I was fortunate enough to attend a partner conference at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, California, just prior to the announcement of the rebranding WebCenter product launch. Our meeting focused on Oracle’s vision purpose behind the rebranding and grouping of their portal, content management, web content management and enterprise social applications. During the meeting, we were presented with Oracle’s already published pending acquisition of FatWire (which has since been re-branded to WebCenter Sites).

Grouping these technologies together into a single family of products makes total sense and will definitely make it easier for Oracle’s customers in navigating the wealth of solutions that Oracle offers, but I was perplexed as to why they added FatWire to their family.

I was a former Stellent employee and, along with the company, came into Oracle through an acquisition in early 2007. During my time at Stellent, and in the few years after that while at Oracle, the content management team had a view that if we were competing in a deal with FatWire for content management or for web content management, one of us was in the wrong deal. Our perception of FatWire was that it was a niche product to create and manage “Brochure-ware” website. In fact, it was very rare that Stellent/Oracle ECM competed against FatWire.

FatWire Complements the Stellant/Oracle ECM Suite

During the meeting, we were presented with a very good overview of FatWire’s suite of products, and I was impressed. I began to understand why Oracle made an offer to them. The Enterprise Content Management suite from Stellent/Oracle (now called WebCenter Content) has always been focused on helping companies to gain control of unstructured content and truly manage the content’s lifecycle. It had a web content management portion of the suite that allowed organizations to create dynamic websites to share content with partners, customers and the World Wide Web in general. WCM was always focused around presenting and sharing very document-centric websites. It also provided an industrial strength approach to supporting portal-based applications with content.

FatWire, on the other hand, had always taken the approach of creating, managing and publishing business-user savvy websites focused on informing targeted audiences. It also included a content management application to support the websites it created and managed. Sales cycles for FatWire were more business-oriented where the Oracle ECM suite was more technology-driven. The FatWire product was specifically designed to allow organizations to create and manage intuitive websites for informing targeted audiences rather than just providing a framework for sharing documents to potential consumers.

In speaking with Oracle’s Product Management, Sales Management and technical resources since the official acquisition of FatWire and formal release of the WebCenter re-branding, it is clear that Oracle understands the strengths of WebCenter Content (Stellent/Oracle ECM) and WebCenter Sites (FatWire) and how they complement each other.

The overall vision is simple in nature and very logical; WebCenter Sites is the front door to an organization. It creates rich and robust informational websites without the heavy IT support overhead of some of its competitors. WebCenter Portal (formally WebCenter Suite) is the information infrastructure which allows organizations to create highly functional intranets and extranets where users can interact, communicate, transact and share information. WebCenter Content is the enterprise foundation of information that supports not only the WebCenter products, but Oracle Applications as well.

New Doors and Opportunities

Oracle’s excitement over the FatWire acquisition is well founded. In my own consulting activities, I look forward to introducing the WebCenter Sites technology to customers and helping them to establish it as an entry point to a robust infrastructure that supports all their business requirements. From creating informational sites that easily direct users to interactive and transactional portal sites, to sharing content inside and outside of the organization, Oracle WebCenter opens new doors for Oracle and unlocks growth and opportunity for Oracle’s customers.

Oracle’s WebCenter family of products represents a truly organized and integrated set of tools designed to support all of an organization’s information and communication requirements.

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