IBM To Ship Lotus Workplace Content Management Solution In 3Q

Buy of Aptrix Web content management viewed as positive for Lotus partners

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IBM's acquisition of Aptrix will likely be a positive for both IBM and Lotus business partners--but not necessarily ISVs--in the content management space.

During a press conference following the announcement Tuesday, Lotus Software General Manager Ambuj Goyal said the planned integration of Aptrix's Web content management software into the Lotus Business Unit will benefit partners that sell and service IBM WebSphere, DB2 and Lotus Domino.

Both IBM and Lotus business partners will be authorized to sell the planned Lotus Workplace Web Content Management solution, slated to ship in the third quarter, as well as next-generation versions/bundles of WebSphere, DB2 and Domino integrated with Aptrix's Web content management code.

Solution providers stand to benefit from the deal because of the increasing need for Web content management capabilities to be integrated into customers' existing portal and collaboration solutions to enable a realtime enterprise that delivers "the right content to the right person at right time on demand," said Goyal.

"This expands the channel for our business partners," Goyal said, noting that customers increasingly want integrated solutions. "Content management is not a separate market or purchase. People are trying to solve the collaboration and integration problem, and they don't want piece purchases but to make Web content management part of the common infrastructure.

"As [partners] engage in the marketplace, we're seeing more and more need for Web design and content management in the solution and integrated delivery of services. We see this as expanding our business-partner opportunity tremendously," Goyal added.

Competitors are taking similar steps as customers' need for integrated content management rises. Microsoft, which also acquired its content management server from a third-party ISV, is working on a project, code-named Spark, designed to more tightly integrate its forthcoming SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Content Management Server 2002.

Last October, Web content manageemnt ISV Vignette swallowed up portal vendor Epicentric in a $32 million buyout to enable realtime enterprise information delivery via the portal.

Goyal would not disclose the terms of the Aptrix deal, which was announced Tuesday morning. Aptrix's operations and 40 employees in Boston, London and Sydney, Australia, will be folded into the Lotus Business Unit, he said.

Aptrix is a close Lotus business partner, and the two companies co-market Aptrix's existing solutions for Domino, WebSphere and DB2. As a result, the transition and subsequent release of an integrated product won't be too difficult or lengthy, executives at both companies said.

Still, Goyal acknowledged that the tight integration of the Web content management solution in those leading IBM products--and the planned shipment of a stand-alone Lotus Workplace Content Management component in the third quarter--may not spell good news for third-party ISVs that develop stand-alone Web content management solutions for Lotus software.

Lotus will continue to work with ISV partners and provide hooks into their software, but the economies offered by an integrated solution will offer IBM advantages in the market, Goyal said.

"We intend to work both ways. We will have a stand-alone offering because our customers do look at Web content management as a purchasing decision, but many times we're seeing the customer wants end-to-end integration with portal, collaboration and common infrastructure decisions. Customers want a deeper integration of Web content management that reduces the overall cost of ownership and integrates Web content and just-in-time delivery."

Goyal said the Web management code fills an important hole in the product protfolio and will be embedded into all of Lotus' existing software products and new Workplace line.

"It's very critical for us to provide this kind of capability with tremendous TCO for customers and change management. Content management becomes as easy as 1-2-3," Goyal said. " We are filling a gap in our portfolio."

One Lotus business partner agreed that the Web content management move is good for IBM and its channel partners.

"IBM tried to do this a couple of years ago with the Black Crow [project], but it failed miserably. It was supposed to be integrated with Domino," said Kevin Gates, Linux specialist at Denver Solutions Group, Atlanta. "I could see [the integrated Web content management solution] being needed for research and development groups at pharmaceuticals and financial companies, because there, knowledge is everything and R&D teams need to coordinate information as much as possible."

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