In 1996, a would-be MIT entrepreneur pitched me on this idea: “What if we could package up huge files like engineering drawings and email them to people instead of FedExing them?” I listened politely, but it all seemed a little futuristic to me at a time when even email wasn’t ubiquitous.
Of course, this is exactly the business YouSendIt launched in 2003. The nine-year-old company does this quite simply by using email to send the message and YouSendIt to carry the payload — the gigantic file that you can’t attach to the message directly. The company now has 23 million subscribers; according to Wikipedia, 500,000 of them pay for the privilege.
Today the company announced Workstream by YouSendIt, a set of business enhancements to its evolving set of file services. The goal, in the words of CMO Tony Nemelka, is to give enterprises “systems that extend their line of sight beyond central storage and beyond the firewall.” I found three notable things about this offering:
Integration with Outlook and SharePoint with plugins to make it easy to send and retrieve files. While this may not be unique, the integration is quite intuitive. In the experience of David Michel, CIO for Atlanta-based law firm Burr & Forman, giving employees tools they recognize makes it easier for them to use them. Further, it’s integrated into their common workflows such as eDiscovery.
Enterprise administration tools for user and group management. This is what IT needs in order to provide a business-ready alternative to consumer-focused Dropbox. It’s what drew Michel to the offering. Now, this is not lockbox-type security or administration that you could get from a virtual deal room product from IntraLinks, but it’s enough for email-level security and administration.
ECM vendor Open Text announced this morning that it intends to acquire Vignette, provider of Web and transactional content management technologies. In some circles, the acquisition of Vignette has been a foregone conclusion for many months now. Vignette has been an established player for years, with an impressive customer base. But the company’s missteps (a major WCM upgrade that stranded longtime customers, questionable expansions into non-core areas, inconsistent customer service and contact) have left them weakened in a market where they should have been able to take advantage of the lack of size and/or stability of some of its competitors. As a result, Vignette’s license revenues have declined in a hot content management market, and the brand has been devalued despite its strong technology.
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I'll give you five seconds to recover from your pun-induced groaning [5...4...3...2...1] Now, on to the news: Open Text announced late last week that it has acquired eMotion, a software-as-a-service digital asset management (DAM) product, from Corbis. Open Text plans to rebrand eMotion as Artesia on Demand for Marketing, complementing its full-featured, installed Artesia DAM product.
On June 24, 2008, Oracle announced its intent to purchase Skywire Software. This potential acquisition has three very strong positives:
Skywire enhances Oracle's ECM offering. Skywire Software has a document output management arsenal that includes Whitehill Technologies (InSystems) and Docucorp International, both of which the company acquired in 2007. Skywire's customer communication solution fills gaps and creates opportunities in Oracle's overall ECM suite. Universal Content Manager and Imaging and Process Manager can now provide complete structured solutions -- built for statements and bills for the print channel, and interactive output management -- creating direct marketing material, or collaboration and workflow for creating enrollment kits. In addition, pain points in customer communication can be addressed more broadly when Skywire's DOM solution is combined with Oracle's web content management products to provide a more complete multi-channel solution.
Forrester recently surveyed 233 IT decision-makers who have plans to implement or upgrade to at least some part of MOSS 2007 and asked: "Which of the following best describes your organization's time line for implementing or upgrading to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server?". The results? 21% will upgrade immediately and 41% will do so within 6 months.
With this level of adoption the issue of scalability comes up more and more. In one sense you have architectural concerns with any solution that scales horizontally, uses banks of load-balanced Web servers, application servers, and clusters of SQL servers on the back end. Add high availability and you quickly get a complex environment. To Microsoft's credit there is quite a bit available on performance guidelines. But looking through these, and coping with notions of site collections, lists, file arrangements, performance of folder hierarchies versus flat files, and automatic versus manual partitioning, the bottom line seems to be that even on the new 64 bit architecture with 4 screaming Intel processors, and SQL 5 -- the upper limit of the content repository is 500GB.
I went to the AIIM conference in Boston last week.My first AIIM show was in 1993 — where the ratio of demos to production systems was about a billion to one. For the historians out there, the 1993 show in Chicago had over 33,000 attendees. New optical disk jukeboxes and digital scanners were the rage. So it was good to see how far the industry has come in providing mature and productive solutions. Yet — AIIM is still something of a chaotic, disorganized, vendor-feeding frenzy that seems to somehow work for most attendees.
It's probably the Boston convention center and not AIIMs fault, but is it really so hard to have something available to eat before 11AM in the morning? I gave a talk on ECM Strategy Tuesday morning and wrongly assumed some protein would be available. I was not looking for something as complicated as an egg sandwich, just perhaps a donut. The Dunkin Donut cart seemed to have more interest then any booth — an impossible line and very poor inventory.
On January 16, 2008, Oracle announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Captovation, a provider of document capture solutions. With Captovation, Oracle extends its solution for ECM for transactional content by adding a strong capture solution. The acquisition is expected to close by February 2008. Captovation already has joint customers with Oracle/Stellent and had actually partnered with Optica even prior to Stellent's acquisition. In this sense the acquisition is not surprising. "Oracle Capture" will be the new product brand.
For Oracle customers, it makes a more complete ECM solution, one that can address paper capture for invoice processing for ERP applications or more convincingly incorporate unstructured content for Siebel. For Captovation customers it means increased R&D, investment protection, and access to Oracle's global support and services.