» Archive for the 'Open Source' Category

Change Afoot in the Content Management Space

Thursday, October 1st, 2009 by David Goldes

Content management systems are taking on increasing importance in organizations of all sizes.

The content management market is seeing dramatic change thanks to new open source and commercial open source entries that are making significant inroads with customers. In addition, just to make things a bit more complex, companies need to prepare to manage multiple forms of content including wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, social networks, podcasts, and video.

This in turn has significantly changed the process of selecting a content management solution, a process that was never exactly straightforward as it requires both an in-depth understanding of both the organization’s needs and what the market has to offer.

Consider that companies that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for content management systems might do equally well with platforms that cost one-tenth that amount.

Content management is no longer a nice-to-have tool; given the critical role of content (in all of its forms) in the enterprise, CM platforms have now been accorded the status of essential IT infrastructure.  That’s why one sees names such as EMC, IBM, and Oracle in the space.

Basex estimates that the U.S. market for content management was $4.1 billion in 2008 and will reach $10 billion by 2014.  Open source content management is gaining traction in some circles and the overall open source software market is growing rapidly.

The increase in our reliance on content and the amount of content that is being created in the enterprise makes it even more critical that companies manage content effectively in order to avoid the problem of Information Overload.

To help companies navigate the space, Basex just released The Definitive Guide to Today’s Content Management Systems and Vendors, a 150-page report series.  The report series looks at 32 key content management vendors and 43 platforms and provides in-depth analysis — including market trends, drivers, and barriers — to guide decision makers in the selection process.

The good news is that companies today can find a wide range of content management systems at varying price points.  The bad news is that selecting the RIGHT platform is more critical than ever to a company’s future and most companies don’t have the resources to thoroughly investigate their options.  Managers have to understand the total cost of ownership, support options and functionality when making that decision.

The report series is being published on a subscription basis and includes an in-depth industry survey, Content Management Systems: The New Math for Selecting Your Platform, and 16 Vendor Profiles of key content management providers and their offerings.

The vendor profiles provide a comprehensive analysis of content management offerings from Autonomy, Acquia, Alfresco, Bluenog, Day Software, EMC, EpiServer CMS, FatWire, Hippo, IBM, Microsoft, MindTouch, Nuxeo, Oracle, Open Text and Xerox.

You can purchase the report at a special introductory price from the Basex Web site.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

In the Briefing Room: Acquia Drupal

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 by Cody Burke

Open source software comes in a variety of options, from the completely free downloads that require technical expertise to make them useable to commercial open source offerings for which support and implementation services are available from the vendor.  As with many things in life, with open source software the buyer typically gets what he pays for.  If an organization chooses to implement an open source solution on its own, it can expect to either put in a significant amount of time and effort, or hire another company to do the heavy lifting.  Commercial open software vendors such as Alfresco, Hippo, or Nuxeo specialize in a single open source project, and step in to provide support and integration services.  Other commercial open source vendors, such as Bluenog, take multiple open source projects and prepackage them as a platform, in addition to providing the aforementioned support services.

A relatively new entrant in the commercial open source field is Acquia, founded in 2007.   The company released its primary offering, Acquia Drupal, in September 2008.  Essentially, Acquia has taken the well-regarded open source Drupal content management system and positioned itself as a kind of guide for organizations that are looking to or have already deployed the Drupal system.  Acquia offers subscription-based services for support and partners with Drupal developers.

Acquia Drupal provides a convenient starting point for Drupal deployment by prepackaging a group of modules that include blogs, forums, social networking, vote and rating, mashups, and wikis.  The included modules are from Drupal 6, the Drupal development community, and Acquia.  Users can download the modules and quickly set up a Drupal site via a wizard-driven interface.  This relieves users from the heavy lifting that would include finding the key modules themselves and wrestling with integration.

Other Acquia services include support for all modules of Drupal 6 through subscriptions to the Acquia Network, a suite of remote site management services that includes search, profile management, spam blocking, site usage statistics, and software update management.

The company also recently demonstrated Drupal Gardens, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of Drupal, based on Drupal 7, which is presently in alpha.  The offering is still unreleased at this time, but Drupal Gardens is intended to allow non-technical users to quickly set up Web sites via a browser-based interface.

Acquia is fitting itself into a timely niche in the open source market.  The company is leveraging Drupal, a content management system not known for its simplicity or ease of use, and introducing products that provide users with an entry point to using Drupal as well as delivering on simplicity, the previous lack of which may have held back adoption.  The complexity of open source, in this case Drupal, has translated into a business opportunity for Acquia to both offer entry-level solutions as well as build a business providing support services for the inevitable problems that will crop up.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the briefing room: Bluenog ICE

Thursday, June 25th, 2009 by Jonathan Spira and Cody Burke

Ten years ago, Basex laid the groundwork for the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE), a conceptual framework for a workspace for the knowledge worker that is now starting to supersede the traditional desktop metaphor of separate and distinct tools.  A properly designed CBE facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration and, especially in today’s economic environment, managers are looking to technology to give their organizations a competitive advantage.

