its portfolio companies.

More generally, I agree with Tony when he says “I don’t foresee a decline in the social software space that’s any steeper than we’ll see in other software categories.”  That is to say, it’s going to take a hit — most everything and everyone is really — but it’s not going to disappear.  I don’t really buy the rah-rah outlook either (no real irony intended by linking to a post from Jive’s Sam Lawrence here, it’s just a good exmaple) that says social software will let us work more cost effectively and transparently and thus do more with less. This may be true in some cases, but growth is going to slow all the same.  I think companies like Jive that have started to gain real name reconigition in the enterprise market, with many big name customers, will come through ok, though I’m not forecasting here which will remain independent.

I may not be quite as optimistic as Tony though. We make a particular effort here at The 451 Group to talk to all the start-ups, and there are too many of them with too similar “community” or social networking platforms for the enterprise.  Sometimes after I meet with a company, I decide not to write it up because it just sounds too similar to XYZ company I profiled last week.  I think this was generally felt by most everyone that walked the show floor at Enterprise 2.0 here in Boston last June.  As funding becomes more scarce and IT spending slows, some of these won’t make it, plain and simple, which is probably as it should be.