Key Criteria for Buying
If your organization does decide to buy a commercial CM system, what should the major criteria be? Requirements can vary considerably. However, key considerations typically include availability and performance, multiplatform operability, customer support, and the ability to integrate with other applications, databases, and management tools.
IBM, on the other hand, tends to position its software as a middleware infrastructure for running ISV and customer applications. IBM's infrastructure includes software branded under the DB2, WebSphere, Tivoli, and Lotus monikers.
DB2 Content Manager Version 8.2, an update expected to ship at the end of this month, will bring better integration with all IBM middleware, resulting in faster search, retrieval, and replication functions, maintains Janet Perna, IBM Software's general manager for Data Management Solutions.
In accordance with IBM's long-time multiplatform strategy, version 8.2 will run on Sun Solaris, Microsoft NT/2000, and IBM's own AIX and zServer servers.
In contrast, Sun's new CM initiative will initially support only Solaris for Sparc and Solaris for x86 applications, says Sun's Sarkar. "Some of our [iForce] partners are looking at applications for Linux. Right now, though, these tend to be applications that run at the edge of the network."
Sun is taking the "infrastructure" idea into the hardware and service arenas as well. Partners in Sun's new iForce initiative are working with Sun's new Digital Asset Management Reference Architecture, which includes SunONE middleware together with SunFire servers, Sun StorEdge Arrays, and assistance with architecture, design, and implementation from Sun Services.
Meanwhile, with DocuShare 3.0, Xerox is now supporting Linux along with Solaris and Windows. In fact, Tulane is currently running a test implementation of the Linux edition right now.
"The comment I'm about to make isn't specific to Sun, at all," he adds. "As a general rule, though, the higher the number of products involved, the more fingers you have pointing to each other. It's exceptionally helpful when vendors are aware of one another's products. Resources can then become available in a more timely manner."
IBM's DB2 Content Manager is already tightly integrated with both the DB2 Universal Database and Tivoli's network management and security framework. Although Content Manager contains an embedded DB2 database, it also works with outside RDBMSes such as Oracle. IBM has also built Content Manager interfaces to software products from outside vendors like Siebel and PeopleSoft, according to Perna.
"There's a ton of [network] management stuff out there, too, from vendors like Computer Associates (CA) and Hewlett-Packard (HP)," O'Grady observes. "The question is, how well will it integrate with content management?"
Connector-style architectures are still widely in use. Just about across the board, vendors are looking to industry standards like XML and SOAP for multi-product integration.
Content management is getting easier with the advent of new commercial CM packages, vendor alliances, and some industry standards. End-to-end administration is the logical next step. System vendors like IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Sun are already at work on autonomic computing initiatives that are geared to providing more granular management capabilities and that require less manual intervention from administrators. It won't be long before these benefits penetrate the content management market as well.