IBM is falling behind competitors EMC, Microsoft and Oracle in Web content management capabilities, analyst firm CMS Watch argues in a new report.

In the past year, Microsoft rebuilt its Web content management from scratch with Office SharePoint 2007, EMC re-invested in Documentum’s capabilities, and Oracle acquired Stellent, an enterprise content management vendor with a strong focus on Web content management, CMS Watch says.

But IBM seems to be neglecting its own Workplace Web Content Management (WWCM) software, claims CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne. “That function has fallen between the cracks between their Lotus group, the WebSphere group and the Workplace team. Nobody has really grabbed that bull by the horns,” Byrne says. “IBM is very quiet around this whole product and they haven’t really enhanced it very much. … Some customers are telling us they’re kind of wondering what’s going on.”

IBM officials could not be reached for comment. On its Web site, IBM boasts that its Web content management software has helped the Wimbledon tennis tournament create a rich Web site for its many fans worldwide. Byrne says he doesn’t see any evidence that IBM has a plan or ambitions for its Web content management product. However, IBM’s public inactivity on this front is fueling speculation that IBM might be preparing a major shift in strategy, which might disrupt current customers, according to Byrne.

“They could be completely overhauling their whole strategy the way Microsoft did. It’s possible they could acquire a new tool,” Byrne says. “We’re trying to alert the customer base to some potential dislocation. When a product goes quiet like this, sometimes it means there can be an abrupt move in your [the customer’s] future.”

CMS Watch says it maintains a vendor-neutral stance by refusing to take money from vendors. The firm has previously criticized Microsoft’s Web content management capabilities in SharePoint Server, saying it creates extraneous JavaScript, has difficulties implementing complex forms of navigation, and does a poor job when companies use Web content that needs to be translated into multiple languages.

But Microsoft’s problems are typical of a new release, Byrne says. Microsoft, EMC and Oracle all seem to be putting time and energy into performing research and development and laying out specific road maps.

<p"It's pretty clear among those four vendors, IBM is paying the least attention to Web content management right now," Byrne says.

IBM’s specific shortcomings, according to CMS Watch, include the following:

— WWCM is confusing to buyers because it comes in two versions, a Java edition associated with WebSphere and a Lotus edition.
— The product is feature-poor compared to rival offerings, “especially with respect to globalization services, at a time when many large customers are re-examining their Web publishing operations in a global context.”
— IBM’s Web content management suffers from bugs, although IBM has lessened this problem somewhat in a recent release.
— The product has a relatively inactive customer community and there is far less publicly available information regarding WWCM than there is for other IBM server products, CMS Watch says.
— Customers looking for consulting and integration help with WWCM will find that talent in these areas is in short supply.

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