Wednesday, 29 April 2009

OpenText Content Day in Toronto

This is a brief overview of OpenText's 'Content Day' in Toronto yesterday. It was a useful day at the Radisson hotel (booo to them for not providing free wireless !), with good sessions by OpenText staff and some good customer case studies.

So, here are the highlights:

1. Strategic direction / roadmap

They are continuing to move to absorb and integrate all their acquisitions, and are doing this under the auspices of a 'soup to nuts' ECM suite.

By 2010 both LiveLink and HummingBird eDocs will cease to exist as separate products stacks and will be merged into OpenText Content Server 2010, which will be the basis of this ECM suite.

Interestingly their messaging is based on the premise that customer integration of best of breed products is complex, expensive and never lives up to the expectations (which I have to agree with!), while a single monolithic repository and ECM system (think EMC and IBM?) can never be good at everything.

So they have focused on web services and integrating RedDot WCM, Artesia DAM etc via a loosely couple web services architecture. Indeed more than one of their customer case studies noted how easy it had been to integrate LiveLink into other applications / systems.

They provide two 'user experience' alternatives to bring all of this together. 'Bloom' is the code word for their Enterprise 2.0 offering which should be released in the summer - this appears to be aimed at taking on EMC CenterStage and Oracle BeeHive (and maybe SharePoint...?). Bloom is being built on elements of RedDot WCM, Artesia DAM, FirstClass conferencing etc, and all of these historical 'divisions' are being brought together in a new 'front office' unit.

Go to this page on OpenText's site and scroll down and you will find whitepapers on 'Bloom' and Enterprise 2.0:

What was intereseting though was that they also have a 'fat client' called Enterprise Connect which runs on Windows which can be used to connect to LiveLink, eDocs or SharePoint repositories, thus providing a common interface to these systems. It's interesting to me because its a genuine, 'old fashioned' fat client, not a Adobe AIR or whatever AJAX / JSON type web app.

2. Integrations

Of course OpenText always make a great deal of their relationship with SAP, well they have been partners for 18 years now...... So it obviously works well for them both :-) However this is a well known story and I am not going to concentrate on what they add to SAP.

SharePoint however is flavour of the month (or year, or decade....). OpenText provide a number of SharePoint integrations, and their partnership with Microsoft seems (along with EMC's partnership with MS) seems to be tacit acceptance by MS that SharePoint really is not a full ECM suite, however I digress.

OpenText's base 'Storage Services' integration attacks one of the architectural issues with MOSS, it takes content items out of the SLQ Server RDBMS where they are stored in tables as Binary Large Objects (BLOBS) and puts them into a file system, which is more scalable (and probably considerably cheaper in the long run).

Additional integrations / add ons are more at the user application layer:
  • Case Management Framework
  • Regulated Documents
  • Legal Information Management
So, thats the highlights really. There was some really good customer case studies, and all in all it was an informative and interesting day. I have to say that the re-organisation of divisions and the focusing of the product lines and the marketing on the 'ECM suite' is a necessary move in the face of the competition from EMC, IBM and Oracle, and of course now that Canada is my adopted homeland, I should develop an 'emotional' interest in a great Canadian company ;-)

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