Web 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 nice post with some great takeaways.

Yes, there are not enough gadgets for content contributors and the 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 the luxury of using various portlets that are tightly integrated with CS. Administrators could easily configure portlets based on the 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 the FatWire page layout process.

Personalization is a capability that every portal offers, based on requirements, personalization at multi-levels can be configured using the portal itself. Additional Investment on gadget server will not be many benefits unless you have a requirement to let template developers utilize the capabilities to add gadgets on web pages during the page layout processor for the end-users to personalize their dashboards with these light-weighted apps. The usage of gadgets becomes positive within the WEM framework where  Site Admin wants to create a page with a 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 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 the 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 contributing 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 the information. All an all a right Content Strategy that identifies the demarcations and overlap of document, social and content collaboration.

Most of the organizations believe in the ‘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 a partner on the extranet, or the site visitors on the 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 the emphasis is being given to ‘pull’ of information from the end-user. There is a need for 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 products are on the roll and the adoption will be fairly wide shortly.

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

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.

Interwoven to be Acquired by Autonomy

It was a mixed feeling for me when I read about Autonomy acquiring Interwoven. Yes, it is a surprise move as quoted by cmswatch, but some of the industry observers see it as a pending acquisition. Both Interwoven and Autonomy are niche and big market players in their area. Where Autonomy has a huge customer base for its Infrastructure and Intelligent Search solution, Interwoven on the other hand is a well-known ECM provider.

I think that it is more than good for Interwoven in many ways. Interwoven will have a strategic advantage of getting more customer base. A direct access to more than 20,000 Autonomy clients.
The Intelligent search from Autonomy can be embedded within Interwoven’s CMS, DMS, and Collaboration tools as Interwoven uses Vivisimo as a search engine for most of its product line, but now with Autonomy coming in, the search will eventually get impacted because Autonomy will push for Verity(Interwoven dropped Verity).

Though Autonomy has its own solutions for BPM, Search, and Record Management, it will be a challenge to manage the same offerings from Interwoven as well under the same hood.

With recession on the go, is this acquisition a fall in number of ECM player or a rise of one more CMS vendor to compete with Vignette or Fatwire WCM.

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.

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