By Kevin Komiega
—IBM is making a bid for a piece of the enterprise content management (ECM) pie with the acquisition of FileNet, a publicly held company based in Costa Mesa, CA, for approximately $1.6 billion. The deal, announced yesterday, is expected to be finalized later this year and could lead to a bigger effort by IBM in the object-based storage market.
FileNet's flagship software suite is the FileNet P8 platform, a unified ECM and business process management (BPM) platform. At the core of the P8 software is the FileNet Content Engine, which is an object-oriented metadata repository that helps users manage and move both structured and unstructured data.
FileNet also offers a range of software applications that run on top of the P8 platform, including the Business Process Manager, Content Manager, Email Manager, Forms Manager, Image Manager Active Edition, Records Manager, Team Collaboration Manager, and Web Content Manager.
Big Blue has big plans for the FileNet platform and will combine FileNet's operations with its own content management business to develop a wide range of new ECM products and services. First on the agenda is the integration of IBM's BPM and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) technologies with the FileNet technology.
Brian Babineau, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, says IBM's acquisition of FileNet is going to lead to a three-way battle among IBM, EMC, and OpenText in the worldwide ECM market.
"Domestically it's going to be IBM versus EMC-Documentum, and internationally they'll both be going up against OpenText," says Babineau. "It's going to be a real dogfight now that IBM owns another ECM platform and is planning to integrate it with its own software into a single unified platform."
Babineau also believes the IBM-FileNet deal could pose another problem for EMC by giving IBM cause to focus its considerable resources on the content-addressed storage (CAS) market.
"IBM's storage group now has this insight into the ECM world," says Babineau. "IBM did not have that much focus against EMC's Centera in the object-based and long-term storage market. This could wake the sleeping giant now that IBM has a conduit into that world."
IBM's current product in the CAS space is the TotalStorage DR550, which scales to 56TB and offers automatic provisioning, migration, expiration, and archiving capabilities.
FileNet's software platform supports a wide array of storage devices, media types, and multi-vendor software and hardware systems. The P8 platform also supports both rewritable and write-once, read-many (WORM) technologies for disk, optical, and tape media, and all storage networking topologies. FileNet's software works with magnetic WORM technologies from companies such as EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Network Appliance, and, of course, IBM. FileNet also supports tape and optical WORM offerings from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Plasmon, and Sun/StorageTek.
The P8 platform also includes FileNet's Active Storage and Retrieval (ASAR) services, which serves as the main element of the company's information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy. ASAR services enable policy-based content migration to different tiers of storage based on the business value of content.