Friday Mar 09, 2012

Stuck in Your SharePoint Shell?: Break Free with Oracle WebCenter Webcast Q&A

Thank you for joining us on the webcast yesterday. We had some great questions that were asked, which we've captured below. Be sure to catch the replay  if you missed it!

What are the versions of both products that were evaluated?
Microsoft - Primarily SharePoint 2010, though some customers had a dual environment where they were working off SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. On the Oracle side it was Oracle WebCenter 11g.

Is your content server compatible with Oracle Linux?
Yes. As well as other common platforms. (Windows, Solaris, RedHat)

Can you provide the various links mentioned in the follow-up email, or perhaps a copy of the presentation?
The follow up email to this Webcast will have a copy of the InfoTrends White Paper. You can also download the white paper here and ask any questions on our WebCenter Blog in the comments section.

Is there a separate session to learn about functionality?
Check out the WebCenter Resources page (http://www.oracle.com/us/products/middleware/webcenter/resources/index.html) for additional white papers and webcasts that talk about WebCenter. For even more technical information, visit Oracle WebCenter on the Oracle Technology Network (http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/webcenter/suite/overview/index.html).

Are all these adapters Oracle’s?
Adapters for WebCenter Content to the Oracle applications are indeed Oracle products. For other adapters (like SharePoint), they are often partner provided.

Is this WebCenter 11g?
Yes. The current release is 11.1.1.6 for WebCenter Portal and WebCenter Content.

Can we get an evaluation copy of WebCenter?
All Oracle tech products are available on otn.oracle.com for download -- for evaluation purposes. See the WebCenter page for more information.

Are the costs already included in the WebCenter license cost?
Not necessarily... There’s a pricelist posted on Oracle.com which is the official word, but if we remember correctly, the content adapters are licensed separately.

What integration options exist with Oracle WebCenter?
WebCenter includes many different integration technologies /options. Everything from multiple standard protocols like WebDAV to deep Web service integration as well as Portal tools like JSR 168/286 and BPM/BPEL for workflow based integration.

Does WebCenter offer something akin to MITS for dealing with DICOM images? Or would that require a 3rd party plugin?
Oracle plans to provide support for DICOM images directly in the WebCenter Content server. This is planned for the next minor release (11.1.1.7). To get a feel for this support, we've provided sample code and software that will work with any version of WebCenter Content after 11.1.1.4 (aka PS3). The download is here http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/webcenter/content/index-092832.html. We plan to provide this as native support so we expect no additional charges, however, the plans are not finalized yet.

How is WebCenter integrated with Microsoft Office?
Oracle WebCenter supports Microsoft Office in several ways. From WebCenter Content and WebCenter Portal, edit in place is supported  -- this means opening, editing and saving an Office document from the browser without having to make a local copy. Opening the document also locks it from changes on the server. Office documents (and another 200 or so formats) are automatically rendered for the document preview capabilities in both WebCenter Content and WebCenter Portal. Desktop Integration Services (DIS) is tool that is loaded on the desktop and connects to WebCenter Content providing synchronization and access to documents stored on the server. More details about DIS are available here.

Are users using Google like search able to find data in WebCenter without costly add-ons?
WebCenter is integrated out of the box with Oracle Enterprise Search, which supports federated search. OES can be integrated with Google Search.

Do you have any documentation regarding SharePoint to WebCenter migration plans or best practices?
Migration is a rich subject and often more about business process than just moving content from point to point. Because WebCenter supports so many different interaction models with users, moving to an Enterprise content and portal solution gives you an opportunity to revisit the use cases and see where additional optimizations can be done. That said, there will be content to move from the source system to the new environment.  For the period of time those systems overlap, a connector is often a good way to build out the new system without disabling the existing system and interrupting the work process. Fishbowl has an Oracle Validated Integration between WebCenter Content and SharePoint which allows the SharePoint content to be moved over to WebCenter Content, but does not effect the use of SharePoint when accessing that content.   When it is time to move content into WebCenter Content, then Kapow Software has an Oracle Validated Integration that allows content and much if not all of the metada to be migrated over to the new system. Since there may be some changes to the business process, some transformations can be done at this point as well. See Fishbowl Solutions press release for details on the SharePoint connector and the Kapow Migration paper for more details. 

