Janet Perna, general manager of IBM Software's Data Management group, and Brett MacIntyre, vice president of content management for IBM Software, spoke with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow on Thursday, a day after IBM announced its acquisition of Green Pasture Software, a Corvallis, Ore.-based provider of document management applications. The deal marked the third content management-related acquisition within a year for IBM Software.
CRN: What does Green Pasture bring to IBM's table?
PERNA: What it brings to us is compound document management. It's the ability for multiple people to prepare complex documents in a collaborative way, to keep track of versions and so forth. It's used widely in industries that are regulated, like pharmaceutical industries for drug submissions and companies that need to keep track of engineering drawings. You can think of personal documents that you and I might use--that is, personal documents we create and retrieve. Then there are workgroup documents, where you and I might work on documents one at a time. And when you think of many people working on the same document, you need to preserve and manage the integrity of that document as people are check it in and check it out. That's really [what we mean by] compound document.
CRN: So you're talking about simultaneous access?
PERNA: Yes, simultaneous. So you and I can both check out pieces of a document, and each one can work on it and check it back in.
MACINTYRE: Also, the whole set of links--the spreadsheet or diagram--has to go into this part of the document and is being contributed by this person. And before it can go into the document, it may need approval. It's the work process to create the document and permissions.
CRN: So going forward, will IBM integrate this into DB2 Content Manager or make it a separate product? Can you discuss product plans and packaging?
PERNA: Green Pasture has been a partner of ours. They've taken compound document management capability and integrated into DB2 Content Manager. What that means is the content that's created is stored within the Content Manager already. As you know, what we've delivered is a content repository in Content Manager that is high-performing, scalable and reliable, and that's the base infrastructure. We have capabilities on top of that for imaging, report generation and now compound document management, multimedia, Web content management and the like--as well as the content semantics that go with that. Not only did we announce the [Green Pasture] acquisition, but we also announced the delivery of a product called DB2 Document Manager, which will be available by the end of the week.
CRN: Not only was Green Pasture a partner of yours, but also it was closely tied to FileNet. Can you use that to win new customers from FileNet?
MACINTYRE: Green Pasture was a spin-off from a company called Thermo Dynamics. [Green Pasture] has been on the market for a number of years and supported a number of repositories, starting with FileNet Panagon, as well as IBM Domino.doc and Content Manager repository. Going forward, we'll continue to support the people who have used IBM's [DB2] Content Manager at FileNet. FileNet has released a new repository called P8, which many customers are looking at and seeing that it has a totally different architecture. We're working with these customers.
CRN: So I guess the answer is yes.
MACINTYRE: Well, it's not a forced march.
CRN: What's going on in the content management market these days? For example, EMC bought Documentum, and there have been a number of other deals. Is the consolidation going to continue?
PERNA: If you look back at interviews we've done in the past two years, every time you ask what's new I talk about the emerging area of enterprise content management. We can see the consolidation taking place now, but it's something we've been working on for a number of years. What's driving it today? First, there's a great desire among companies to save money, and they can do that by digitizing content previously stored on paper, microfiche or other media. Not only is it cheaper in terms of physical real estate, but it's also easier to share. Second, they're learning that they can improve operational productivity now by doing things like automating their claims-processing applications and really being able to implement digitized workflow. It gives them better productivity and a way to provide better service to customers with call-center access to all of that content when a customer calls. It costs four times more to make a call back than to answer the question on the first call. Third, all the regulations now around things like [the] Sarbanes-Oxley [Act], SEC compliance, HIPAA and Basel II have to do with life-cycle management of pieces of content. And fourth, if you look at end-to-end business integration and on-demand computing, they require seamless flow of information, and that information comes in all forms--some in documents, some in relational databases. But to get the value and optimization of this requires digitization of content. A lot of things are coming together there to help companies save money, improve service and be in compliance with new regulations.
CRN: In terms of timing, is there a macroeconomic situation taking place, in which the market is coming back so companies are buying now?
PERNA: There were a lot of niche players here. If you look at IBM, I think [research firm] Gartner has us as the market-share leader with 23 percent share, and there are lots of smaller players. What we're seeing is a buying spree here. It's accelerating, and we're kind of in the tornado phase of crossing the chasm. At IBM, we've made three acquisitions in this area in the last 12 months: Tarian for record management, Aptrix for Web content management, and now Green Pasture. This [market] is consolidating quickly, and I'm pretty sure some will be left out in the cold.
CRN: Any idea who will be left out?
CRN: FileNet is out there. Oracle needs to respond. Maybe there's an interesting pairing there?
PERNA: We compete very, very well with FileNet today and with Oracle. I don't know. It might be an interesting pairing.
