IBM builds content management momentum

IBM Corp. is turning up the heat on its CM (content management) strategy, preparing a scaled-down version of its Content Manager product aimed at mid-sized companies.

Big Blue is also moving quickly to integrate technology designed to bolster e-records management, which it acquired from Tarian Software Inc. in November, with its flagship CM product.

IBM will deliver a new product based on Tarian technology in the first half of this year, possibly going to beta in March, executives said.

“The Tarian acquisition was a good one for [IBM] because that product is essentially an engine…designed to be integrated in with IBM’s product. There aren’t any big complex front ends that need to be dealt with,” said Stephen O’Grady, an analyst at RedMonk, a consultancy based in Hollis, N.H.

The products reflect a wider push by IBM that includes boosting its research budget for future CM products and reallocating approximately 2,000 sales people from its data management group to its CM group.

Although IBM’s CM strategy appears sound from a server perspective, some analysts believe that the company is missing important pieces on the front end, particularly a Web content publishing tool.

“Companies such as Open Market and Eprise have some good front-end, customer-facing tools that do a good job of handling Web content publishing. So far IBM has gone the partner route on those things, although they have made some strides with their portal product there,” O’Grady said.

Some analysts estimate that the main focus for IBM’s CM strategy in 2003 will be to simplify its replication and search capabilities and to achieve tighter integration with DB2.

“Working on these things will help [IBM] better solidify the back end and improve the overall quality of the offering,” O’Grady said.

Whereas IBM is driving toward an integrated CM stack, other CM vendors are working to diversify content offerings to meet the growing need for integrated functionality.

Tapping into its recent acquisition of portal software provider Epicentric, Vignette this month rolled out Portal Suites, designed to provide an integrated platform for creating, managing, and deploying Web applications, according to officials at Austin, Tex.-based Vignette.

The management of content has become inextricably linked to its presentation in Web applications, according to Michael Crosno, Vignette executive vice-president of worldwide operations and former Epicentric CEO.

“To a user there often is no difference between a content management and portal [application],” Crosno said.

The CM and portal combination allows enterprises to manage application services, business content, collaboration, and processes in such a way that the enterprise is able to deliver the results in the form of a composite-based application, Crosno said.

Weaving collaboration more tightly into the CM fold, Documentum this week plans to roll out eRoom Enterprise , which unites virtual workspace collaboration technology with enterprise CM.

The offering, a result of Documentum’s acquisition of eRoom last year, allows collaborative content to be captured, stored, and integrated with other enterprise content and processes, Documentum said.

Similarly, CM player Interwoven earlier this month teamed with collaboration vendor iManage to combine collaboration and portal capabilities with Web CM. The Interwoven Collaborative Document Management Solution targets the overall collaborative document lifecycle, from sharing to approval to publishing, according to officials at Pleasanton, Calif.-based Documentum.

Meanwhile, FileNet recently unveiled its P8 architecture, which integrates CM, business process management, and application connectivity capabilities into a single framework. The FileNet P8 architecture consists of four prepackaged suites that use a single repository, interface, and API set for developers, according to officials at the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company.