Are you planning to put the WebCenter in the Oracle Cloud?
Oracle announced its Cloud strategy at Oracle Open World 2011. More on this can be found here. Oracle Social Network, which is part of Oracle WebCenter is going to part of the initial roll out. We also have plans to put other components of WebCenter on the Oracle Cloud.

Do you need to use JDeveloepr for WebCenter development or can you use Eclipse?
You can use Eclipse as well. Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse (OEPE) allow development to be done through Eclipse as well. More details on what is supported in OEPE are available here.

How is WebCenter different from WebLogic Portal?
Oracle WebCenter brings together the best of portal technologies from the leading portal products into a single product suite.

How do I download the slides?
The webcast is being recorded and is available on demand. You can access the slides used on today’s webcast here.

Can we have a copy of that whitepaper?
All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the white paper in the thank you email following the webcast. You can also download a copy here.

Where can you find a whitepaper in general to understand WebCenter?
You can find more details about WebCenter in this brochure or overview.

Wednesday Mar 07, 2012

SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership: Expect the Unexpected

Microsoft SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter are two popular platforms for collaboration, content management, composite applications, and portals for companies of all sizes. For those fully-committed to Microsoft’s server and desktop infrastructure, using SharePoint 2010 for basic collaboration and document sharing workloads can be a modest incremental investment—particularly if the focus is on implementing “out of the box” capabilities of SharePoint. But what about for companies deploying more advanced user engagement capabilities, specifically where integration with enterprise applications was required?

Leading market research firm InfoTrends researched this scenario through customer interviews and found that the long term SharePoint costs grow from incremental to potentially prohibitive based on higher than expected costs for third-party add-on software, migrations from previous versions of SharePoint, development and integration, as well as ongoing management and administration.

“We knew SharePoint integration was going to be expensive, but we far under-estimated what it would cost because ‘we didn’t know what we didn’t know’ going into it. Also, we are finding a growing need to tie in a number of different enterprise applications to achieve the business processes we want for us and our partners," says the CIO of a US defense contractor.

In fact, research shows that over three years, the cost of SharePoint 2010 licensing is just over 5% of the total cost with the remaining 95% represented by the aforementioned categories.

In contrast, Oracle WebCenter provides a more comprehensive and cost-effective solution to enable users to engage and collaborate on content and enterprise application data within business processes and activities.

“We’ve chosen WebCenter for our external facing deployments because it provides so much more in terms of capability than SharePoint. We have a substantial internal deployment of SharePoint 2007 for basic collaboration and document sharing…and even if were able to upgrade to 2010 for free, it still didn’t make sense for our customer and partner facing portals,” says an IT manager at a leading security software provider.

InfoTrends research shows that Oracle WebCentercan provide a lower and more predictable overall cost profile over time compared to SharePoint 2010 because it offers:

  • More advanced native capabilities
  • Fewer software prerequisites
  • Pre-built enterprise connectivity
  • Less human-intensive administration

Want more details on what InfoTrends discovered and what customers are saying? Download and read the SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership: Expect the Unexpected white paper today, and discover how Oracle WebCentercan significantly lower TCO for user engagement solutions.


Monday Mar 05, 2012

Of SharePoint and the Swiss Army Knife: Six Observations


By Christian Finn (@cfinn)

This week is a little unusual: it is SharePoint week here on the WebCenter blog. Traditional marketing theory says you never give your competition exposure; we, however, live in the real world, and love it or hate it, many of you have to use, run, or customize SharePoint as part of your jobs. So, I thought I’d kick the week off by discussing the use of an actual Swiss Army knife and comparing that too how organizations use SharePoint and see what can be learned. Later this week, Howard Beader and Trevor Niblock will show you how and why to break out of the SharePoint Shell. And we have some fun SharePoint  Shell videos and more to share this week as well.


Microsoft SharePoint has long been called, by many, the “IT Swiss Army knife.” Swiss Army knives, of course, are those pocket knives that feature little tools—such as screwdrivers, scissors, can openers, corkscrews, etc., in addition to blades. SO I figured I would compare the two and see what insights came to mind. After all, I come into this comparison with strong credentials: on the one hand, I spent over twelve years at Microsoft, several of them product managing or selling SharePoint, and almost all of them using it; and on the other, last spring I bought my ten year old son a Swiss Army knife and observed him with it on a long multi-day camping trip. So I know whereof I speak!


