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.

Revisiting the Content Management Frontier

Scene from the movie Alive, dead bodies in the snowTwo years ago, a journal was discovered while excavating in the Trough of Disillusionment of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies. The journal told a story of fear, distrust, and desperation.

Today another tome was discovered. Written hastily in the margins of an IDOL manual was the following text. It is estimated that this was written two days after the conclusion of the previously discovered journal (which you should read 1st). The author is unknown.

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Saying Goodbye to Documentum

One year ago, when Dell announced it was buying EMC, I wrote,

If you see Open Text or CA buy the ECD, start lighting the funeral pyres because Documentum would be officially brain dead and waiting for the machines to be turned off.

Well, it happened. OpenText acquired Documentum. This brings to end the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) wars that began almost 20 years ago. Back then, the leaders were FileNet, Documentum, Oracle, and OpenText. FileNet is buried at IBM who is flirting with Box. Oracle is struggling to reestablish itself after bringing on former Documentum leaders but they are fading away.

This morning, OpenText announced their acquisition of Documentum. I was hesitant to predict that OpenText was going to buy Documentum. It was the obvious prediction and I knew that it would be a chunk of change. $1.62 billion was the final price which covers the $600 million OpenText raised in May and another billion of debt commitment provided by Barclays for this transaction.

I suspect that nobody else was willing to pay EMC that much.

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Services, The Open Source Hedge Against the Cloud

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how the traditional vendors are being disrupted and are going to face an increasing number of challenges from the new cloud vendors. I want to take a minute to talk about why the Open Source vendors, like Alfresco and Nuxeo, are likely to not be disrupted.

Don’t get me wrong, the question of usability that hurt the likes of EMC, IBM, and Oracle still applies to the Open Source vendors. The key difference is that usability is the open door, not the actual disruption.

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Debating the Future of Content Management at AIIM 2012

imageBack before either Cheryl McKinnon or I were considering bringing our skills to AIIM, we submitted a proposal to this year’s AIIM Conference to moderate a panel on the Future of Content Management. For this discussion, we decided to bring representatives from the traditional, open source, and cloud-based Content Management worlds onto the same stage.

As a result, we have the following on the stage:

Pretty exciting group there. I have laid out some rules that we’ll be enforcing in the debate.

  1. No Selling: This is vendor solution approach versus vendor solution approach. Each speaker represents their entire Content Management vendor area, not just their own companies.
  2. Speak Ill of No Vendor: To be honest, if they want to say something negative about themselves, they can. If they want to say something bad about one of the other vendor groupings, that works as long as it is generic.
  3. No Speeches: Hoping for a discussion, not a few rehearsed viewpoints.
  4. No Selling: Or did I mention that already?

To warm things up, I asked them some questions to set the stage for next week. In addition, if you have any questions you’d like to submit to be put to the panel, add them to the comments below. I will be writing a follow-up afterwards to capture the debate.

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Looking Back on Pie’s 2011 Predictions

image I have been busy these past few months. How busy? Just look at my post rate. It hasn’t been for lack of topics, I’ve just been burning the candle at both ends.

Well, I’ve been on “vacation” for the past week and feel rested enough to take some time to write. Coincidently enough, I have two posts to write quickly, the first being this post evaluating the predictions for 2011.

As I did for the 2010 predictions, I am going to score them as either correct, incorrect, or partial (50%).  The partial is for predictions that were correct in the causes, but the effects were off.

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Nuxeo World 2011, A Healthy Start

I had the pleasure of flying to France to speak at the second Nuxeo World last week. While my primary purpose was to deliver a quick little keynote on Content Management Trends (slides and CMS Wire article), I had ulterior motives:

  • Where are they going?
  • Do they know Records Management?
  • Are they capable?

I had enough of an answer on each question to enter into a partnership with Nuxeo, but this was all about long-term planning and strategy. I thought I’d share what I learned while letting them learn that there are pros and cons to the publicity that they get by working with me, just ask EMC (who has accepted the balance).

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Nuxeo World 2011: Roadmap, Technical Strategy and Vision

Why would you not attend a roadmap session? Roland Benedetti, VP of Products and Marketing, and Thierry Delprat, the CTO, are going to get us all up to date.

  • Use a Scrum based development approach, 4 key disciplines
  • Roadmap Management
  • Modern Development Method and Tooling
  • Heartbeat and Iterative Development Method
  • Continuous QA and Release Method
  • Stressing the constant QA of the product
  • Opening the “roadmap” through Jira in the next week
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    Nuxeo World 2011: When ECM Meets the Semantic Web

    Decided to go see Stefane Fermigier, the founder of Nuxeo, and Olivier Grisel talk focusing on what Nuxeo is doing in the semantic space. While I may dither about whether or not the Semantic Web is Web 3.0, it is still cool technology and it holds great promise in solving a lot of findability problems in Content Management.

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    Nuxeo World 2011: Opening Keynote

    Attending Nuxeo World this year as a day 2 keynote speaker and as a sponsor. Those two facts are related but not tied together (My company didn’t pay to be a sponsor in order for me to speak).

    As I didn’t write an rules post, using this paragraph. As with EMC World, I will try and take notes. Errors and omissions are likely mine. I’ll be using the normal disclaimer.

    If you want to follow on Twitter, follow #NxX11.

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