MACINTYRE: Customers are asking for information infrastructure. They're asking for an enterprise content management solution to have room for all forms of information. Consolidation is being driven because customers are asking for this. Oracle will need it, and Microsoft will need it . . . [as will] FileNet, Interwoven. We'll see who's able to build that capability.
PERNA: This area will grow faster and larger than relational databases. Think about relational databases. They've been out for 20 years now, and this space is projected to be a $9 billion market by 2007. Oracle has been asleep at the switch here.
CRN: What's the market now?
MACINTYRE: About $4 billion today.
CRN: Do you see EMC/Documentum as directly competitive with what IBM is doing or just marginally competitive?
PERNA: If you look at IBM's total capability, it starts with applications being able to access information. So it starts at the portal interface, going all the way back through the content repositories, apps built on content repositories and, at back end, database storage management, hierarchical storage management and virtualization of storage devices and servers. It's really an end-to-end capability. Think about what IBM has in its software. We're building out capability starting with WebSphere Portal Server, WebSphere Application Server, our collaboration capabilities, our capabilities around enterprise content management, our database technology, our Tivoli storage management technology and right on out through SAN file servers and support that virtualizes all forms of devices. What EMC has . . . I feel like they're responding to what IBM has laid out as a vision.
CRN: Documentum is a player . . .
PERNA: In one piece, which is enterprise content management.
CRN: Everyone is attacking this area from their strong position. EMC is obviously very strong in storage and now has some play in enterprise content management. What you're saying is that IBM already has a bigger footprint?
PERNA: We have a bigger footprint in content, and they have no footprint in databases. We have a bigger footprint in storage management in terms of virtualization of storage, and they really don't have that in heterogeneous storage, portals and Web application serving. They have nothing [in those areas].
CRN: Where does VMware play in this equation?
PERNA: I think, again, they are responding to IBM's On Demand set of capabilities. In this particular case, IBM has very, very strong capabilities building out around server and storage virtualization. As far as I can tell, [VMware is] attempting to respond to that.
CRN: On the other end, Microsoft may be years away from enterprise content management. But many say they've done a smart thing by putting very basic document routing in Windows SharePoint Services, which is 80 percent of what smaller companies might need, plus engaging in partner efforts and plan to come up to the enterprise later.
MACINTYRE: What they've done is exactly what you described. They have some point solutions and a couple of domains to meet basic needs--basic document management, basic routing capabilities. They don't have what customers want. They don't have imaging, report management, records management--the things large companies are asking for to be compliant and realize cost savings. They're light-years away.
CRN: To recap, what's the product rollout for IBM on the Tarian records management stuff?
MACINTYRE: It was incorporated on day one of the acquisition. There was already a record-management enabler between the Tarian Records Engine and our content manager. Since then, we've done two releases on records management: one was to fill out internationalization and the second was a rewrite of the code into Java. It was a busy year for the Tarian Records Manager. It's a record-management engine that hooks into ours and others' content repositories. It allows companies to have a uniform records plan. They can say, 'This type of spreadsheet needs to be kept for three years and then can be moved onto secondary storage.' So any financial records that are stored in the content manager, file system or Microsoft SharePoint system have a uniform records-management plan. That's very different from what others do. It hooks into any type of repository. It suits large customers and all the way down to small customers. It's OEM'd by a number of companies.
CRN: With Green Pasture/Tarian, are we talking about the enterprise as the target market?
MACINTYRE: Not really. In records management, any publicly traded company needs to do that. If public companies equals enterprise, then yes, but many smaller companies need it. With Green Pasture, all sorts of companies need to manage compound documents.
CRN: Why should solution providers need to know about Green Pasture and IBM?
MACINTYRE: We now have enterprise content management capabilities that people are asking for and an extensive network of partners to provide solutions atop the base infrastructure. While we have compound document capabilities, we have no templating or versioning for particular domains. What are the templates required for building an annual report or for a drug submission? It's a great opportunity to customize.
CRN: We hear from you all the time that IBM is the best ISV partner because it won't get into apps. But some might characterize content management as an app. Do you see any conflict there?
MACINTYRE: Not at all. Content management is databases for unstructured data. We provide the infrastructure and semantics for ISVs and others to use. We have ISVs putting customer claims letters into call centers and insurance claims applications using our data repository. What we do is provide the middleware to enable applications to be built.
CRN: Going back to Janet's comment about consolidation. Are we at the end, or do you see it continuing?
MACINTYRE: My thought process is we're doing what people are asking for--end to end capability. No one else has it, and to respond they'll need to build. There's a lot of domain expertise out there, or they will need to buy.