1. My first observation is that, if a Swiss Army knife is the only tool you have, it can be pretty darn useful. The same is true of SharePoint, and this has been one of the factors in SharePoint’s growth. Compared to a file share, SharePoint has some real value.

2. My second observation is that one would rarely prefer to use a Swiss Army knife when a better tool of the same type is at hand. For example, if you are standing in a stream fishing and need to cut some line, it is very handy. But if you needed to cut some wrapping paper for a gift, while you could use your Swiss Army knife, you’d really rather have full size scissors. The same is also true of SharePoint: I can try to manage all my enterprise content with it, or use it to build my website, but it isn’t really the full size, best of breed tool for those jobs.

3. My third observation is that there are times when the Swiss Army knife just doesn’t work for the problem at hand. For example, when my son’s group needed to anchor the tent on hard ground with stakes, feet or rocks work when the knife’s tools just don’t. And yes, the same is true for SharePoint. You can build a website with it, but you can’t use it to manage your web marketing campaign. If you want to use social tools in your organization, you’ll find that SharePoint’s inherently document-centric design—and its lack of support for a true activity stream—will have you purchasing third party tools for the job.

4. Fourth, some of the tools on a Swiss Army knife you’d prefer not to have in some users’ hands. For example, my son has no need for a corkscrew as a fifth grader. And if he did come across a bottle of wine, I’d rather he didn’t have a way to open it. Likewise, the bundle that is SharePoint includes lots of tools and features which one might rather some users didn’t have at their disposal. Lists, for example, will allow sales people to manage contacts and sales opportunities in SharePoint; but it would be better for everyone if they used a proper CRM package instead.

5. Fifth, both Swiss Army knives and SharePoint require governance—and plenty of it. My son cut himself twice with his knife, despite training, precautions, and supervision. If your organization uses SharePoint—how often have you encountered the equivalent—such as not being able to find a file you know is stored in there; or having to wade through hundreds or thousands of no longer used team sites to find the right one?

6. My sixth and final observation is one where Swiss Army knives and SharePoint diverge. Owning a Swiss Army knife doesn’t discourage you from owning other, proper tools. It’s great for camping trips and outings where you don’t want to carry a lot and aren’t sure what situations you may encounter. But a Swiss Army knife doesn’t replace a real set of tools for daily use, and no one would ever think it could.

SharePoint, however, sometimes does have exactly this effect on IT departments. Adopting SharePoint as a platform, rather than as a tool, tends to cause IT to view SharePoint as the first, and often only, allowed solution to a problem. Because SharePoint is a Swiss Army knife, and not a complete toolbox, this often ends badly.

And it isn’t that outright failure is always (or even often) the result; it is minimal success. People end up using sub-optimal solutions because they appear easy to implement at first; and IT departments find themselves continually investing to increase the degree of success by adding features and capabilities through custom development and third party tools. All of that adds to the cost equation for SharePoint, and sometimes can lead to a backlash: no customization is allowed, because it may interfere with upgrades.

And at that point, you are locked in to using only the SharePoint Swiss Army knife to solve your problems. When that happens, I hope you’re fishing—and calling your WebCenter rep.

Monday Feb 27, 2012

Webcast: Stuck in Your SharePoint Shell? Break Free with Oracle WebCenter

Imagine if your employees could easily share information across your enterprise. Imagine if they could also automatically deliver targeted information to potential customers—and connect them with the right partners. That’s the kind of enterprise collaboration and efficiency you can expect with Oracle WebCenter—but not Microsoft SharePoint. So is it any wonder why more and more businesses are making the switch to Oracle? 

Join us for this Webcast as we share results from surveys of customers to see how Oracle WebCenter:
  • Seamlessly integrates collaboration with business processes and activities 
  • Provides the only comprehensive user engagement platform today 
  • Delivers a superior level of enterprise collaboration and efficiency 

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012 
Time: 10:00 AM PST 

Speakers:

  • Howard Beader, Sr. Director of Product Marketing , Oracle WebCenter
  • Trevor Niblock , Director, WebCenter Sales Support, Oracle

Monday Feb 06, 2012

Does Your Organization Have the Right Tools to Collaborate?

