Microsoft releases Content Management Server 2001

Microsoft Corp. this month announced the release of its Content Management Server 2001, aimed at helping companies create, deploy and maintain information for their Web sites.

Microsoft acquired the software, formerly known as Resolution, when it completed its purchase of Vancouver-based NCompass Labs Inc. in May for US$36 million, a company spokesperson said. The fourth version of the Resolution product was released in March.

Resolution 4.0 ran on Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems, but Microsoft elected to optimize the software to run on its latest Windows 2000 operating system, improving performance by 40 per cent to 60 per cent, according to product manager Chris Ramsey.

Chris Carkner, a systems analyst at Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, said his company found that pages load in roughly half the time with Content Management Server, something he called “pretty remarkable.”

Carkner said that although Royal Canadian Mint still uses Windows NT 4 throughout much of the company, it runs its Web systems, including the Content Management Server, on Windows 2000. But the move to Content Management Server 2001 didn’t drive the decision to move to Windows 2000.

When Royal Canadian Mint re-architected its site, it chose Microsoft’s Commerce Server 2000 and SQL Server 2000, both of which run on Windows 2000.

“Our plan is to go Windows 2000 across the board, and this is leading us there,” said Neil Hallam, director of IT at Royal Canadian Mint, a profit-making company wholly owned by the Canadian government.

Other changes Microsoft made involve the pricing and packaging of components. Microsoft has now bundled in a server-clustering component a deployment manager to help users deploy site content from one Resolution server to another and a content connector module to help customers integrate Resolution and Microsoft’s Commerce Server 2000.

Resolution had been priced at US$59,000 per server, with separate charges for each add-on module. The server-clustering component sold for US$25,000, the content connector was US$10,000 and the site deployment manager was US$10,000, Ramsey said.

Content Management Server will now be priced on a per-CPU model to fall in line with other Microsoft .Net enterprise servers. The estimated retail price is US$39,091 per CPU, Ramsey said.

“At the end of the day, the average price is about the same,” Ramsey said, noting that the typical customer installation was four CPUs and will cost US$125,000 to US$200,000.

Connie Moore, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group Inc., said Microsoft’s acquisition of NCompass was an “extremely smart” move on Microsoft’s part.

“Now that it has the Microsoft branding behind it, it’s going to shoot right up to the top of the short list” of content management products for midrange environments, competing with vendors such as IntraNet Solutions Inc., Percussion Software Inc. and Eprise Corp., Moore said.

“Companies looking for high-end Web content management systems that support a range of platforms and are highly scalable are probably going to look elsewhere,” Moore said, pointing to Interwoven Inc., Vignette Corp. and Documentum Inc. as the chief vendors in the high-end space.