Work (e.g., writing, client fulfillment) took priority over my blogging efforts in October. But the month did have some interesting news events:
SiteScape released Forum ZX: Sitescape has always been an interesting small vendor. It has been around for some time, tracing its roots back to Alta Vista Forum, and was one of the pioneers in the virtual workspace (sometimes referred to as “teamware”) space – along with eRoom (now part of EMC), Intraspect (now part of Vignette) and Groove (now part of Microsoft). From a functional perspective, SiteScape has always been one of the more complete and feature-rich products available. It has been challenged however my a lack of market presence and having the misfortune of (1) having to compete in a market historically dominated by IBM and Microsoft and (2) where market economics are not supporting a sustainable business model for teamware-specific vendors (functions are becoming more common-place with vendors like Oracle and SAP now offering virtual workspace capabilities as well as social software options such as wikis and blogs). Forum has always been strong in terms of workflow, with reasonable pricing models, and has a reasonable client presence in government-related sectors.
Forum ZX integrates real-time technology SiteScape had acquired earlier (Zon). The addition of instant messaging (XMPP-based), presence, voice and Web conferencing provides SiteScape with both asynchronous and synchronous services. This helps with the issue of “transitions” mentioned earlier in my post regarding the Microsoft and Media-Streams acquisition. While an all-in-one solution could be attractive to smaller organizations, or departments within larger organizations, the Zon technology remains infrastructure posing as an application. Large enterprises are much more likely to establish instant messaging, presence, voice and Web conferencing as shared infrastructure so I expect SiteScape will be pushed to support Microsoft’s Live Communication Server as well as real-time collaboration platforms from Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Nortel, Siemens and others. Modularization (e.g., via JSR 168 or WSRP) of SiteScape services also needs to occur for better consumption within enterprise portals. I don’t expect the company to win an infrastructure argument with most clients so Forum remains more of an application-specific solution for certain situations.
Interwise announced integration with EMC’s Documentum eRoom product: This provides EMC with a real-time communication story and helps build out the life-cycle flows between asynchonous and synchronous collaboration within eRoom. Again, this fits into the trend around “transitions” and enabling seamless activity flows. The deal is good for Interwise – EMC is a notable company and a strong partner. EMC would help itself though by doing more of these types of deals with other communication vendors. Similar to my comments on SiteScape, users are going to prefer ECM vendors to offer loosely-coupled connections and interoperability across multiple RTC providers since they are likely to have standardized on a common, shared infrastructure for communications.
An Open Source option for enterprise content management, Alfresco emerges: This looks to be a credible platform given the background of its founders (John Newton, co-founder of Documentum, and John Powell, former COO at Business Objects). Hitching its offering to JBoss is a prudent move as well. Microsoft and Oracle are already putting price pressure on this market and open source alternatives will continue that trend. This will help generalize and commoditize basic life-cycle management services for enterprise content, putting pressure on very expensive, high-end solutions over time.
So an interesting month in the collaboration space...