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.
Oracle just launched their BPM 12c suite and Andy Kershaw presented a webcast on it this lunchtime (EST). This was mostly a business and marketing-driven event, so very lacking in the detail and architecture that I would have liked to see, but I imagine those types of presentation will be coming along later.
I was also able to review the Oracle white paper on “What’s New in Oracle BPM 12c” and the updated data sheet which gave some more detail on subjects Andy didn’t have time to cover.
From these two sources there are a few new areas of functionality that I will be interested in digging into a little more deeply:
- Ability to define business rules verbally in Process Composer sounds interesting and useful, but the devil will be in the details
- Better support for mobile – absolutely crucial these days.
- “Adaptive Case Management” – which I really hope isn’t just marketing fluff. If it truly delivers on the closer integration of BPM, Content, Data, and BAM it will be a great thing for clients who have previously had to cobble this together themselves.
- Better integration with cloud-based and 3rd-party applications – obviously Eloqua and Fusion Apps, but also Salesforce, SAP and others. Strangely, I can’t find info on this on the Oracle web site, but obviously this is a big advantage for the majority of businesses that are diverse in their vendor choices.
A lot of other interesting aspects of KPI tracking, better analytics, integration with Oracle R, etc. I wonder if a limited use license for this will still be bundled with WebCenter Content? It certainly looks like WCC is bundled with the BPM suite for use in Case Management.
I’ve been meaning to set up this expanded WordPress site to allow me to explore technical subjects in more depth than twitter allows and with more freedom than my company’s blog allows. So here we are – finally – after wrestling with my hosting partner, naming convention issues, WordPress configuration, and plugin challenges.
Needless to say – all opinions in here are 100% my own and do not reflect the views of my company, my colleagues, my former employers, or anyone else. All mistakes are my own and all incorrect conclusions, laughable assertions, and illogical conclusions would reflect only on me.