Gilbane takeaways: Social merging with WCM, open source on the rise and portals never left us

Such a busy three days at Gilbane Boston this year, I hardly had time to even follow the tweet stream from the event.  I was involved in four sessions and best I can do at this point is to recap a few of the key highlights from each.

The open source session I presented with Seth Gottlieb got some good response and was apt I think given the much larger presence of open source at the show overall this year.  Someone told me (but I didn’t confirm) that last year there were two open source booths on the show floor and this year there were six (dotCMS, Hippo, Nuxeo, Magnolia and Plone were the ones I counted – who am I missing?).  Alfresco and Acquia were notably absent I thought, though were both were represented on a couple of panels.

Open source also came up in the panel I moderated on portals, as we had Chris Stavros from LEVEL Studios there and Chris has done a lot of work with the Liferay portal.  We also had Glenn Mannke, Director of Intranet Development at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, talking with us about how they use Oracle Portal and how embedded this is in their overall infrastructure.  Russ Edelman lent his SharePoint perspective as did John Petersen from Sutro Software who has worked with the Vignette (now Open Text) portal for a number of years.  I’ll sum up the key takeaways from this panel as:

  • Portals never went away, even though the marketing died down.  They were victims of the hype earlier in the decade.  Glenn in particular emphasized how portals are only becoming more important in his organization as the number of tools and apps they manage proliferate.
  • John and Chris likened portals to a new Web OS that delivers application and infrastructure services.
  • We spent some time talking about what those services are exactly and the panelists agreed that identity management and SSO are crucial.
  • There was also some interesting discussion about client-side vs. server-side portals.  Is an app that can aggregate little windows on a screen a portal?  The panelists gave a resounding “no” to this question, given the lack of infrastructure services noted above.
  • And portal standards (e.g., JSR 286) weren’t noted as being particularly important.

I thought portals might also come up on the panel I hosted on social publishing.  This brought WCM vendors together with pure social software plays for a discussion about where these two market sectors are headed.  It was perhaps not quite as heated as I’d hoped, but there was a bit of controversy.  David Carter, CTO from Awareness and Adam Mertz, Product Marketer at Jive, admitted that their systems don’t do WCM and that many customers still need that function (I think particularly for external sites), but that social is important enough to warrant its own layer in the stack.  They argued that WCM systems aren’t architected to support the dynamic nature of social media.  Lars Trieloff from Day Software and Dmitri Tcherevik of FatWire definitely didn’t agreeBryan House of Acquia (Drupal) argued that open source does the best job blending the two.

In general though, I think the panelists agreed that social is becoming part of so many other things (there was some discussion of CRM + social as well).  That still leaves me scratching my head as to the future of the pure social software vendors (I asked if Jive might also get into WCM, but, not surprisingly, didn’t get a direct answer).

SharePoint came up in all of these sessions, as it also did on the analyst panel, not surprisingly as SharePoint has an impact in social, portals, WCM and just about every other aspect of ECM.  Microsoft had a big presence at Gilbane this year, a little surprising to me since Gilbane is generally a pretty WCM-focused show. I had the chance to sit down for about an hour with Ryan Duguid, a Microsoft product manager for ECM in the SharePoint group.  He insisted SharePoint plays in .com-type WCM scenarios and pointed me to this list, which I have seen before.  It’s just doesn’t seem to come up much though in talking with clients and vendors about WCM.  And I don’t see too much in the 2010 release that looks to change that.  Am I missing something?

Overall, a good lively show.  I heard attendance was up and the exhibit hall was full of vendors – there never seems to be a lull in the influx of new vendors to this space.  Lots of interesting conversations about social, open source and online marketing, which all bodes well for a continued vibrant market in 2010.

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#1 Doug Wotherspoon on 12.07.09 at 12:21 pm


Is it possible to get a copy of your and Seth’s Gilbane presentation? Fascinating topic.


#2 Kathleen Reidy on 12.09.09 at 8:56 am

Sorry, I should have posted the link to the presos in the post. Here it is:

Seth has also made some comments and posted his slides here: