Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hello Vignette, Goodbye Red Dot

Sometimes one has to feel sorry for a customer base. They buy a product (a difficult and expensive process in the first place), stick with it despite its quirks and its sometimes boneheaded refusal to work, train their staff to use it, and develop systems around it, and integrate it into the core of their business processes. Then, the product gets retired, and the whole shebang starts all over again.

This is undoubtedly the roller coaster ride that some customers of Open Text must feel they've been enjoying/enduring* (* delete as appropriate) in the last couple of years. First Open Text buys the Red Dot Content Management System and retires their previous LiveLink WCM. Not to worry, existing customers are reassured about licence transfers and an easy migration path.

Then Open Text go and do it all over again! This time they buy Vignette and are now retiring Red Dot sometime after 2010. Instead, a hybrid 'Red Vignette' will be unleashed upon their customer base, again with reassurances about licence transfers and easy migrations. This is just as I warned in an earlier posting.

Any migration will be difficult and so will any hybridisation - Vignette is Java based while Red Dot is an ASP/.NET application. Open Text talk of using Vignette as the backend and Red Dot as the front end - great, you now need .Net & Java developers on board if you want to customise your implementation!

So, perhaps your company is forward looking and you decided to train some staff in .NET in order to prepare the way for the eventual migration from LiveLink WCM to Red Dot. Now, lets send them on a Java course as well so that we're prepped for when Red Vinegar comes around. Few companies have such training largesse in the current economic climate - thanks again Open Text.

Does it seem like somebody is taking the piss? You might say this is a valuable lesson that the licence cost is just the start of the expense of owning software. Still, you might think that its also time to start looking at Open Source solutions like Alfresco - which is both an EDRMS and a WCM. Afterall, what's the worst that Open Source could do to you?