FatWire Content Collaboration: Extending WCM Realms?

FatWire recently announced the release of two new products -Gadget Server and Community server. These social computing products are tied directly to FatWire’s Content Server (CS), a Web Experience Management (WEM) platform.

Real Story Group Analyst Apoorv wrote a really nice post with some great takeaways.

Yes, there are not enough gadgets for content contributors and community server does not offer anything more than just blog functionality, but I think the idea behind is to “populate” or “pull” content from the end users. A young platform laid out for a two-way content collaboration i.e. exchange of content from both corporate content contributors and site visitors.

Having said that, this is my take on the recent release –

1. WCM Implementation in Conjunction with Portal:

Customers with existing Implementation of FatWire Spark-pCM on Sun/Weblogic portals have a luxury of using various portlets which are tightly integrated with CS. Administrators could easily configure portlets based on editor’s needs. So, in this scenario just a few WCM specific gadgets will not make much of a difference for editors, but developers can easily place these gadgets on any web page as a part of FatWire page layout process.

Personalization is a capability that every portal offers, based on requirements, personalization at multi levels can be configured using portal itself. Additional Investment on gadget server will not be much beneficial unless you have a requirement to let template developers utilize the capabilities to add gadgets on web pages during page layout process or for the end users to personalize their dashboards with these light-weighted apps. The usage of gadgets become  positive within the WEM framework where  Site Admin wants to create a page with certain layout and include these gadgets within the slots. It’s a quick and easy way of developing new content-centric pages. Another advantage is gadgets created within FatWire’s Gadget Server can be exported for use on third party websites such as igoogle.

2. Pure WCM implementation for external WebSites:

It really depends on what type of website one has. For a website selling products online, it will be a nice idea to implement functionalities offered by Community server as it will get you customer’s feedback and reviews related to product sold. This can potentially be a platform for you to support customers online, share best practices or share product manuals. As good it may seem from the user end, it is equally difficult from the website management perspective. Most of the user generated content will be stored in the Production environment while Staging will just be used by internal content editors. Different information will be stored in various silos and IT will have to work around syncing of content between environments.

3.  Pure WCM implementation for internal Sites/Microsites:

I see a huge potential in this area. We have a large number of ‘social networking’ platforms and tools in the market and over internet. What lags in the WCM space are the tools and functionalities by which internal users within an enterprise can be networked together and form a ‘content collaboration’ space.

With community and gadget server integrated within the WEM framework, the realm of WCM is extended, so does the flexibility of retrieving and contribution of information from the internal users. If wisely implemented and keeping security and authorization into consideration, information and knowledge can be reused, relevant content can be collaborated from across the boundaries and from within a business unit of your enterprise. Now, it’s on the individual organization’s WCM strategy how they drive productivity around information. All an all a right Content Strategy that clearly identifies the demarcations and overlap of document, social and content collaboration.

Most of the organizations believe in ‘push’ of the content. The push of content happens at various levels, it can be targeted to either one business unit of the organization, or to a partner on extranet, or to the site visitors on internet.

There are valid use cases and business requirements for the same, but that’s not the point where the story ends. Enterprises today are not just targeting content (newsletters, campaigns, product info, recommendations etc) to the end user but emphasis is being given to ‘pull’ of information from the end user. There is a need of a business channel that is interactive. This 2-way methodology of content contribution and collaboration helps organizations to–

1-  Create a Knowledge repository from the users of a particular business unit working towards a similar goal.

2-  Get actual feedback from the site visitors

3-  Interactive Support

and most importantly -

4-  Reach out for useful insights

Rich back-end content management systems with complex features are around for a while. A non technical business user finds it difficult to learn, contribute and manage the content.

WCM products lag User Experience, which is quite seriously taken up by collaboration products. Amalgamations of these two categories of product are on the roll and the adoption will be fairly wide in the near future.

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Content Integration Vs Content Migration

Few days back Fatwire Software announced the launch of the Fatwire Rescue Program for Vignette and Interwoven WCM customers.
The program will enable customers of Interwoven and Vignette to upgrade to FatWire’s WCM solutions at no license cost. However, this holds good only if they engage Fatwire’s supported or so-called ‘proven’ migration tools and services.
Vamosa and Kapow. I hope this move will hold well for Fatwire in WCM market space.

If you remember Fatwire already has a Content Integration Platform(CIP), which is a “web-services-based” content sharing tool. In this Fatwire CMS user can access content stored across the enterprise without leaving the Fatwire CMS interface (CS-Direct). CIP offers connectors to access content from Documentum, SharePoint, and Windows and Unix file systems.

