The news to start the week was that Oracle had agreed to buy Front Porch Digital – “a provider of content storage management solutions”. It’s an interesting and valuable acquisition because it plugs the only remaining gap in Oracle’s content portfolio – broadcast and media asset management – an area that IBM, HP, and OpenText have covered along with a host of specialized vendors.
As an interesting aside, Stellent owned Ancept (which plays in this space) for a while, but sold it to IBM shortly before Stellent’s acquisition by Oracle. Actually, it was sold to an IBM reseller rather than IBM proper but Ancept was always strongly associated with big blue. Later Ancept was sold to ViewCast, a hardware vendor.
Front Porch’s products are also mainly hardware and there is little information publicly available about their software and workflow standards. Their “secret sauce” is optimized storage hardware and integration with broadcast and editing systems. One easy win for Oracle sales people, though, is that there is pre-existing integration with StorageTek tape systems (another company with a tangled acquisition history).
I don’t know enough about the broadcast media space to know whether this is a good acquisition in terms of “best of breed” but it does help plug that gap in the offering portfolio – a real requirement that we often see in RFPs and in the past have had to address with integrations to third parties. It also fits with Oracle’s expansion strategy into hardware and engineered solutions. I can definitely see value in getting these acquired products to work with the SOA suite for Healthcare, for instance, as storage for DICOM and other medical images.
I think the real challenges will come with the transition for customers from a smaller vendor (FPD is a small, privately held company with less than 200 employees) to the hard-selling behemoth that is Oracle, and also in retention of key technical people. Oracle’s acquisitions of Stellent, BEA, and FatWire have all resulted in almost total turnover of the technical architects, developers, and product managers from those companies leaving major gaps in internal resourcing to sell and support those products.