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.

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-
http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Web-Services-Web-20-and-SOA/Report-IBM-Number-One-in-Portal-Software-333186/

Another buyout. Who’s next?

Another big acquisition from shopaholic giant. Finally Oracle bought Sun Microsystems.

Anyways..I’ll leave other analysts to comment on hardware/storage/cloud computing and other areas. I am more interested to speculate the future of software products from Sun, example Sun Portal, Access Manager, Directory Server, and other open source projects. Here is my take in that –

Oracle already have five portals under its belt, out of with they have clearly indicated of taking Webcenter, Aqualogic and Weblogic forward.

With this buy out, Oracle might dispose Sun Portal, as this product from Sun is not doing great from last few years, even after Sun made heavy investments and revamped its portal suite during ’06-07. Sun failed to generate more ROI and is now supporting only its top 100 customers.

I also fear that it might be a dead end for all open source initiatives from Sun, as Oracle has never shown any interest in the Open Source arena. This might badly affect project Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj), NetBeans IDE, PostgresSQL etc.

I think, Liferay is becoming more vulnerable for acquisition by Oracle as Sun had an interest initially and still have few ongoing projects with Liferay.

On the greener side, Oracle will get benefited with Sun’s IDM suite as Access Manager & Directory Server are widely used and now Oracle will have a reply to IBM’s Tivoli suite.

Let’s wait and watch what next will come under Oracle’s Business Process Management tag.

Sun-Liferay and Project WebSynergy

After Sun-Liferay partnership early this year, Sun Microsystems has releases a stable version of a new Portal (from common code base) codename Project WebSynergy. A stable build 2 of WebSynergy is also available for download. Here are some of the new features in this release –

1. Portlet container 2.0: Complaint to JSR286 specs. Built on top of Open Portal Portlet container. Supports expiration and validation of cache, eventing and more advanced IPC.
2. JCR Compliance: Liferay Portal uses Mirage API that enables to use JCR compliant content repository, the same is incorporated in the WebSynergy release.
3. WSRP 2.0 Consumer Support : A WSRP consumer support and a new administration application is added that enables managing multiple WSRP consumers
4. Roller Blog Portlet: The Roller Blog portlet provides integration with Roller Weblogger version 4.0. Using this portlet, portal users can create and manage blogs on a Roller 4.0 server.
5. Presence: Presence Infrastructure also known as RUON has been integrated into Liferay Portal. Not really sophisticated as of now but there are plans to include more presence portlets to provide more presence-aware portal to the end user.

Its not far when a commercial release will be in the market. Surely this will be a big move from Sun’s perspective after a long time as there will be no more Sun JES Releases. This does not mean that Sun will stop shipping Access Manager and Directory Server duo. Both Access Manager and Directory Server are well known in the market and Sun will sell these products separately while relying on the Liferay community to concentrate on the portal side.

I think there is a possibility to see a connector/integration of Liferay Portal with Sun IDM stack in the near future.

Sun’s Collaborative Portal Server 7

Another big hit by Sun Microsystems Inc today by announcing major enhancements to the Java Enterprise System with a new version of the Sun Java System Portal Server(version 7) that will provide developers and customers with collaborative features and identity-based content through web-based applications.

As Collaborative Portals are speedily replacing the traditional portal features and architecture, Sun was a bit late but came with enhanced and the most needed capabilities of its Portal Server which will allow the easy creation of interactive communities of users and services, building community portals populated with collaborative content including RSS feeds, blogs and wikis.

The story of Collaborative technology is not new anymore ,Interwoven’s WorkSite (Document Collaboration), IBM lotus Quickplace, EMC Documentum e-room were the first one to include the Collaborative technology in their products.

Liferay Portal server 3.6 too have and support for the collaborative content including RSS feeds, blogs and wikis, but follows the Gropus and Role Concept that works more or less the same as Community Concept

Identity-based portals and community portals, when combined with Sun’s leading support of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript) portal containers, allow users to experience the interactive power of the Web along with the personalization and rich application interfaces traditionally associated with the desktop.

Some of the enhancements made to the Sun Java System Portal Server 7 include:
**Delegated Administration Features -> enables end users with the ability to manage page layouts, reset passwords, and allow non-technical users the ability to manage common portal functions, thus freeing up IT resources .
** Tools to Create New Communities and Community Services — including user communities, wikis, file sharing, blog integration, and an open interface to build and expand on these services.
** Sun is also incorporating the open Java DB, a Sun supported distribution of the Apache Derby database, in the Sun Java System Portal Server 7 for use in data storage.

More information can be found at: http://www.sun.com/software/javaenterprisesystem

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