Bluenog, an enterprise software company, this week released Bluenog ICE 4.5 (ICE stands for integrated collaborative environment), the latest version of the company’s enterprise software suite.  Bluenog integrates multiple open source software projects to form the basis of its platform.  The company, through its professional services division, will further integrate ICE into an organization’s existing systems.

Bluenog ICE originally included content management, portal, and business intelligence functionality.  ICE CMS is a content management system built on Apache Cocoon, Apache Lucene, OS Workflow, TinyMCE, and HippoCMS open source projects.  ICE Portal is a portal solution that leverages Apache Portals, Apache Jetspeed-2, Apache Wicket, Adobe Flex, and Spring Source.  ICE BI provides business intelligence and reporting and is based on Eclipse BIRT and Apache Jackrabbit.

These core components have all received enhancements for the new release.  The HTML editor in ICE CMS has been replaced by the TinyMCE HTML editor and ICE BI has improved report viewing and search integration.  Also new for this release is ICE Central, a simplified central management console for all ICE components, and a propagation tool to move content, portal artifacts and configurations across environments.

These improvements are all worthy of note but what may really help organizations realize significant enterprise productivity and efficiency gains is that Bluenog added significant collaborative technology to ICE, namely ICE Wiki and ICE Calendar.  The wiki component is based on the JSPWiki, Apache Jackrabbit, Apache Lucene, and Apache FileUpload open source projects.  The wiki is accessed through an ICE portlet and features rich HTML editing page level permissions, version control, reporting on page and link usage through ICE BI, the ability to manage attachments, support for wiki markup language, and support for multiple wikis running on a single server.

Wikis are an increasingly popular tool for content management within organizations of all sizes and ICE Wiki allows non-technical knowledge workers to create, edit, and maintain content using a fairly easy-to-understand interface.

ICE Calendar is a group calendaring application based on the open source Bedework project.  Just as in ICE Wiki, the calendar is available as an ICE portlet, and enables publishing of events, workflowing of events for approval, and importing and exporting events to other iCalendar-based calendars.

Bluenog ICE falls into the category of commercial open source software.  It’s built using open source projects but sold as a commercial package.  Virtually unknown several years ago, commercial open source is becoming a popular alternative for organizations of all sizes that want the openness of open source but don’t necessarily have the skills to do the heavy lifting to deploy and integrate multiple open source projects.

We’ll be taking a look at the changes that are taking place in the content management space, including where commercial open source fits in, in a report slated for next month.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.
Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

Open Source Reignites the Build v. Buy Debate

Friday, September 19th, 2008 by Cody Burke

Ten years ago, when a company made the decision to deploy a content management system, it was faced with the choice of either building or buying a platform.  It was just as common in those days for an organization to build a custom system from scratch as it was to buy a commercial content management system; indeed, the cost difference was negligible.  Since then the scales have tipped, commercial CMSs have become more affordable and the practice of building custom systems has been in decline.  Recently, however, the proliferation of open source CMSs has reopened the build v. buy question.

Companies have traditionally built their own content management tools because of concerns about the suitability of a pre-built, all-purpose CMS to meet specific needs, as well as the risk of being tied to one vendor.  In reality, these concerns are largely unfounded.  Vendors design such systems to deal with common enterprise situations, it is highly likely that a vendor exists offering a suitable solution.  Also, the risk of a vendor going out of business is less likely than that of a company’s lead programmer leaving, rendering the homegrown system near useless.

Furthermore, creating, upgrading, and maintaining a content management system is the core competency of a CMS vendor; they are able to better and more cost-efficiently improve their software, as need be, than the end-users themselves can.  Vendors also add features requested by other users, which may have widespread applicability.  Not surprisingly, sales of content management systems have spiraled in recent years.  This may, however, change.

Enter open source.  There are multiple open source content management solutions available today that come with the benefit of zero cost and full access to source codes.  Instead of building completely from scratch, setting up an open source CMS means downloading, integrating, and customizing the system initially, and ongoing work to support and maintain the system.  The core issues of the build v. buy debate still remain essentially unchanged.  The organization still must have the expertise to develop the system and maintain it, and pay for the weeks or months of developer time.  In the end, you either pay for the finished product or for the man hours it takes to build it.

