How IBM is #1 in web portal software?

IT analyst firm Gartner, Inc., has ranked IBM as the worldwide market share leader in the Portal Products and User Interaction Tools enterprise software segment. Here is my take –

There is no question on the capabilities and functionalities of IBM WebSphere Portal V 6.1, which is well designed to collaborate the information from users, communities, corporate enterprises, and the Web. I will not discuss the cool and robust features of IBM but will list down the external factors that might have influenced the ranking-

1. Technology: Still the market share of .net is much less than java. IBM being a java based portal and is adopted by organizations who either already have java based software infrastructure or their decisive people are pro-java. I agree with Janus

“Microsoft is known to give away SharePoint like candy, so SharePoint might indeed have less revenue. A substantial portion of SharePoint licenses remain unused.”

Yes, the Adoption of SharePoint (MOSS) is much higher than any portal in the market (07-08), and who does the marketing better than MS, but the point has still not reached where SharePoint can be ranked as #1.

2. Choice: Do customers have choice?..ummm –lets find out-
a) Opensource/Liferay: Even though Liferay is named as the Visionary portal product in Gartner’s magic quadrant, the financial industry has no confidence in this open source portal. On the other hand, IBM software is being used by the top 10 global banks.

b) Sun JES Portal: before the acquisition: The setting sun finally decided to stop the further release if its enterprise portal product (last version 7.2) and decided to contribute towards Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj).

c) Oracle/Weblogic/Webcenter: Oracle invested huge $$$ in their Webcenter portal project but failed to market their so-called strategic portal product. Market still questions Oracle’s portal leadership. With five portal products under its belt, seems like that sale and marketing team is confused on which portal to highlight. I believe that aqualogic and weblogic are doing pretty well but not widely adopted as IBM WebSphere.

3) Leadership/Support/Cost: IBM tops the chart in terms of cost for its product, services and support. Even then, organizations opt for security, availability, collaboration and other web2.0 stuffs over the cost. It might be because IBM promises better ROI. I believe that 2011 will be a crucial year for IBM portal after the economic recession ends as most of the organizations have kept their decisions on hold for buying an expensive portal products.

There can be other reasons as well such as innovations, industry types, underlying architecture etc that might have valued customers more in buying this product.

More information about the report, features, and a case study is here-

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?

Commercializing Open Source

The cloud thickens on the strategy of the open source vendors….“The enterprise fraternity” are keen on acquiring smaller rival companies with open sourced software and after acquisition, only unveil a part of the software that remained open sourced before, Then doesn’t the whole idea of open source get flouted? Another heating debate could be on the possible reasons for acquiring such firms that are open sourced. Typically, an open sourced company is learnt to be earning from the product’s maintenance, installation and support unlike, their product counterparts that derive from the licensed product copies as well. So, there seems to be a basic clash on the ideals of the two entities. Is this strategy a result of the fear in the biggies that the smaller ones could eventually overtake them as they gather more supporters for open sourced version.

A historical data on some such developments on this front that testify this:-

Oracle acquired Innobase an open source software company and a developer of transactional database technology, the software was distributed under the GNU GPL open-source license and was bundled with MySQL. Currently, it is reportedly in talks to acquire three open-source companies to expand its customer base .In return, it announced a free, low-end version of its database software thus, letting the world know about their commitment to opensource. Oracle also plans to buy Jboss Inc ,another opensource company and a leader in the application server market .

IBM last year bought Gluecode Software,which offers an application server based on apache Geronimo project. The give and take business is not new as IBM bundles with WebSphere, and it contributed an embedded database called Derby to Apache.
Bea Systems open sourced a version of its relational database mapping tool “Kodo” under an Apache license, while continues to offer BEA Kodo under a closed source license.
Sun Microsystems looked at open source community to revive itself , open sourced Solaris and JES.

At some point this may be a good deal for the customer as now they have a quality, open, and a low-priced(a bit more) product which is now backed ie supported by a branded company. So I think the product which was originally “true open source software” turns to have only source open.

My concern is that people who contribute to the open source software (apart from the employees of the open source company) is a vast community of developers, architects, designers who believe in sharing knowledge much to the relief of the smaller firms or developers that cannot afford licensed copies. However, with such moves industry wide, would this give enough leverage & credit to the people who contribute to this wealth of information or who use this information. Wouldn’t then the trend to contribute and share knowledge, then discouraged if this trend of acquiring smaller open sourced cos by the big giants continue?

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