open text, vignette, reddotPersonally, I cannot wait for October to arrive. Open Text Content World will be in the lovely Orlando, and we all should expect to be enlightened on OTEX’s product map and strategy for its two web content management arms: Web Solutions (aka RedDot) and the recently acquired Vignette.

Commenting on my previous post on the Open Text WCM saga, Markus Giesen et al. -- representatives of an unofficial RedDot blog -- raised several worthwhile questions. Not with publicity in mind, but in an effort to get some real, transparent answers I reached out for comments to Open Text. Here’s what we learned.

Disappointingly, we did not succeed in squeezing a ton of clarity from Open Text’s Marci Maddox -- their Director Global Product Marketing for Web Solutions.

The official party line is that no product migrations, discontinuations and code mergers will happen for Vignette and RedDot. RedDot is not dead, and Vignette will continue to get R&D money. A “singular solution” -- whatever that means -- is still on the roadmap for the next 2 years.

The response from the community is still "Yeah, we've heard that before..." as many are thinking of Gauss and Obtree.

Questions That Remain

I took the liberty of asking Open Text the same “open list of questions” that was posted on the unofficial RedDot blog by community developers and consultants.

Leaving aside the already known information from previous press releases, interviews and webinars and the quoting our past coverage of the Web CMS dilemma in the Open Text land, this is an excerpt from their official statement:

“Over the last week or so, there have been a number of opinions expressed on social media channels and news sites about the future of WCM solutions at Open Text. Below are initial answers to many of the questions that have come up.

  • We are not merging the code for Web Solutions and Vignette Content Management. That would not make sense as many people have pointed out.
  • Don’t expect a hybrid. What we are talking about is taking capabilities and best practices from each (and maybe a few pieces of technology) to create a new offering. For example, the social media and recommendations technologies from Vignette could enhance the Web Solutions product in the relatively short term.
  • For customers who want to move from one solution to the other, there will probably be upgrade pricing but we haven’t gotten that far yet. We are also looking at tools and best practices to migrate content as well as opportunities for interoperability.
  • Statements about Open Text not continuing development of Web Solutions (RedDot) after 2010 are incorrect. We are in the process of planning further releases of the product and will share a 2011 timeline at Content World.
  • Both Web Solutions and Vignette Content Management have very flexible [content] delivery options. As an example, one of the largest banks in the world is using Vignette Content Management with .NET for delivery/presentation. There is no need to choose sides between .NET and Java.
  • Regarding comments on our recent earnings call about “migrating RedDot to the Vignette platform,” the intention is not to combine two products into one or to create an entirely new product from the ground up. Those are not viable options. Both products will continue to be developed.”

As it often happens, companies that choose not to respond to (sometimes constructive) criticism in social media and the blogosphere in a timely manner don’t gain much fandom. The Twittersphere is still buzzing with statements like this one: “Open Text confirms website management (form. #Reddot) to be supported until 2013+ on #rdug hamburg.” Shall we say we sense some uneasiness and discomfort in the air?

The Leftover Haze

Without more answers, the Vignette acquisition looks to be more of an impulse buy. And hey, most of us do impulsive things every now and then (more often than we’d like to admit), only to find ourselves stricken by a profound “Oh, my…” moment, then scrambling to put the puzzle back together again.

Granted, decisions of this magnitude are unlikely to have been made impulsively. They are also not easy to pin down in a relatively short period of time (look at the debate around the Adobe and Omniture deal).

However, reflecting on the recent communications strategy, opinions like “The botched messaging around RedDot speaks unbelievably poorly of OTEX leadership, IMHO” are nothing but expected.

In short, more transparency and less vagueness would be good for the Open Text corporate image and much welcomed by the WCM communities.