A relatively new option, and one that merits serious consideration is the rise of open source specialists, who will pre-integrate open source, commercial, and existing systems using open source tools, and provide commercial level support.  One such option is the recently announced Bluenog ICE platform.  Bluenog offers Bluenog CMS, Bluenog RichPortal, and Bluenog BI.  All are available separately, or bundled as the Bluenog ICE platform.  Bluenog does the heavy lifting by building their products on open source projects, and pre-integrating with other open source and commercial products based on the specific needs of the customer.  The value added from this model is this: by using open source tools, the cost is significantly lower than a commercial product, the customer possesses the source code, and the system can be fitted to exactly the needs of the user, getting rid of excessive bloatware and unused features.  The negatives of open source, and building a CMS in general, are mitigated by the commercial level of support and pre-integration that negates the need to shift or hire staff to set up and maintain the system.

More and more companies are giving serious consideration to open source, and vendors such as Bluenog can present a pre-integrated, customized, and professionally supported open source-based CMS to decision makers.  For companies that do not have the resources to devote to implementing an open source CMS themselves, but are intrigued by the benefits of open source, solutions such as Bluenog ICE can bring the benefits of open source minus the negatives, and offer an alternative to expensive commercial CMSs.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

My Favorite Browser

Friday, June 6th, 2008 by Jonathan Spira

Does the world need another browser war?

You could be forgiven if you thought that the browser wars ended in the 1990s and were between Microsoft Internet Explorer and the Netscape browser,  This month the Mozilla Foundation will release Firefox 3.0, the newest version of the browser whose origins trace back to Netscape (which released most of its code under an open source license in 1998, creating the Mozilla Organization to manage development of the Mozilla Application Suite).  Although the release date has not yet been announced, the Firefox community aims to set a new Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in 24 hours by asking people to pledge to download Firefox 3 on its release date.

Since then, Microsoft has greatly improved Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari 3.0 is decent enough as well.  I’ve been using beta versions of Firefox 3.0 for the past few months and, despite a few small glitches, I have found it provides a far more satisfying Web experience than the competition.  It’s faster, more secure, renders pages perfectly, and has infinite functionality, thanks largely to Mozilla’s vast selection of add-ons, which are created by members of the Mozilla community around the world (remember, this is open source).

A few features are worthy of note including improved bookmark management (one click on the new “star” in the URL line adds the address as a bookmark, two clicks to file it in a folder) and smart bookmarks, which are folders that tell you which Web sites you visit most often.  Firefox (and IE but not Safari) warn users about to visit a Web site known to be a fake, but now Firefox warns of sites that can download malware onto your machine as well.

The battle is on.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

Lotusphere: Yellow is the New Black

Friday, January 25th, 2008 by Jonathan Spira

This week was the 15th annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Florida.  It was my 15th as well, although my count includes three Lotuspheres in Europe.

IBM unleashed a fire hose of announcements at the opening general session.  We’ll try to walk through the most interesting ones here.  It’s a lot of material but you should read through it regardless of whether you use mostly IBM tools or mostly Microsoft tools as there are implications here for all.

One memorable moment from the conference’s opening session: Mike Rhodin,  the general manager of Lotus Software, aped Steve Job’s keynote from MacWorld in which Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by pulling it out of an envelope.  Rhodin pulled the new (and very yellow) Lotus Foundations server out of an envelope.

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.1
While this may sound like an insignificant maintenance release, it most definitely isn’t.  There are some significant enhancements to be found in it.  (Of course, the move from dot-zero usually allows companies to start deploying the new version as many of them are allergic to dot-zero releases.)

8.0.1 includes several significant updates including My Widgets and Traveler.  My Widgets (which some, including IBM execs, call a Web 2.0 feature) uses a technology called Live Text that identifies patterns and phrases and associates them with an appropriate widget. (Live Text is similar to what Microsoft calls Smart Tags.)  One example would be the recognition of an address within an e-mail message and the ability to automatically display directions from the recipient’s location to that address.

Another example is retrieving real-time flight information by clicking on a flight number in an e-mail or itinerary.  Knowledge workers can add (via drag-and-drop) an almost unlimited number of widgets including Google Gadgets, feeds, Web pages, or custom programs to the widgets panel in the Lotus Notes sidebar.

8.0.1 also includes Domino Web Access Lite.  This is a browser-based e-mail client optimized for low bandwidth environments.  It’s AJAX based and includes in-line spell check, rich editing, and Google Maps integration.  The standard version of Domino Web Access has a much faster startup time.  Finally, 8.0.1 adds 35% compression for mail files.  Lotus is introducing some compression with 8.0.1 and further compression with 8.5 (see below).

Lotus Notes Traveler is a very cool client for Windows Mobile devices that provides automatic, real-time replication of e-mail (including attachments, calendar, contacts, etc.) to the mobile device.

