My CMS Origin

…so a new meme was started by pie, then was followed by all other cmsgurus and then it became popular on Twitter. Everybody went down their memory lane and shared how they started their career in Content Management. Therefore, here is what made me commit to the content management space.

My Introduction to CMS

I started as a Business Associate with a leading service provider in India. I was trained in Fatwire CMS version 5.0. Content Management was kind of a new science for me and understanding content management from a French teacher with a thick French accent was nothing less than rocket science. Those 5 days of training were neither good enough to go ahead and develop an intranet for a major Oil company, so we researched the tool and implemented the solution in ten months.

btw- I was also asked to create sequentially and a class diagram for this CMS implementation and I was like What??

My Argument about the future of Content Management

I remember my argument with my Project Manager where I was defending that there is no future of content management and EJB is the one who will rock the future. Other arguments were based on the huge costs involved in procuring a CM solution and I was sure it was not an option for any SME’s based out in India.

In the Mainstream

A year later, I joined  Apoorv at Wipro Technologies, and from there on we worked closely in the areas of web portals, open-source, and Content Management. I researched a lot on CM systems like OpenCms, Alfresco, Teamsite but the focus area was always Fatwire.

As I was involved in both portals and content management technologies, many times, I wondered which one is better, who holds the future, and then my thought process took another turn, and that was where I started this blog. A post like this was trying to demarcate between the twos.

With time comes maturity and I was now sure that content management is here to stay. To prove my point, my job helped me to travel across the globe for few large CMS implementations. Apart from pre-sales, architecture, and implementations, I always have my eyes open for the happenings in JCRs, CMIS, Migration strategies, and every small big topic in this system.

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi

All in one: ECM vendors tale

Just read Russ’s blog. It’s a nice post that made me think if there is a single ECM vendor who really managed to make their customer happy with full-fledged ECM requirements.

I think its not only mergers and acquisitions that led the large or mid size, organization to have various sub-ECM products from different vendors but it’s the piling of softwares that grows during the period. The reasons may be a not-so future oriented solution from service providers or a highly effective sale person or a customer with no or very less IT experience.
There are numerous cases where customers have enough ECM softwares and do not know what to do. E.g. I have come across with customer with Sharepoint already in place and looking for Livelink as DMS or customers with Livelink as DMS and Fatwire as WCM in place and then looking for integration.

The problem is on the other side as well. A few genuine ECM vendors really cater to “custom” ers requirements. Therefore, before going for any ECM establishment, customers should check the integration points with their existing WCM/ DMS/RM/BI etc infrastructure and at the same time ask the Service providers to show some kind of proof of concepts (POC) to validate the integrations

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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 🙂

Portals: Intruding the ECM space?

If Portals are the underlying technology for the presentation, aggregation, integration and SOA implementation (as every vendor talks about it ), then the Content Management System (CMS) is what feeds the portals.

Portals, Ideally meant to be more towards  integration and presentation side, are now coming up with their own version of built-in CMS.

Besides Partnering with vendors from Web Content Management (WCM) / Enterprise Content Management (ECM) arena, Portal vendors are also working successfully towards their own built-in CMS. These built-in CMS provide you the best a CMS product can offer. Journal Content Management, Document Management, Integration with MS office or Open Office, Drag and Drop of your desktop files, Workflow management, Integrated Publishing and Search.

WebSphere Portal 6.0 Integrates externally with CMS products like Interwoven Teamsite ,Documentum etc , also includes IBM Workplace Web Content Management Version 6.0 which itself carries a full fledged WCM capabilities. BEA provides the integration with Stellent, documentum and Vignette CMS products but has its own Content Management system and virtual content repository. Open source player Liferay portal 4.2 has come up with portlets for Alfresco (another open source Leader in ECM),but again it has its own “Liferay Journal” CMS which covers most of the WCM functionalities.

Sun and Bea have partnered with FatWire to provide Portal Server customers with unlimited-use licenses of FatWire Spark Portal Content Management (pCM) software at no cost.

There is a definite and clear separation of a built-in CMS and a third party CMS integration on to the portals. The choice is up to you, it all depends on what satisfies your business requirements. As for small and mid-size customers, these built-in CMS are doing the job, that too with a lot of ease and bringing in cost benefits.

CMS market has always been more mature, streamlined and more professional. On the other hand, the Portal market are not making the impact that was expected of them and was so fiercly predicted by the experts, a few years ago. The reasons could be cost, need, ease of implementation or lack of expertise with the service providers. In such a scenario are Portal vendors adding on CMS to their product feature list to stay alive?

If yes, what next? Would they continue to break ground and venture into ECM territory as they have now ventured into WCM territory?

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