Vignette weds content to apps

Seizing a ripe opportunity to layer its CM (content management) strengths into applications, Vignette Corp. this week plans to roll out a packaged application aimed at bringing value to portals and business applications.

The company will unveil its Financial Advisor Suite, a vertical portal application featuring built-in collaboration tools. Developed in conjunction with Accenture, the application integrates with corporate workflow processes and leverages analytics technology to control the level of interaction with specific groups or individuals, according to Vignette.

Recognising deep penetration of CM into a variety of business applications and portals, Vignette is taking a lead in edging from CM toward providing a complete environment for driving content through to applications, analysts said.

Future portal developments will target other verticals such as health care, said Bill Daniel, senior vice president of the applications products division at Vignette.

Last week the company unveiled its Enterprise Application Portal, which ties CM and BI (business intelligence) into browser-based management dashboards that can be used to customize work environments.

A solid CM strategy can lay the foundation for integration with portal and Web applications, said Rob Perry, an analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston. "CM and portals are closely related because the function of CM systems is to drive content toward a Web application. A CM system is key to creating content that can then be used effectively by applications," Perry said.

The third leg of Vignette's initiative, the Vignette Merchant Suite, will debut in late May. The application will bring content management to e-commerce transactions.

The packaged application approach will help enterprises that are "pulling hair out trying to figure out how many pieces to glue together to get their application needs met," Vignette's Daniel said. "We are creating those apps and shipping them."

Other CM vendors are eyeing this opportunity as well. Next month Interwoven plans to introduce a CM product line optimized for portal platforms. As part of its initiative, the company has formed a portal business unit and will announce several integration-themed partnerships with enterprise portal vendors.

"CM is essential to portals, but it is also a distinct area of specialty and highly complex software," said Tom Steding, vice president, intranet/portal business at Interwoven.

For its part, CM vendor Eprise plans to integrate its Participant Server CM system with Microsoft's forthcoming SharePoint portal offering. "With SharePoint's integrated document management for Office and Word, it is a good fit to put our CM system right in there to organize data into a portal presentation," said Hank Barnes, vice president of strategy at Eprise.

Open Market Inc., meanwhile, will continue partnerships with application and portal vendors iPlanet, IBM Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. Content management "is turning out to be a major hole in [portal] offerings. It's essential the CM vendors either offer portals or partner to provide tight integration," said Jeff Ernst, director of solutions at Open Market in Burlington, Mass.

Day unifies distributed data

Swiss software vendor Day SA last week rolled out the latest release of its Communique CM (content management) system designed to integrate disparate data sources from Web-based and legacy systems.

Communique is based on the company's ContentBus software architecture, which collects structured and unstructured data from any type of platform without using a metadata layer typically required by CM systems, said officials of Basel, Switzerland-based Day.

The ability to include such elements as the details of a commerce transaction, personalized data, and communications in the CM system allows enterprises to implement thorough content management, company officials said. Communique Standard Edition, aimed at small installations, includes multilingual content authoring coupled with administration and workflow features. The Enterprise Edition, scalable for large Web deployments, features an integrated development environment and licensing for syndication of content. An optional add-on, E-Business Suite, provides collaboration and personalization and speeds data across the Web. Communique runs on platforms such as Solaris, Linux, Windows, and AIX, and supports Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), Java Server Pages, and Enterprise JavaBeans.

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