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5
8.0.1 may be hot off the press but IBM is not sitting still.  Notes and Domino 8.5 will support AJAX, style sheets, and RSS or Atom feeds.  It also supports better ID management, compression technologies that can reduce storage requirements by up to 35% for attachments on Domino servers, and also reduce overall disk space requirements for databases by up to 35%.  Lotus will also update templates for discussion databases and document libraries and introduce Domino Designer 8.5, the first Designer client based on the Eclipse and Lotus Expeditor frameworks.  This will provide a full palette of AJAX-based controls that you can drag-and-drop directly into Notes and Domino applications.

Lotus Protector
IBM wouldn’t skimp on naming, this is really called IBM Lotus Protector for Mail Security, but what’s key here is that this is a hardware appliance (in bright yellow) that provides virus and spam protection through the IBM Proventia Network Mail Security System.  Protector also uses IBM Internet Security Systems’ threat mitigation and information security technologies and the IBM ISS X-Force research and development team played a significant role here.

Beta 4 of IBM’s desktop productivity tools, based on an open programming model, will be available by the end of this month.  The new beta allows software vendors to connect documents to applications; documents can access and manage applications such as the issuance of a shipping order or an invoice directly from a spreadsheet.  Information flows both ways; inventory data can pass into Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets for analysis.

Companies will be able to use the workflow inherent in Notes in conjunction with composite apps that are built using the Symphony tools.

IBM is making available a series of plug-ins including IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting, Lotus Sametime Unyte Share, and IBM WebSphere Translation Server on the Symphony community Web site.

IBM Applications on Demand for Lotus Notes
IBM Applications on Demand for Lotus Notes provides a hosted and managed environment for Notes and Domino as well as Sametime, Lotus Connections, and Lotus Quickr tools.

IBM Lotus Mashups
Mashups allows knowledge workers to create enterprise mashups such as ad hoc visualizations created by blending information or data from both enterprise repositories and the Web.

It includes a browser-based tool for mashup creation; ready-for-use widgets; a catalog for sharing and locating additional widgets and mashups; a builder for the creation of widgets that can access enterprise systems.

IBM Lotus Connections 2.0
The new version of Connections features a new home page built using Lotus mashup technology which aggregates and filters social data from the five Connections services, namely Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Dogear, and Activities.  This allows knowledge workers to see what’s new across their professional networks and find the information they need to finish projects.

Lotus has also enhanced the community component of Connections with discussion forums and the ability to link to various wikis including Lotus Quickr, SocialText, and Atlassian.

IBM Lotus Quickr 8.1
Lotus Quickr is IBM’s Collaborative Business Environment for teams.  The new version adds content libraries, team discussion forums, Weblogs, wikis, and new connectors to information sources.  IBM will release Lotus Quickr Entry, which will serve as a entry-level version of the platform.  IBM Also announced plans to integrate Quickr with various enterprise content management systems such as IBM FileNet P8 and IBM Content Manager.

Lotus Foundations
IBM hasn’t focused on smaller organizations, which it defines as businesses with five to 500 employees, in years.  Lotus Foundations is intended to be a line of Linux-powered software servers that are offered through IBM Business Partners.

IBM is counting on simplicity – the server software will require little technical expertise and will be autonomic – to appeal to this audience.  This means it should install without requiring an IT department to deploy and administer it.  The first Foundations offering will be a server with the Lotus Domino mail and collaboration platform, file management, directory services, firewall, backup and recovery, and office productivity tools pre-installed.

A key component of Foundations comes out of IBM’s acquisition last week of Net Integration Technologies, a privately-held company that provides a simplified business server software solution for small businesses.  It’s not a coincidence that the company’s platform supports e-mail, file management, directory services, back-up and recovery, and office productivity tools.

IBM and SAP announced a joint offering, code-named “Atlantic.”  Atlantic will integrate information from the SAP Business Suite into the Lotus Notes client, allowing knowledge workers to remain in one environment for more of their work.

Another interesting if somewhat amorphous announcement was the beta of a Web-delivered service with the code name “Bluehouse.”  Bluehouse provides extranet services (file sharing, instant messaging, social networking, Web conferencing, and project management) that allow smaller companies to collaborate with one another.

Lotus Open Collaboration Client Solution
IBM will offer an integrated Lotus Open Collaboration Client Solution with support for Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system from Canonical.  Ubuntu is popular for thin-client and desktop/laptop applications (as opposed to servers).  The client is based on Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony.  The client supports e-mail, calendar, unified communications, as well as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities that support the Open Document Format (ODF).  It’s built on Lotus Expeditor, which is based on the open source Eclipse Rich Client Platform.

Full support for Ubuntu within Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony is planned with Lotus Notes 8.5 in the second half of 2008.  The Lotus Symphony office productivity suite is included with Lotus Notes 8 and is also available as a separate download, at no additional charge.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.