We’ve reached a new era of collaboration and communication. We now live in a world where we are surrounded by social tools -- from checking into a flight at the airport from a smartphone, to buying groceries online and having them delivered to your door, to renting a movie and watching it directly from your plasma TV. We also live in a world where grandma’s have Facebook, teens are using Twitter, and children know how to use iPhones better than their parents. That’s some pretty interesting (and scary?) stuff right there.

Not only are these social tools available in our personal lives, but we see (and demand) those same experiences in our work lives. Imagine if you could easily share information with the right people in various departments and roles across the company. And what if you could also automatically deliver targeted information to potential customers—and connect them with the right partners? Does your organization have the proper tools in place to allow employees, partners and customers to efficiently communicate and collaborate? We’d love to get your feedback on user experience, adoption and attitudes regarding user engagement & collaboration solutions! And be sure to check out this video series to learn how when having the proper user engagement platform in place, you can allow your employees, partners and customers to collaborate efficiently. 

Monday Oct 03, 2011

How to Collaborate with People in Other Departments: SharePoint or WebCenter?

Do you need to work with people in other departments in your company? Can you find the right people to get your job done effectively? Do you have the right tools to collaborate efficiently in the context of the business process you are working on? And what product are you using to try and do this? SharePoint or WebCenter?

The folks at Eclipse Solar are struggling with exactly this. If you missed the first episode of our new video series - Eclipse Solar: Adventures in Information Sharing - be sure to check it out. But in the mean time, the story unfolds with Episode 2: Light of Day. Mark needs to begin phase two of tests on the new solar design panel and locate the right people to bring it to market. Jill needs a performance boost to lock in key partnerships. They need to work together, but will they find each other in time?

Wondering what happens next? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the news about when the next episode is available!

Learn more at http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

Friday Sep 30, 2011

Engaging Customers Online with WebCenter

The face of your company on the web is your website. So how do you engage with them? Is the content fresh? Is the content engaging? Is the content relevant to the customer? Is there a way to deliver a targeted and interactive experience as opposed to showing everyone the same static website?

To helpMichael Snow us answer this, we interviewed industry veteran, Loren Weinberg, VP Product Management for Oracle WebCenter. Loren was a pioneer in the web experience management (WEM) space as a part of FatWire, a company that was an early leader in defining the evolution of the market from web content management to web experience management.

Michael: Loren, it’s so interesting this week during our discussions of SharePoint that Web Experience Management isn’t something that SharePoint really does very well at all. Is that why we never really run into them with customers that are looking for complete WEM solutions? Loren Weinberg

Loren:  – Yes, Michael, you are right. Web Experience Management is really all about customer engagement online – creating an interactive, relevant and rich online experience (across web, mobile and social channels), and using the web to achieve marketing and customer loyalty goals. SharePoint in its essence is focused on the problem of document management and collaboration – internal productivity is the goal, not customer experience. In order to really provide a comprehensive Web Experience Management solution, you need to have some essential functionality that SharePoint doesn’t offer, as well as an orientation around marketing and customer experience.

Michael:  Let’s dig into this a little more. Aren’t we just talking about basic WCM functionality?

Loren: – No, this goes well beyond WCM –WCM functionality is the foundation. And it is an important foundation for reasons of scale and flexibility of the system. However, WEM is much more than that. On top of the WCM foundation, WEM includes technologies for targeting, optimization, user-generated content, end-user personalization, mobile web, and much more. In today’s socially enabled, multichannel online world, individuals increasingly expect their online experiences to be rich, engaging, and tailored specifically to their interests. It comes down to getting to know your customers and delivering the most appropriate content and offers for their needs and interests across all of the different channels of interaction.

Michael: So – are you just talking about personalizing your experience? When I login to a corporate SharePoint site, it has the content that I selected and the layout I wanted. Is there more than that?

Loren: – It is much more than that. Keep in mind that we’re talking about externally facing websites that marketers are using to grow their business and brand loyalty. Oracle WebCenter Web Experience Management platform has a powerful rules engine with an intuitive interface that enables marketers to define customer segments and create rules for what content will be targeted and delivered to each customer segment online. This solution empowers a marketer - a non-technical user - to manage both segmentation and content recommendations. When visitors come to the Website, they are automatically placed in a customer segment based on known or profile-based information about them, their behavior on the site, or a combination of the two. Then the appropriate content is delivered to them in real time. And we offer built-in analytics for optimization of the site experience as well, so marketers can continually tweak the website to maximize its effectiveness.

