Open Source ECM is Dead

imageIt finally happened. An acquisition in the ECM space that was so newsworthy I had to write about it. One so big that it is going to fundamentally change the market.

Hyland just announced that they are acquiring Nuxeo.

I never thought that an acquisition involving these two firms would be so newsworthy. However, this is the second acquisition of a major open source ECM vendor in the past year by Hyland. And that is the problem.

There were only two major open source ECM vendors in the market.

That’s right. A single vendor, who was not in the open source market before they bought Alfresco, has acquired both major players. While this may not spell the end of open source in the ECM space, it does mean the end of true choice.

And only with one choice, you do not have a competitive ecosystem.

The Coexistence of Alfresco and Nuxeo

Let’s look at the practicalities of the acquisition, putting aside the open source nature of both Alfresco and Nuxeo. Alfresco was a good fit. They had a larger footprint with “enterprise” customers and their content services architecture was more cloud ready. There was a little bit of overlap but there were lot of reasons to not worry.

Nuxeo overlaps with Alfresco quite a bit. It has a stronger digital asset management (DAM) offering and a more advanced technical architecture. It is lacking in records management features, though that can be compensated by leveraging a tool with federated records management capabilities, like the one within Alfresco.

Alfresco was liked by enterprise buyers. Nuxeo was liked by the technical geeks. However, as Alan Pelz-Sharpe points out, there was no love lost between the vendors because they saw each other, rightly so in my opinion, as each others main competitor.

Future of Content Services

Right now, Hyland is a big unknown. Will they provide information governance capabilities for Nuxeo and use that as their cloud baseline? Will they take Nuxeo’s DAM and engineers but ditch the rest? Whatever the direction, it will take time to get everything structured at Hyland and moving in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 and Open Text have to be a little concerned. If Hyland does things correctly, Hyland is going to be a strong competitor. Best case scenario, they can leverage the uncertainty for the next year to retain customers thinking of leaving and to win a few more deals before Hyland comes out swinging.

The biggest winner, and likely the only one in both the short-term and the long-term, is Box. They have benefited by the on-premises ECM industry failing to successfully attack the cloud. They just got one more chance to “win” the industry, just when they might need it.

What Is Next?

It is hard to say. There is clearly an opportunity for some vendor to step-up and become a significant player. Perhaps one of the headless CMS (content management systems) players that are making a splash in the web content management (WCM) space.

To be honest, I half expected Amazon to buy Nuxeo and turn them into an AWS offering. If Amazon created an ECM offering, perhaps with Textract tied-in, that could be formidable. Microsoft may also decide to move past checkbox content services and turn SharePoint into a real platform.

A lot could happen. For the next few months, everything should be status quo. If I was a cloud native vendor, I’d be closing my gaps and getting ready to pounce on the clients being left behind. Right now, Box is likely the best positioned. Their largest weak spot, from a content services perspective, is their lethargic content modeling.

And that can be compensated for if necessary.

The ECM Magic Quadrant, The 2010 Edition

imageSo Gartner released the new Magic Quadrant last week.

Um…..

I’m a little torn here.  It is an important piece of research and of value and all that, but…

  • Those in the Leaders quadrant frequently aren’t leading.
  • Too many people look at the report and research the market no further.
  • Enterprise Content Management cannot be bought.  It is a strategy.  I can buy a Content Management platform or suite that supports my ECM strategy, but I cannot buy ECM.

Of course, it is full of useful/interesting facts, so let’s dive into it…[download a copy from Hyland Software.]

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ECM Industry Goals: Move the ECM Industry Forward

I started this on Monday discussing the importance of goals in general, using the setting of goals for yourself as a starting point.  The same logic applies to a company, and its industry, as well.

Think about it, why is a company in business?  Yes, to make money, but that goal will only get you so far, just ask the gnomes.  You have to have something to offer and the ability to convince your customers that you can deliver and still be around in the future.

So in order to inspire your employees and your customers, you create a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).  For example, maybe you want to create the market leading ECM solution.  Ten years ago, that was a challenge.  No one company had all the capabilities in house and the leadership of the market was in flux.  Now, to hit the same goal, you just take aim at the big boys and go forward.

But what does that really get you?  Are you leading or just following the trail already blazed?

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Forrester Makes Gartner Look Inclusive

A couple months ago, Gartner released their annual ECM Magic Quadrant (which I looked at).  Sure enough, being an odd year, Forrester released their ECM Wave.  I see the pros of waiting two years as the larger vendors take that long, or longer, for a significant release.  On the other hand, you have longer to wait for new members to show up.

Well not in Forrester’s world.  Only one new vendor (HP) was added and a few were cut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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The 2009 Magic Quadrant for ECM

[Note that my post on the 2010 Quadrant is now available.]

Thanks to the Documentum voters splitting their time between two topics, discussing the recent Gartner MQ for ECM is today’s topic.  The voting was an interesting little diversion that I’ll revisit later.

I’m going to talk about the report here.  The recent controversy around Gartner is a post for another day.

Staying Out of Trouble

image Last year I was threatened (my word) by Gartner for putting a copy of the MQ here.  I was also chastised for several other nitpicks. So I will only link to Oracle’s courtesy copy of the 2009 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management this year to avoid wrath.

One thing to remember is Gartner really doesn’t want you to compare a vendor’s location in the MQ from year to year. That is both well-advised and unrealistic.  To be fair, as the measurements and industry change, scores change.  Movement isn’t just dependent on vendor action, or inaction.

However, we are human and we like to perform comparisons. I have a copy to perform the comparison for my own interest.  The link I had online to last year’s report is no longer valid, so you’ll have to take my Word on it.

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The Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, 2008

[Updated 11/10/2008 in order to make Gartner, Inc. happier, or at least less angry.]

One thing about writing entries on public transportation, no Internet.  This make is tough to refer to web sites that haven’t been opened and cached.  As a result, today (I’m optimistic, so I’m not saying “this week”) brings you Gartner, Inc.’s 2008 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management review.  Released on September 23, 2008, the biggest surprise was the number of vendors that didn’t hype it.

An important note from Gartner, Inc., Gartner advises readers not to compare the placement of vendors from last year to this year.  With that in mind, since I’m human, here is a link to my post about last year’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management titled, The ECM Magic Quadrant, for reference.

Enter Open Source

Before we get to the chart, there are two big developments to take note of this year.  The biggest is the inclusion of Alfresco.  That’s right, an open source vendor has arrived.  They are listed categorized as a niche player so far in this report.  Considering limited, but growing, adoption and their evolving product, that is understandable.  I think that their vision got dinged because they have been taking a stronger collaboration (read Enterprise 2.0) tack as of late, but that is just conjecture.

I think they may be selling Alfresco short, but marketplace adoption and confidence is a factor in this study.  It will be interesting to see how the perception, and reality, evolves over the next year.

Other open source vendors will be slow in appearing here as Records Management is considered a core requirement to be in the chart report.  I agree with this, but I may set the bar lower for compliance than Gartner, Inc. does as I think basic retention policies are all that is required.

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