As Tim Bray says “Wow”. Here is the announcement post with a huge number of comments. This is discouraging. As I have argued before, we need the kinds of capabilities WinFS was striving for to make the next leap in managing information. I remain skeptical that database platforms are a sufficient solution for effective object management – they may be the necessary next step, but they are certainly not the ultimate answer.
There are no doubt many easier, shorter-term ways to get return on software development than a radically different operating system, but hopefully at some point there will be sufficient recognition by all the software infrastructure vendors that working together to build a modern OS would be worth it. On the other hand, perhaps what has happened to WinFS is really a sign that the days of huge operating systems are numbered. The problems are really bigger than any one platform. What kind of cross-platform infrastructure is feasible to accomplish the fluid, granular and meaningful interchange of content and behavior we know we need? This is a more interesting question than whether WinFS itself is dead.
UPDATE: There is a lot of commentary out there, but as usual Jon Udell has a view worth reading.
Nora Barnes has released the results of research into blogging from the Center for Marketing Research at UMass Dartmouth, where she is the Director and a Professor. This is a welcome addition to the sparse collection of research that has been conducted to date. The published report is free and is available (as a 1.3mb PDF) here, or from the Center, where there is also a link to a podcast of an interview with Nora, and links to comments from others on the study.
We’ve been monitoring acitivity in the BPM market with an eye on the connections between ECM and BPM technologies as they apply to content-centric business processes and applications. The evolution of BPM suites has been particularly interesting and in many ways, analogous to the patterns that formed the current ECM suite market. Technology convergence, vendor consolidation, a full slate of interchangeable acronyms, and rising levels of market confusion surrounding the definitive list of suite-level components are all evident as the BPM suite market continues to define itself. Sound familiar?
BPM suites are clearly an emerging market. Broadly defined as the ability to model, execute, simulate, and optimize business processes, the market consolidates technologies such as analytical modeling, rules design and execution, workflow, data aggregation, and process optimization into a single platform vision. Numerous pure-play BPM providers within each technology segment are evolving toward “the vision” in different ways.
I am positive that this is not a “never the twain shall meet” situation when it comes to content strategies and ECM technologies. Process and content are siblings; it is only a matter of time before many of the isolated technologies that support both will merge in a more tangible manner than simple workflow. This kind of ECM and BPM intersection is more complex than the traditional integration of the BPM market’s straight-through processing (STP) expertise with data-centric, transactional content. Rather, it will be an emerging focus on what we view as process content, or content that travels through a complex, human-driven, interactive, and iterative lifecycle.
EMC’s acquisition of ProActivity is a tangible indicator of this evolving intersection, demonstrated as well by BEA’s acquisition of Fuego, FileNet’s ongoing investment in its BPM components, the progression of DM/BPM players such as Global 360 and Hyland Software, and Lombardi Software’s integration with Microsoft Office. Stay tuned for more as the market heads toward cohesive vertical and horizontal solutions — critical for both traction and helping the user community understand implementation value. We’ll keep you posted.