But creating a highly engaging web experience requires even more. We also offer user-generated content with enterprise moderation for creating an interactive online experience, plus integration with third party social networking sites. We also offer end-user personalization and site customization using gadgets. And finally a mobility solution that makes it easy for business users to manage the traditional website along with the mobile website from a single interface with visual tools and previews, for seamless management of the online channel.

Michael:  Wow – no wonder we never see SharePoint. Tell me more about personalization from the user’s perspective? I know that SharePoint allows users to personalize their user preferences. How does our WEM solution deal with that?

Loren: – Well, we go beyond that as well with our gadget functionality. Oracle WebCenter gadgets provide website visitors with the ability to customize their own online experience. We enable organizations to create customizable dashboards made up of gadgets – which are basically small applications that can then be personalized by site visitors. These can consist of lists of articles, image slideshows, calculators or analyzers of data, blog entries, videos, or any other content type. When visitors come to the site, they can select which gadgets they would like to see on the site and customize the settings of the gadgets to meet their informational needs and interests. This enables organizations to offer a “MySite” page, where visitors have their own area that they can personalize. Visitor preferences are saved, and their selected preferences remain each time they return. The organizations own gadgets and any third-party gadgets supporting the OpenSocial/Google Gadget standards can be added to the list of available gadgets by Web content managers. By allowing site visitors to create their own customized gadget dashboards, organizations can provide a personalized and highly interactive Web experience that engages users on a one-to-one level and keeps visitors coming back.

Michael:  What about the social networks aspect of doing business today? You mentioned social capabilities – what exactly does your WEM solution offer here?

Loren: – Yes, Oracle WebCenter also provides multiple kinds of social computing enablement. First of all, we offer user-generated content tools with enterprise tools for moderation and management. It makes it easy for companies to add social features—such as comments, ratings, reviews, and corporate blogs—throughout their existing Web presence and manage them as a seamless part of their Web platform. By offering site visitors the opportunity to share ideas and feedback with one another, companies forge a stronger bond with customers—a bond that drives loyalty, sales, and business growth.

And IT doesn’t need to get involved with the daily management of social content. Business users can review and moderate comments through the same interface used for managing Website content, making user generated content management a seamless part of managing the Web experience. The functionality is natively integrated with the rest of the Web experience management capabilities so that WCM tasks are streamlined across internally generated and user­generated content.

We also enable seamless integration with third-party social networking sites. Site visitors can be automatically authenticated on an organization’s Website based on their credentials from social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. They can see content on the site recommended by friends in their networks, and they can automatically disseminate content from the site that is interesting to them to their friends on social networking sites. Thus site visitors’ existing social identity is recognized immediately when they come to the site, and the onsite experience is seamlessly integrated with the rest of their online interactions and networks, driving relevance, engagement, and ultimately customer loyalty.

Michael:  We’ve talked about the important functionality like targeting and segmentation, personalization and gadgets, and social computing integrations, but aren’t our users all over the world accessing sites from laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other channels?

Loren: Absolutely! Being able to interact in a multi-channel world is essential for any successful WEM solution. You have to be able to meet your customer via their preferred channel of interaction. We offer a streamlined way to manage the mobile web as an integral part of a customer’s online experience. Oracle WebCenter Mobility Server makes it easy to centrally manage mobile sites directly from the Oracle WebCenter interface. Users can edit content using rich text editor tools and then preview that content directly in the context of the mobile Website and the traditional Website —all from the same business user interface. Mobile preview is offered by device family, so business users can navigate the site, in preview mode and manage the site for each major device family – be it touch, smart-phone, tablet, or basic phone. And fine-grained optimization is done at run-time for the thousands of device types in each family. That’s a huge time-saver for marketers. You can even make use of device GPS data to deliver location­-based content and services. Organizations can provide mobile site visitors with location­-sensitive search results, offers, and recommendations as well as integration of maps or directions into site content, and much more.

Michael:  Thanks Loren – that’s a lot of information – is there a presentation that people could watch to hear more about WEM?

