Day sets sights on web content limelight

It’s a sore point among many web content management (WCM) companies that analysts tend to group them under the banner of enterprise content management (ECM). While there has undoubtedly been cross-pollination between the two, particularly since the arrival of Microsoft SharePoint, WCM vendors feel that ECM is so broad and so overpopulated with companies trying to differentiate themselves that the category lacks a core message.

Day Software, which offers CRX, a commercial Java Content Repository that draws on the open source Apache Jackrabbit and Sling projects, is a classic example of a WCM company obscured by this ill-definition. But as businesses start to marry Web 2.0 with content management, Day hopes to change all that. The Swiss company’s Comminiqué 5 (CQ5), a web content management platform architected from the ground up for business users of WCM, social collaboration and digital asset management, has been picking up awards across the sector, most recently InfoWorld’s ‘Best Web CMS 2009’.

CQ5, which the company thinks will appeal particularly to marketing departments frustrated by the inflexibility of publishing fast-changing marketing materials via web production or IT departments, allows content to remain in its original location by using a virtual repository. That means that organisations with multiple content management platforms can bolt on CQ5 to provide more specialised WCM functionality such as gathering knowledge capture using Web 2.0 techniques. Connectors already exist to most mainstream ECM packages.

That level of integration will be of little surprise to insiders in the WCM market, given Day’s leadership position in industry standards. The company has championed content management product interoperability through the definition of key standards (JSR170 and JSR283) that have tried to loosen the vendor lock-in of proprietary ECM products. Indeed, the current enthusiasm for content management interoperability specification (CMIS) by major vendors such as EMC largely stems from a push by Day several years ago.

Consequently, the company is much-loved by systems integrators and others working deep within the cogs of information management systems.

But Day feels it can widen that appreciation. Kevin Cochrane, a veteran of the WCM industry, recently joined the company as chief marketing officer with the remit of getting it onto more corporate radars. Cochrane’s career includes stints at Interwoven and, more recently at Alfresco, where he became a passionate advocate of open source.

“How do you tackle Microsoft? Open source is the only way,” he says, explaining that the ECM community stands to benefit as a whole from the drive to open standards. “The only reason why [the big players] have changed their position on [standards such as CMIS] is that IT organisations need it and are demanding it,” he says. “Once you do standards, price points are going to come down. It will also open the door for more mid-market ECM vendors.”

Until recently, Day marketed itself almost entirely through word-of-mouth, a characteristic born out of its pure technology focus and the tendency of its Apache engineers to see sales efforts as a distraction. Even Gartner calls for some more fanfare, suggesting that while Day’s products “appeal to buyers who want technical excellence combined with usability,” the company “needs to strengthen its focus on business buyers.”

Cochrane has certainly made a running start at raising Day’s profile, claiming that the company’s search functionality “already approximates 80% of Autonomy’s capabilities”, and insisting that Day’s ultimate goal is nothing less than to “consumerise information management” in “the same way Apple consumerised the laptop”.

As a former employee of Interwoven, Cochrane is well-positioned to comment on Autonomy’s acquisition of the WCM vendor, an event widely expected to have significant ramifications on for sector.

“It’s important to understand that Autonomy was mainly attracted by Interwoven’s legal software, rather than its WCM software. Interwoven, like so many of its peers in the first wave of enterprise content management software, grew largely by acquisition, so its product platform evolved around multiple repositories and content architectures.  

“Although these vendors were the pioneers of their times, today it is nearly impossible for them to adapt their complex architectures, interfaces and even pricing models to the stark realities of modern business. I believe Autonomy was the best possible buyer for Interwoven at this mature stage in its life cycle [but] Interwoven spent too long in the wilderness before Autonomy came along.”

Like several other WCM vendors, Cochrane suggests Autonomy’s focus on Interwoven’s legal capabilities might unnerve some of its existing customers into jumping ship.

“Does the fact that Autonomy might have some disenchanted customers looking for new alternatives during the recession help our cause? Certainly,” he proclaims.
Day’s technology has given it a solid fan base of developers.

It remains to be seen whether its new-found aptitude for marketing can extend that franchise. Today, Gartner lists the eight visionaries of ECM: IBM, EMC, OpenText, Oracle, Microsoft, Interwoven, Vignette and Day. Day currently looks like the odd one out, but the content management company is convinced it can make such perceptions disappear.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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