Controlling Web content

The economy has slowed to a crawl, the world of so-called start-ups has crumbled, but there's still corporate data, data everywhere within and outside the World Wide Web. In addition, the need to manage the growing mountains of Web data has become even more important at a time when first-rate solutions are becoming harder to find.

In this month's Cover Story, freelance writer Johanna Ambrosio examines the changing state of content management solutions that is increasingly forcing IT managers to once again face the never-ending build-or-buy question. The state of the economy and its effect on suppliers of packaged content management software isn't helping development managers solve the problem.

Unfortunately for these managers, as the data under their control bursts at the seams, once-stable suppliers of hot content management systems are shuttering or being acquired, causing widespread consternation. As always, managers need evidence that a supplier can survive bad times and retain enough dollars to spend on keeping tools up to date. In this story, Ambrosio looks at the status of surviving Web content management pioneers like Vignette and Interwoven and one-time competitors like Eprise and Open Market, which were acquired by Divine Inc. and Microsoft, respectively. Many others have left the scene.

As the search for traditional Web management tools becomes more confusing, Ambrosio finds that some organizations are looking at a new breed of content management systems from longtime configuration management toolmakers like Merant, Rational and Serena. The market confusion is also inducing many development groups to look seriously at internally developing proprietary Web content management systems in the bid to gain control of data.

Analysts suggest to Ambrosio that most sites can get away with choosing a packaged toolset from the array of capabilities and pricing schemes available from the surviving suppliers. In businesses such as financial services, where content is the key to the whole operation, rolling one's own system is worth serious study.

The story does note that no matter what method IT units select for content management, automatic tagging of content has become a critical pre-requisite. Users are tracking data through standard means, such as XML, or proprietary means to track content views and reuse content, Ambrosio finds.

Hopefully, the story can calm some fears that there is no answer to today's content management quandary. There are many options out there for the particular needs of specific industries and companies—most from packaged suppliers and some to be built internally. Don't give up.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.