If you missed it, Oracle bought FatWire yesterday. Whether or not this was a shock depends on who you ask. In fact, I suspect that the tension of the sale has been rippling though events for several months.
This acquisition raises several questions, such as, does anyone care, that is, outside of the FatWire install base and those competing against FatWire? I think it matters. Not because of the actual purchase, but because of what Oracle does with FatWire. That will show us volumes about their long-term Content Management strategy.
Before proceeding into my world of hypotheticals, you should read Real Story Group’s collection of thoughts on the deal.
ECM or Expansion?
The first thought is trying to determine the purpose behind the acquisition. Well, there are two basic options. The first is the more boring option and the second seems too rational to be likely.
- We don’t have a good enough Web * Management option anymore, so we need to acquire a solution to claim a complete ECM story. This basically mean assimilation is the future of FatWire, which means an end to innovation.
- We need a Web Experience Management solution in order to more broadly serve all our customers information needs. This means integration and a chance that it will be allowed to evolve independently.
I see Hasan Rizvi quoted in the press release. He’s SVP of FMW (where ecm, webcenter & soa live) My guess: folded in
Meaning….FatWire is doomed. Regardless of the plan, how can you innovate in the web space when you release every 3 years? Want proof?
A long time ago, about a decade ago, Stellent was one of the leading Web Content Management vendors. They slowly expanded their functionality for an Enterprise Content Management play. They did well enough to convince Oracle to buy them.
Over the years, Oracle has maintained its lead over the other ECM players in the WCM space, at least in people’s minds. Meanwhile, specialized W*M products arose and took the market lead.
The same thing will happen to FatWire. Why? Simple rules of the industry. 2-3 year product cycles cannot compete in the web marketplace. That was the foundation of my critique of EMC’s Web Publisher.
Speaking of EMC…
Looking Back on SDL
I wrote a short little article for CMSWire about why EMC partnered with SDL Tridion in addition to FatWire a few months ago. It basically said that it was about offering choice to the EMC community. I still think that is true.
That said, let’s speculate and deal with rumors for a bit…
It is probably also true that EMC didn’t want to put all their eggs in one basket. When the Fatwire partnership was announced, their wasn’t much public speculation about an acquisition down the road, but there was some discussion. That acquisition didn’t happen, obviously. When it didn’t, EMC likely knew that FatWire likely wanted to be acquired. EMC then found a new partner that was bigger (less likely to need a buyer) and happy to just be themselves.
This knowing that the relationship was going to end with one side marrying another vendor probably stressed the partnership. That stress may have been part of the source of the multitude of rumors that I heard over the past 6 months.
Of course, Oracle could have bought FatWire to both improve their offering and damage EMC. Wild speculation, but entirely possible.
It is also entirely possible that EMC may want to acquire SDL one day, but part of me views that as unlikely. Of course, all it would take is a rumor that IBM was going to acquire a W*M vendor and things could change quickly.
In the meantime, if Oracle subsumes FatWire, how long until they need to buy a new vendor to purchase all the innovation that they won’t be able to build themselves? EMC has given-up trying to innovate in the web space (rightly so). It remains to be seen which strategy will win out.