Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

Just got back from the Lotusphere conference in Orlando (which sure beats Boston these days in the weather department – thanks, IBM!). At one of the sessions, IBM execs gave their take on the Web content management (WCM) and portal markets. Or should that be market? IBM is betting that the WCM and portal markets will converge and cease to be separate markets, with vendors offering combined WCM/portals suites that have one administrative tool set, one presentation management structure, one repository, and so on. From a road map standpoint, IBM is also making it clear that they don’t have a “portal plan” or a “WCM plan”, but rather an “experience” plan that includes both portal and WCM.

Will it really happen? Certainly, many intranets and extranets rely on content/experience delivery via portals. Also, many companies utilize public-facing Web sites for customer self service – a good fit for portal delivery. Already, SharePoint has made some noise with WCM and portal functionality within a single product. And given many firms’ clunky customized WCM/portal integrations, IBM can look attractive with its combination of Websphere portal and Lotus WCM.

So what are the obstacles to total WCM / portal convergence?

  • A good chunk of customer experience sites that still don’t necessarily need the user-customization and application consumption capabilities of a portal.
  • None of the vendors named as leaders in our WCM Wave evaluationfrom 2009 also offer portals. So currently, WCM buyers are faced with either giving up some functionality for a (semi-) integrated portal from the same vendor, or have to do the integration themselves. IBM, to its credit, recognizes that it will have to invest in its WCM product to better compete with top tier products in the market.
  • Some portal-less WCM vendors without an associated portal will claim that they can accomplish some portal-like functionality through widgets (FatWire is making a big push in the widget area).

From our inquiries, there is some demand for a WCM product suite that includes a truly integrated – but optional – portal delivery. Vendors offering both don’t necessarily have to license them together (many already have a la carte options in their WCM suites), but they could be part of the same product suite with truly integrated environments and user experiences. In addition to IBM, Oracle and Open Text could possibly compete in this area as well, as both have portals.

What do you think?


re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

An interesting thought. But I, for one, truly hopes this never happens. They aren't the same thing - you can have a Portal that has no WCM capabilities, or you can have a WCM tool that deals with use cases that have no need for the more complex portal functions (including the user-customisation example you give).

Have you considered the possibility that the reason SDL Tridion, Interwoven and FatWire are named leaders might be *because* they don't offer a Portal, and so get to focus on true WCM use cases? While the vendors such as IBM, Oracle, OTEX and Microsoft start to get into the murky realms of What Sits In Which Product, which can get very messy indeed.

While I'm here, I'd also like to say I do like your WCM Wave. There is another report that came out at about the same time which had Oracle UCM in the very top right, which bothered me enormously.

re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

As WCM tools will more and more evolve into marketing support systems, I foresee portal/portlet/widget ('self service') functionality will be more common in WCM tools.

I'm not talking about 'full blown' portal functionalities here. These will be more integrated with the architecture in deeper (OSI-)layers.

So the trend is in my opinion a bit different: not the tools (WCM and Portal) converge but some functionalities.

I can imagine IBM wants 'a tool to bind them all', but that's hopefully not going to happen. We all should have learned over the years that there is something as 'too big a tool' and 'too big a project'. A converged WCM/Portal tool is just that.

re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

As much as it pains me to say this I think IBM is right - partially. Not that its the right thing to do but that a trully unified portal/wcm will be wildly successful. It always surprises me though when I read these positions and the companies (with a straight face) act like its a new idea. IBM has been chasing this idea since at least 2005. The difference is that that MS is closer than they are now to actually doing it with Sharepoint and they feel they have to play catch up where the mindshare is concerned.

I don't think this means that pureplays go away for either segment though.

re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

Really a new trend? Vignette acquired Epicentric back in 2002. From that time the open source alternative Jahia (www.jahia.com) is also offering a thightly integrated Portal+WCM pack.

Some WCM are even built upon a portal+portlet technology. But most of the time they do not resell it as a "Corporate Portal Server" to focus only on web publishing needs. Analysts also tend to categorize products and market niches by technology rather than by usage. This is then harder to answer to the question: "Are you a WCM or a Portal?". Finally who cares?

As the Web evolved and makes more and more usage of dynamic micro-applications (be it some mashups, portlets, social gadgets,...) this increases the need to merge both technology. Moreover WCM tends to offer more tools to information workers. The current focus is on marketers but we should rapidly also see new "WCM Suites" for knowledge workers (HR, analysts, consultants,...) with a stronger focus on content intelligence and how their WCM can help them reach the next level of "mashability".

Convergeance betweet Portal+Mashup Centers and WCM makes then a lot of sense.

Best Regards
(I maintained some working relationship with the Jahia company)

re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

Really interesting, since 9 years, Jalios JCMS (WCM/Portal) claims that an integrated product provides a better customer experience.

That's why standard like JSR-168 or JSR-286 do not works because in real world Portal must relies on CMS features.

Since few years Jalios JCMS also provides integrated SocialNetworks and Collaborative Workspace for the same reasons.

re: Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

Seems there is an alleged trade-off between integration and separation of concerns. Different vendors might handle integration in different ways, but it can be done maintaining a clear separation of concerns. Case example is Hippo CMS with Apache Jetspeed Portal.

Some more thoughts on convergence here

(@ www.onehippo.com)