Hummingbird upgrades greeted with apprehension

Toronto-based Hummingbird Ltd.’s recent rash of software upgrades has left one analyst confused over what progress the company is making.

Hummingbird, an enterprise software supplier, announced enhancements to its portal, document management, business intelligence (BI), Web publishing, workflow and collaboration solutions at its Summit 2002 user conference being held in Orlando this week.

Of the five updates, the company is heralding two in particular. “Our browser-based technology in document management has migrated from something that was almost totally ASP-based to now at least half Java-based in this release,” said John Bellegarde, the senior director product strategy for Hummingbird in Boston.

Bellegarde stressed that while there were no new actual product announcements made, the company has a responsibility to its user base to expand on pre-existing product offerings to better service those needs.

What remains the same, he said, is the company’s positioning to mange its customer’s assets, whether document or database-based.

However, at least one industry analyst said that while the integration remains a strength for Hummingbird, there really isn’t much else within the upgrades to get excited about.

“The positioning they take is seamless integration. These are engineered for seamless integration as an enterprise solution, but the bigger question is why do I have to buy it all if I have someone else’s portal or document management,” said Keith Gile, senior industry analyst for Giga Information Group in Norwalk, Conn.

He characterized the entire suite as a fundamentally sound set of tools, especially given the fact that they can all be integrated. But on the whole, Gile said none represent a market leader in any area.

And when asked about version 8.0 of the company’s business intelligence software, specifically about the company’s position that the software is now more integrated and in general easier to use, Gile was skeptical. “Those are interesting statements for them to make and they’re very difficult to quantify. I just kept seeing the word enhancement, (and) I often wonder if the older version stunk.”

He compared Hummingbird to other vendors in the BI space, such as German software company SAP AG, which have invested heavily in research and development to create new components in their offerings. While these vendors are making strides in their software, he called Hummingbird’s upgrade “status quo.”

However, Gile noted that the company has been successful in offering all of the pieces when it comes to enterprise business intelligence, which he said is a good selling point for customers who have already invested in one or more of its technologies already.

Hummingbird in North York, Ont., can be reached at

Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass., can be reached at

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