Oracle revamps content management suite

Scalability and performance improvements mark the 11g release

Oracle on Tuesday is unveiling Enterprise Content Management Suite 11g, a pillar of its sprawling middleware stack and competitor to products from IBM, EMC, Open Text and other vendors.

Oracle's content management strategy caters to customers who desire a rationalized back end, as well as a variety of applications aimed at different user groups, said Andy MacMillan, vice president of product management.

"Marketing needs Web content management, legal needs records management. ... We provide that unified infrastructure," he said. ECM Suite 11g comes pre-integrated with other Oracle middleware components, such as Enterprise Manager and Identity Management.

Updated components include Universal Content Management and Universal Records Management. The suite also includes modules for imaging and process management, as well as information rights management. Both were announced earlier this year.

The 11g release lets companies more easily add fresh content to corporate Web sites, through a set of servlets and tag libraries for JavaServer Pages, JavaServer Faces and ADF applications. The capability essentially layers Web content management on top of those pages, saving time for developers, MacMillan said.

Oracle may add similar out-of-the-box features for Microsoft .NET, but MacMillan couldn't say when. "Our goal was to get the first version out," he said.

On the records management side, Oracle has provided a freshened-up user interface and better reporting capabilities; boosted users' ability to access content around a company; and added support for third-party archiving.

The release also features tighter integration with Windows Explorer and Office. Oracle is starting to build richer integrations between ECM Suite and Open Office, which the company gained via the Sun Microsystems acquisition, but decent interoperability exists today, according to MacMillan.

Oracle has been focusing on ECM Suite 11g's scalability and performance as well. A single-node setup of Universal Content Management on commodity hardware was able to take in roughly 11 million 200KB documents in a day, according to an Oracle white paper.

The company also tested UCM on various configurations of its Sun Oracle Database Machine for high-volume processing. A quarter-rack setup managed to swallow up roughly 91 million 100KB files in a day, while a half-rack took in about 179 million, according to the white paper.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has indicated the company plans to release a range of Exadata-like offerings for its software products, but MacMillan declined to say whether one is in the works for ECM 11g.

Oracle ECM Suite costs $US172,500 per processor license, according to a May 13 price list. It wasn't immediately clear whether the new version would be priced at the same level.

That sort of pricing is par for the course in the high-end content management arena Oracle plays in, said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, principal with The Real Story Group. That market is far from crowded, and for good reason, since it is very difficult to engineer systems that require massive scale, he said. "The throughput can be just mind-boggling."

Oracle's claimed performance improvements represent solid scores, albeit with a caveat, according to Pelz-Sharpe. "It gets them into the same market as IBM and EMC," he said.

"That was the problem with Stellent," a content management vendor Oracle acquired in 2006, he added. Stellent's technology lies at the heart of ECM Suite. "They got rich functionality and a very good team, but they needed to take that base Stellent product and make it truly scalable."

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