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Open Text Pledges ECM Value Atop Microsoft, Oracle Foundation

Open Text, arguably the last independent enterprise content management company, this week will outline its plan to put its content management expertise atop infrastructure from Microsoft and Oracle.

"Microsoft and Oracle are rightly asserting themselves in the ECM space and we'll deliver underlying ECM services, document management to work across the whole enterprise," Kirk Roberts, president of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company told CRN.

Despite the ECM label, most systems carrying that moniker thus far remain islands of information, Roberts said. ERP information remains distinct and separate from, say, office worker information, for example.

At the company's annual conference this week in Phoenix, it will announce Open Text Livelink ECM 10 -- the newest release of its ECM which adds new integrated content- and Web services that allow Open Text and partners to develop solutions also using Microsoft and Oracle technology. A new Enterprise Library promises central management of content that resides throughout a company.

In addition, a Customer Information Management product promises to capture and manage customer data from multiple back-end systems and serve it up via Microsoft Office desktop applications. It is available now starting at $150,000 for 100 users, the company said.

Open Text Enterprise Library, Roberts said, "lets you manage [diverse] content in the same environment." A lot of corporate data resides in dispersed SharePoint servers, this would enable a central way to manage and administer that data, he said.

"We're building out a software layer and componentry that integrates with Oracle, SAP and Microsoft applications," Roberts said.

Of course that task of building on value atop rising functionality from Microsoft or Oracle can be a hard race to win. Both companies have their own stated ECM plans as does IBM, which purchased FileNet earlier this year, and which is probably the most direct competitor to Open Text in many situations. Oracle bought Stellent, another independent ECM provider, last month but had already been pushing its own database as an ideal basis for management of all sorts of content.

There is speculation that Hewlett Packard or another player might step up to by Open Text.

Bob Richards, vice president of sales for Formark, an Ottawa-based solution provider partner is bullish on the new plan, which he sees as a logical extension.

"We've treated Livelink as infrastructure for five years and implemented Microsoft solutions atop it," Richards said. "Back in 1999 we built a COM wrapper for LiveLink API, then in 2003 we converted to a .NET wrapper and now with SharePoint 2007 we'll use the MOSS [Microsoft Office SharePoint System] platform for development," he noted.

Richards said companies need more in content management than Microsoft or Oracle alone provide. "The user needs three things: User acceptance, and everyone uses Office. The ability to meet business requirements and MOSS will provide that. And third they need long-term ECM, where Livelink provides the important records management and archiving."

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