Alternatives for converging website production and delivery

Of late, many WCM as well as Portal vendors are touting their capabilities for more closely aligning content management and presentation management.

Frankly, I wonder what took them so long. After all, what good is content if it cannot be delivered and consumed? In my opinion, aligning content management and delivery should always have been a key use case.

Nevertheless, better late than never. In our research and among the vendors that we cover, we see three broad patterns for enabling this convergence:

  1. Single product: In this case, you use the same product for both Management and Presentation. Many WCM vendors have built presentation capabilities and conversely, many Portal vendors have built content management capabilities. While these may not be as good as those found in standalone products, they may be good enough for certain use cases. Examples of these products are:  Plone, Drupal, Fatwire, Clickability, Microsoft Sharepoint and quite a few others from this list.

  2. Multiple products from the same vendor: In this case, same vendor has products for these two aspects and the two products are usually used in conjunction with each other. Open Text  Portal and Web Experience Management (erstwhile Vignette Portal and VCM), and IBM Lotus WCM with IBM Websphere Portal are examples of this. Although the two products are separate -- with their own licensing and infrastructure requirements, and can function as standalone tools -- they work best together.
  3. Completely different products: In this case, you deploy completely different products for managing content and delivering it. You either use them in a completely decoupled mode or undertake custom integration. Some vendors might offer pre-built integrations or have partnerships that make it easier to integrate but you still end up with completely different sets of products. Autonomy Interwoven TeamSite managing content that is delivered via an Oracle Portal or Alfresco content delivered via Liferay Portal are examples of this scenario.

All of these are valid options and like everything else, there are trade-offs in terms of flexibility, ease of implementation, costs, and resources. For example, while the third option is probably most complex, it gives you maximum flexibility if you have a heterogeneous architecture consisting of one or more of presentation and management systems. We'll be detailing these pros and cons and offering some advice in a forthcoming advisory, but in the meantime, you can check our WCM or Portals and Content Integration research to see which products excel at which option. If you have any specific experience or feedback on this issue, please leave a comment below, tweet me or send an email.

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