Oracle is betting big that the predicted rise in spending on enterprise content management (ECM) software will come to fruition.
The company set its newly announced ECM software strategy into motion today with the release of Oracle Universal Content Management 10g Release 3 -- the first major content management product to come out of Oracle since it acquired ECM vendor Stellent Inc. last December. Oracle plans to release four other major ECM products over the next year.
Content management is becoming a more important problem to solve for large enterprises [because] more and more of what we create goes beyond just typical rows and columns
Melissa Webster, program director for content and digital media technologies, IDC
Oracle Universal Content Management 10g Release 3 features tighter integration with Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software and fully incorporates Stellent's technology to let organizations capture, store, manage, find, publish and retain unstructured content, according to Oracle.
A content management software primer
Content management software helps companies efficiently organize and manage growing stores of unstructured information like documents, email messages, images, videos and other digital content. Experts say it's a problem companies are increasingly being forced to face, given the proliferation of complicated data retention regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC predicts that the market for ECM software will jump from $3.5 billion last year to about $5.8 billion in 2011.
"Content management is becoming a more important problem to solve for large enterprises [because] more and more of what we create goes beyond just typical rows and columns," said Melissa Webster, IDC's program director for content and digital media technologies. "We've done a really good job of getting transactional data into databases but most organizations haven't done such a good job of getting control over all of the rest of the information that they have."
Oracle announced its content management software product roadmap at a press event in New York City about two weeks ago, saying it would roll out new releases of five ECM systems over the next year. Oracle Universal Content Management 10g Release 3 is the first to hit the market.
Looking ahead, Oracle will update its Records Management and Imaging and Process Management software and offer them as part of a bundle with Universal Content Management. The other two ECM products due for makeovers include an information rights management package, which controls who has access to documents, and a database content management suite.
Oracle competes in the content management market with a host of software vendors, including IBM and Open Text Corp. Like Oracle, both of those companies made acquisitions in 2006 to enhance their ECM offerings. IBM bought FileNet Corp. and Open Text acquired Hummingbird Ltd. Webster said Oracle also competes for ECM market share with Microsoft, which recently added new ECM capabilities to its SharePoint collaboration offering.
Webster explained that Germany's SAP AG -- Oracle's chief rival in the business applications market -- relies mainly on reseller partnerships for its content management software strategy.
"The real question for SAP is when do they jump into this market, because they're the one big platform vendor that does information management that hasn't jumped in," the analyst said.
SharePoint support tops list of new features
Oracle Universal Content Management 10g Release 3 offers five key new features meant to help companies maximize their existing technological investments, according to Greg Crider, Oracle's senior director of product marketing, and Michelle Huff, Oracle's principal product manager for Oracle Content Management. They include Microsoft SharePoint integration, flexible content storage, enhanced portal integration, content conversion from any enterprise application and integration with Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES).
Using the system's SharePoint adapter, WebParts for SharePoint, customers can search, browse and access SharePoint workflows directly from Universal Content Management. Huff said information can actually be moved from SharePoint into an Oracle repository so that it can be used with Oracle-based Web sites, portals and business applications.
Oracle says Universal Content Management's new File Store Provider architecture gives users more flexibility in determining how things like documents, executables, CAD drawings, PDF, HTML, XML, flash, and audio and video file are stored and managed.
"With the 10g R3 release, what we did was create a hot-pluggable architecture, pretty much giving users the ability to plug and play different content storage systems with what we call our providers," Huff said. "People can continue to use our file system, or they have the ability to create custom providers with other high-end storage systems such as NetApps or EMC Centera."
Universal Content Management now includes JSR 168-compliant portlets that expose key content management functionality directly from enterprise portals, giving users the ability do things like route and administer content through a portal interface. The software is also fully integrated with Oracle Fusion Middleware 10g components including the Oracle Application Server, Portal Server and WebCenter Suite. Additional support is provided for BEA WebLogic Portal Server, IBM WebSphere Portal Server and Sun Java Enterprise System Portal Server.
Previous releases of Universal Content Management offered the ability to transform native formats to PDF, TIF, HTML and XML. Oracle says it has added to those capabilities by building the system's new content refinery in Release 3 on a service-oriented architecture, thereby allowing customers to create custom conversion options for unique needs. Additionally, Oracle said the system's content engine can now be called upon from any application as a Web service.
Finally, the new release comes with a dedicated use license for Oracle SES. The license allows content managed by Universal Content Management to be indexed and accessed through SES at no extra charge.
"We're very excited about the integration of SES because, obviously, in addition to managing your content you need to be able to access it quickly," Crider said. "That's something that has been a real focus of ours."
Huff said Oracle Universal Content Management 10g Release 3 is currently available at a price of $100,000 per processor or $2,000 per user.