Loren: Yes – they could come to Oracle Open World next week in San Francisco, where we have multiple sessions on WebCenter and Web Experience Management. We also did a webcast that highlights the integration strategy of FatWire and Oracle technologies coming together as Oracle WebCenter that has a lot more detail about our approach. People can view the webcast here. There’s also a lot more information at this site: http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

Thursday Sep 29, 2011

Business User Friendly Composite Applications: SharePoint or WebCenter?

I’m sure you’ve heard it before … business users complaining they have to log into 5 different applications to figure out the complete status of a particular work item. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get all the related information you needed from the different application systems all in one screen? Log in once – see it all – get your work done faster! That is the promise of composite applications.

So have you tried building composite applications using SharePoint or WebCenter? If so, have you asked IT how long it is taking them to build these composite applications along with the requisite backend integrations? And after that is done, have you asked your business users if it meets their needs? Oh, and what if they need to change something or modify it? Do they really have to go back to IT to request for a change? Or can they personalize it themselves?

To help us get to the bottom of this, we asked Vince Casarez, Sr. Vice President of Technology at Keste, for some insight on building composite applications. With over 22 years of experience helping customers deploy user engagement solutions, Vince has helped hundreds of customers improve productivity, optimize business processes and drive innovation. Read on to hear his recommendations and strategies.

Q1 – What do you think are the main challenges when trying to build composite applications with SharePoint?
A1 – If you’re looking for a composite that contains ribbon bars and a Microsoft look and feel, then the barrier drops a bit.  But application integration is not a strong point for SharePoint.  And if you have large content management needs, then you’ll constantly run into one roadblock after another.  The expectation from all of the customers that I’ve worked with is that the composite application has to fit in with their company branding guidelines, be extremely easy to use, and integrate the core disparate applications that they have in their environment.  As a result, they demand strict adherence to the latest standards so that they don’t have any vendor lock-in.  And finally, they want the solution to be as adaptable as possible.  They don’t want the composite to result in one more system that IT has to manage.  They expect to be able to “customize” the composite in a way that allows them to keep improving the overall system.  Where I’ve seen SharePoint fall down is on standards.  In fact, if the apps aren’t .Net based, I wouldn’t even consider using SharePoint.  Second, application integration is really only for non-enterprise applications.  If you have Siebel, JD Edwards, SAP, E-Business Suite, or PeopleSoft, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.  And finally, customization of the SharePoint look and feel or the user experience is just not there.

Q2 – On the same note, why in your experience has Oracle WebCenter been a preferred platform to build Composite Applications?
A2 – We’ve seen WebCenter since its inception and from the very start, WebCenter had application integration or composites as a key design point. There is tight integration with Oracle’s SOA Suite and Identity Management Suite for secure interactions capable of delivering a role based experience to the users.  And they’ve spent time to ensure that all the capabilities are applicable to SAP as well.  At Keste, we have customers that have integrated WebCenter and SAP directly.  We also have customers that are using WebCenter to front-end SalesForce.com applications with Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite.  We would never attempt to do any of these with SharePoint.  Also, we’ve found that integrating into our customer’s brand identity is easily done with WebCenter.  And finally, some of the new capabilities make it very easy for users to tailor their experience to get exactly what they want.  The customization capabilities are quite extensive and very easy to understand and use.

Q3 – When it comes specifically to Oracle Applications, why do your customers overwhelmingly choose Oracle WebCenter over SharePoint to build composite applications?
A3 – I touched on this a little bit above.  Our customers have very diverse environments.  They don’t just have Oracle Applications, but if they do, they always engage us to leverage Oracle WebCenter over SharePoint.  The reasons are focused on the core of the integration requirements.  They have many applications built in many different technologies requiring a standards based approach to pull everything together.  They have a myriad of content systems that they are looking to aggregate into a common repository that can live underneath their applications, as well as be the foundation for their document collaboration, as well as be published out to their different web site properties.  While SharePoint attempts to deliver on a portion of these capabilities, it just doesn’t deliver on the breadth that’s required.  And then if you roll in security integration, customization, and business process management and business intelligence, there is no other choice for our customers that can grow with them.

