Lotus and IBM muscle into content management

Putting its workflow and document management heritage to use, IBM Corp.’s Lotus Development Corp. subsidiary on Monday announced its foray into the content management (CM) arena with a packaged bundle of products and services.

The Lotus Web Content Management Solution ties together existing Lotus and IBM systems with the Aptrix Web CM engine from Australian vendor Presence Online Pty Ltd. and services from Andersen. Specific Lotus technologies in the bundle include Domino, Domino.doc, Lotus Workflow, Sametime instant messaging, and QuickPlace collaboration software.

In addition, the offering is designed to complement and leverage several of IBM’s existing platforms and services, including the DB2-based IBM Content Manager, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Personalization, WebSphere Commerce Suite, and the Enterprise Information Portal.

“We can leverage the collaboration capabilities of Domino and the transactional strength of WebSphere in the same solution,” said Tom Libretto, senior manger of content management at Lotus, in Cambridge, Mass. “This solution can live on top of WebSphere and Domino simultaneously and leverage best of both worlds.”

The technology-level integration in the package consists of hooks built into the Aptrix CM engine that push content in and out of the Lotus Domino.Doc document management system and the WebSphere platform. In addition, there is a plug-in module for Lotus’s graphical workflow engine, as well as several integration points between Aptrix and IBM Content Manager and the Enterprise Information Portal. The system runs natively on Domino and WebSphere.

The impetus for developing the CM package was customer need for controlling the publishing content from Domino and WebSphere platforms out to Internet, intranet or extranet environments, Libretto said.

“Our customers want ways to solve problems of publishing rich content to Web audiences. In the past they had to build home grown applications on Domino platforms. We though it was time to put together an offering for those folks,” he said.

The Lotus-IBM combo has delivered strong workflow, collaboration, e-commerce transaction support, and scalability, but has been lacking a Web content engine to publish content to the Internet, according to Libretto.

“We have a variety of technologies that do elements of Web content management,” said Libretto. “The missing link was the traditional WCM engine that facilitates the creation of a dynamic web site, all of the presentation components, and integration with back end data systems to publish to the Web.”

The IBM-Lotus push into CM makes sense, as CM becomes tightly bound to infrastructure and applications, according to Rob Perry, senior analyst at the Yankee Group, in Boston.

“I think they are trying to extend the infrastructure they offer. CM is an important part of the infrastructure platform for applications. Lotus and IBM have WebSphere and a portal. Adding CM on top of this, to start managing the content side makes sense,” Perry said. “Companies are looking to add CM as part of both those.”

Although the CM space is crowded, the considerable size and strength of IBM and Lotus can help to carve out success, Perry said.

“I there is still opportunity left in the market. The market has established leaders in Interwoven, Vignette and Documentum who are very strong in the space. However, IBM and Lotus are a big company and can leverage the success of WebSphere and the channel. It is a little late in the game to be getting into content management but doesn’t mean they can’t be successful based on their size and scale, and leveraging their existing products.”