Open Text WCM is Searching for Searching
I recently attended Content World, the Open Text Conference for users, partners, developers and just about anyone interested in Open Text Products. Open Text has a product line that spans content management, records and media management, and web solutions.
I was there specifically as a speaker on a Web Solutions panel discussing current trends in Web Content Management regarding Web 2.0 - personalization and integration specifically. It was a good conference, tons of sessions, classes, break-outs and of course networking opportunities.
During my time there, I was particularly interested in the strategic presentations as it pertains to WCM. Formerly Open Text touted their Red Dot CMS complete with multi-language support, instant deployments, and easy to use interfaces. But now with a recent acquisition, there is another player in the Open Text CMS world, a java pure-play called Vignette. There was much to say about how these two products will be marketed, invested in, and continuing their respective life-cycles.
Most notable I thought, was the immediate social 2.0 tools that will be exposed to Red Dot. Vignette currently has two stacks for social media/networking called Community Services and Community Applications. These span the gamut from polls, ratings, and comments to moderated blogs, wiki's, and a social microsite. Now of course, you will need to have a Live Server (LS) implementation to take advantage of these out of the box features (and of course work out licensing) but they still serve as a welcome addition.
It is the Live Sever strategy, or lack thereof, I thought to be blog worthy however. Live Server or Delivery Server is the Red Dot content delivery methodology. Effectively without it, the published content is static. With it, the published content is decorated in a world where the limits of Web 2.0 functionality, integration and personalization are supposed to be endless. Yet at the very strategic web strategy road-mapping session, there is no talk of it. Huh?
Those who also attended may write this off as a technology oversight and when they spoke about Red Dot they meant both the CMS and LS. While others will say the meeting was to highlight the differences and compatibility of Vignette with the focus on marketing messages. While they may be a few, and mummers to this effect where scattered about, that Open Text will stop investing in LS in favor for Vignette's road map. I tend to believe the reason is somewhere in the middle and has more to do with another product other than Vignette or Red Dot.
The problem is Verity. Well, Autonomy - the self-proclaimed leader in meaning-based enterprise search. Verity was the search engine of choice that came bundled with Live Server licensing in years past. It is a powerful tool (relying heavily on its XML based declarative language VQL), that enabled everything from intra-site searching, to dynamic lists and navigation to personalized targeted content. In short, it kinda made the whole thing work. It was fast, easy to use, assimilated nicely and it worked out the box for free. I say "was" because now the parent company Autonomy, re-branded Verity IDOL, and now no longer includes it as a bundle. Therein begins the vendor wars.
This was all re-enforced during the "strategic" talk, by Open Text coming out and expressly acknowledging that Autonomy intends to market their own flavor of WCM and plans to pursue direct competition with Open Text. What now? Well two possible outcomes are in store for Live Server.
- (1) Open Text integrates a new search mechanism.
- (2) Open Text abandons LS for lack of a failing option .
Surprise surprise, option  was something that was discussed in detailed during the strategic session. Open Text is investigating two possible alternatives to Autonomy. They are looking to better integrate functionality with other proven search engines like Lucene and Google. While at the same time, they are internally developing a "new" project spoken of as Open Text Search. They carefully avoided any detail about this project other than investments were being made. And I suppose the future of Live Server depends on it, and now maybe Red Dot itself. The trinitarian product, CMS, LS and search are now held in the balance with what will happen to the third part. I guess like you, I must wait and see what is unveiled as the new roadmap for Red Dot.
One things was clear, there were tons of Red Dot partners, clients and users there clamoring for details, education and touting successful case studies. And since to date no CMS has actually tackled the multi-language challenge quite like Red Dot has, I think Open Text will do the smart thing: continue to invest in a product line that works and people like.