Q4 – Which platform provides a more robust enterprise class platform, both from a scalability and management perspective?
A4 – We do have customers with large SharePoint installations, but we often get requests for a WebCenter Portal deployment to deliver a more scalable solution to their entire employee or partner population.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many SharePoint departmental portals that our customers are using and aren’t ready to replace.  But they do see and demand WebCenter Portal as their scalable solution for composite applications, enterprise wide team-based collaboration, and the foundation for delivering their enterprise dashboards.  We’ve also seen in our new Keste Center of Excellence, WebCenter Portal runs nearly 5-times faster on Exalogic and Exadata than on traditional hardware.  As Oracle continues to improve this platform, we expect even more performance improvements.  So the combination of Oracle WebCenter and Oracle Exalogic & Exadata, there is no comparison as to the right scalable, enterprise platforms for customers to choose.  It’s Oracle, hands down.

Q5 – Can you talk about some of the Composite Application deployments that your customers are using with Oracle WebCenter?
A5 – Yes, we have customers in the high tech, pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial manufacturing all using a WebCenter Portal solution as the composite face of their application.  Qualcomm delivers communication devices to the transportation industry to help manage the goods that are being shipped and monitor the shipments along the way.  They often sell these devices to direct customers as well as smaller trucking companies.  We’ve built a WebCenter Portal that provides an easy way for customers to purchase these devices online and purchase applications that are add-ons to these systems.  All of the information is being driven from Oracle E-Business Suite and has extended systems that need to be integrated as well.  It allows customers to reallocate the device to another customer when they sell the truck or the device.  So the system is used to help manage the full lifecycle of the products that Qualcomm sells to their customers.  The second customer that I’ll discuss is a fortune 100 company that provides an integrated solution that enables storage, delivery, and management of network information.  The WebCenter Portal we’ve delivered integrates with Salesforce.com, E-Business Suite, and Siebel to provide a sales quoting solution to all their employees and partners to accelerate their business initiatives in the coming decades.  The system involves configuring products and pricing out of E-Business Suite, then orchestrating the information into reviewable WebCenter Portal composites.  The sales rep is able to quickly select the products and assemblies needed and submit the quote for pricing approval.  Once approved, the sales rep is then able to print the quote using Oracle BI Publisher or send it directly to the customer.  In summary, the composites our customers are demanding are not simple one or two page screens, they are critical interfaces to drive their business forward that demand a complete user experience platform to deliver.

Thanks Vince for sharing your recommendations and strategies around composite applications. For more information about Oracle WebCenter, visit http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint 

Wednesday Sep 28, 2011

Enterprise Content Management: SharePoint vs. WebCenter

You’ve heard of SharePoint, and you may have tried to use it to share content. But if you’re looking to deploy a comprehensive enterprise content management strategy for your entire company – especially if you have many organizations spread across the globe – is SharePoint really the right answer?

Today, we’re interviewing Jason Lamon, Senior Marketing Associate at Fishbowl Solutions. With over 11 years of experience in the content management industry, Jason has helped hundreds of customers develop their content management strategy, many of which have had to rationalize their use of SharePoint. Read on to hear his insight and enterprise content management strategies.

Q: What are the top five thing people should look for in an enterprise content management system?

A: Most enterprise content management systems include standard, out-of-the-box features such as check-in and check-out, versioning, and workflow. However, if you peel back the functionality layers a little further you will find that comprehensive enterprise content management capabilities are harder to come by. These capabilities include records management, digital asset management (conversions and renditions), and document imaging (document capture, forms recognition, etc.). The top 5 things organizations should consider when evaluating an enterprise content management system are:

  • Governance – manage and control access to business critical information from a central content repository
  • Scalability – easily scale (without much administration) to the growing content demands faced by organizations
  • Comprehensive – supports all content use cases (document capture and imaging, renditions and conversions, records management, etc.)
  • Integrated – provide in-context content management capabilities within other enterprise systems (enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management – for example)
  • Admin Champion – This may seem obvious, but this has been a major issue with SharePoint deployments – no oversight or accountability. Before deploying an ECM system, organizations need to identify the key person or persons that will be responsible for sustaining and expanding the system taking into consideration file naming conventions, metadata, and security.

Q: When working with customers on deploying enterprise content management solutions, do they have existing solutions or are they looking for a new enterprise content management system?

A: Every customer we work with is storing content somewhere – there’s content in applications, file systems, work groups, SharePoint, Documentum, WebCenter, etc. However, most of these solutions lead to silos of content within the enterprise. Oracle WebCenter is unique because it provides a single scalable enterprise repository that enables de-duplication and searching across all content. Unless you have a platform like WebCenter, content cannot be shared effectively across the organization while staying in synch. On the flip side, we see a lot of customers struggling with SharePoint. It’s something the organization has access to, and they store content in it. It develops into silos of content, is not integrated with enterprise applications out of the box, and the silos often go dormant, leaving incorrect information throughout the enterprise.

