Open Text glues acquired offerings in a single suite

Open Text Corp. released its ECM Suite 2010 on Tuesday along with the message to customers that technologies got from acquisitions in the last two years are now seamlessly integrated onto a single framework.

The Waterloo-based enterprise content management vendor bought Captaris, Nstein TechnologiesVignette Corp. and Vizible Corp. in the past two years, acquiring additional products in the process.

“The integration is really the key here because once you’re on this release you have the ability to move from everything from portal to back-office on the same Web services layer and that’s a significant step forward,” said Eugene Roman, Open Text’s chief information officer.

Open Text is describing this release as the result of the largest innovation effort in the company’s history. In fact, more than 400 engineers and two years of development work went into the platform, the first year of which was spent embedding acquired technologies into the core, said Roman.

The suite spans 90 products and modules, from compliance, business process management and portals to integrated mobile support and enterprise information archiving.

Integration of various technologies is made possible through a core services layer — a framework of process services, user interface services, and the Enterprise Library (formerly Livelink) — that Roman likens to a network where all 90 modules are exposed and accessible should a customer want to add a particular functionality.

“We’ve actually created a network-centric type approach here,” said Roman.

He said building that services architecture, and essentially rebuilding the back-end, is what allowed Open Text to integrate technologies from acquired companies. “There were things we were able to clean up in the process,” said Roman.

Also in that process, Open Text was able to increase the performance of the products to respond to customer demands for better scalability as content sets grew, said Roman.

“An integrated approach like this is really a huge step forward in the world of informatics, not just for Open Text, but it changes the playing field for ECM, we believe,” said Roman.

Despite Open Text having a good understanding of the industries in which it toils and providing the “soup to nuts” ECM solutions that users need, multiple acquisitions can mean customers are presented with more than one way to address a business need, said George Goodall, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.

“What Open Text is struggling to do is integrate acquisitions,” said Goodall. “It’s nice that the data tier is consistent, but at the end of the day, how do we address this problem?”

Taking a services-based architecture approach is not all that different from what vendors Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have done to reconcile applications they’ve acquired, said Goodall. But Open Text still faces some tough decisions regarding non-core offerings like legal products from buying Hummingbird Ltd. in 2006.

Nonetheless, Goodall thinks ECM Suite 2010 aligns well with Open Text’s goal of providing industry-specific tools and allowing customers a better cost of ownership regardless of the choice of application. “I think the strategy is completely consistent with that,” said Goodall.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau 

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