So why this rescue package from Fatwire when they already have a solution in place? Here are my insights on the demarcation between the two offerings and the differences in the approach -

1. In Content Integration Platform, the source WCM/ECM sever must be up and running in order to serve the content. The only difference will be accessing the content using Fatwire console (dash/advance/insite interfaces).
[Access + Connector = Integration]

2. Fatwire rescue program is based on the expertise and past experiences of Content Migration service providers (Vamosa and Kapow). Server Instances of Teamsite or Vignette will not be required after full content migration.
[Entire data movement (Assets/Content/Templates/Workflows/Roles/Security/Users/Publishing Events) = Content Migration ]

Since there is no Fatwire connector for Vignette and Teamsite as of now, I believe this is another way of attracting the customers to move completely into Fatwire at lower cost (No license cost + No Running Instances of Teamsite or Vignette required).

Content Migration is a very risky, customers are advised that there is no fully automatic or a neat way of doing it. Manual intervention and tweaking of trusted scripts, XMLs and non-java based templates is very much required in order to do the migration. Evaluate and request for case studies or a proof of concept from the product vendor before you make a decision.

I am glad that in the midst of acquisitions in the WCM space, Fatwire is the one of the niche player who is moving a step forward by collaborating with content migration service providers like Vamosa and Kapow. I hope this move will hold well for Fatwire in WCM market space.

Let’s get SharePoint Integrated

I’m currently seeing a new trend these days, it’s about portals and content management systems going above and beyond their technologies, language and platform to get integration with SharePoint. I have put my views on how Content Management Systems (Fatwire and Immediacy WCMs 6.1) are tending towards integrating with SharePoint. Now, it’s the open source portal which will come up with a similar kind of integration with SharePoint.

Integration with Sharepoint from a non-open source Java based portal is not new. IBM Websphere uses WSRP for communication with Sharepoint, while Sun Portal Server 7.2 integrates with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 which provides a set of portlets to get deployed over Sun portal.

Latest in this area is about open source portal Liferay 5.2 which is about to get release soon is coming up with a feature to integrate with SharePoint. The Implementation of the SharePoint protocol will allow saving documents to Liferay as if it were a SharePoint server.
Except WCM, most of the customers feel that SharePoint has more “admin” friendly document collaboration features, document categorization, roles based document access and defining document types on the fly. Altogether it provides better DMS capabilities.

As neither Fatwire nor Liferay has their own full fledge document management system. Enterprises with existing SharePoint investments and who are looking for a portal or WCM solutions can look for these connectors/portlets.

Anyways, the thought around these integration approaches is to have “seamless access” to SharePoint’s repositories without leaving the actual Interface of either portal or web CMS.
As far as cost is concerned, I am not sure if the “SharePoint integration” will be a part of Liferay Community Release or if there is any additional commercial involved in its Enterprise Edition. On the other hand Fatwire-SharePoint Integrator costs tens of thousands $$$ for each Sharepoint deployment.

I will constantly look in this area of integration and will provide more information as soon as community version of Liferay is released.

Content Integration Platform and Content Interoperability

Few days back Fatwire Introduced Microsoft SharePoint Connector as part of its Content integration platform. This new connector enables Fatwire CMS users to seamlessly access SharePoint content to use on the web. The Content Integration platform provides web-services-based, peer-to-peer content sharing capabilities that gives CMS users access to content stored across the enterprise without ever leaving the Content Server interface, and publish it to their public sites, intranets and extranets.

Enterprise content which are spread and stored in various content management systems and across platforms, the integration and seamless access of the content is still a challenge. Efforts are being made to overcome to manage content across multi-vendor, multi-repository content management environments. Recently talked CMIS is another such effort which defines a set of protocols, exposed via REST and Web Services definitions, for platform-independent interchange of content.

“…….Using CMIS-defined HTTP calls, you will be able to do standard CRUD operations (create, read, update, delete) against any compliant repository, regardless of the underlying repository architecture “

Though there are couple of valid questions which still need to be answered around the concurrent operations across content repositories, but it seems like that various CMS vendors or specification authorities are going to use “common web services” as their technology to move forward.We will definitely look forward for the success of content integration platforms or CMIS as it’s hard to find projects that were successful where vendors took JCR170 as their selling point, nevermind you still find sales guys talking about JSR 283 in their product presentations :-)

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