Q: So, what’s on the mind of the IT team at companies today that have deployed SharePoint?

A: Most organizations that are using SharePoint for document management did not make the strategic decision to do so. Instead, SharePoint was typically part of their licensing, and since they had it and paid for it, they started using it. So from an IT perspective, they didn’t have much control or planning around how it would be used and by which groups of people. This fact alone has led to SharePoint being used across organizations with sites popping up everywhere while governance is almost non-existent. So, IT teams are really struggling with balancing users’ needs for workgroup collaboration, with the IT problem of having silos of content everywhere. As a result, IT teams need to put in place a content management strategy that utilizes and maintains one repository for all enterprise content.

Q: How do you recommend companies move towards one repository for all enterprise content?

A: Well, for starters, you need to invest in an ECM system that gets rid of silos. Oracle WebCenter is a great example of this as it provides the ability to search not only all the content in WebCenter, it can enable searching of other systems as well.

Q: So if a customer already has SharePoint, how can people align their SharePoint implementations with a comprehensive ECM solution like Oracle WebCenter?

A: Industry statistics suggest that around 70% of organizations have more than one ECM system, and 50% have more than three. The objective should be to synchronize all content into one ECM system that can then integrate with all the places that people need content (including business processes and enterprise applications). This ensures the content is not duplicated and that it is available where it is needed. To simplify the integration of SharePoint content into Oracle WebCenter, Fishbowl Solutions offers a SharePoint Connector. It integrates Microsoft SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter so that any content that is added, edited or saved to a new or existing SharePoint site is automatically stored in Oracle WebCenter instead of disparate Microsoft SQL Servers. WebCenter has the scalability to handle the content, while providing strong governance from an easily discoverable repository. If the content needs to be integrated to backend applications, this is easily achieved with the many out-of-the-box connectors provided by Oracle WebCenter. Users continue to use SharePoint for work-in-progress collaboration, while increasing enterprise content control, governance, and scalability through Oracle WebCenter.

Q: How are people using the Fishbowl Solutions SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content and what have the results been?

A: Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content is highly configurable. Organizations can configure it per SharePoint document library and select documents to be stored in Oracle WebCenter Content by library, folder location, file size or extension. These configuration options make it easy for organizations to deploy the connector yet make it transparent to the end user. Thus far, deploying organizations have used the connector to bridge project management, digital assets for websites, and even engineering drawings from SharePoint to Oracle WebCenter Content.

By integrating SharePoint content into Oracle WebCenter, our customers now have a comprehensive and scalable enterprise wide content management system where governance can be enforced. Additionally, they’ve rationalized the content silos they previously had, and now have the added benefit of being able to easily integrate the content users are collaborating on back into their backend applications.

Q: It sounds like the Fishbowl Solutions’ SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content is an efficient way for SharePoint users to integrate with Oracle WebCenter and start taking advantage of the many benefits this user engagement platform has to offer. How can people find out more about your connector?

A: Yes, our connector is a great way to integrate SharePoint content with WebCenter. In fact, Fishbowl Solutions’ SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content has achieved Oracle Validated Integration. For more information please visit the Fishbowl Solutions Website. You can also visit us next week at Oracle OpenWorld in booth #1943 Moscone South.

Thanks Jason. For more information about Oracle WebCenter, visit http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

Stuck in Your SharePoint Shell?

Are you using SharePoint? Still trying to figure out how to integrate the content in SharePoint seamlessly to your enterprise applications and business processes?

Now imagine if you could easily share information with the right people in various departments and roles across the company. And what if you could also automatically deliver targeted information to potential customers—and connect them with the right partners? It's a level of enterprise collaboration and efficiency that Microsoft SharePoint can't deliver. But Oracle WebCenter provides all this and more.

Watch Episode 1, “A Ray of Hope”, of this video series to see how a solar company enables employees to make the right connections across the company to get a product redesign into production quickly using Oracle WebCenter.


Curious as to what happens next? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the news about when the next episode is available!

Learn more at http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

About

Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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