Oracle announced yesterday that it has agreed to buy web content management (WCM) vendor FatWire.  The prominent vendors in the WCM market have been flying off the shelves – relatively speaking – over the past few years as larger vendors recognize the value of content management and delivery platforms as part of an overall digital customer experience management (CXM) portfolio. After all, you can’t really manage experiences without a content foundation, can you? To this end, Adobe acquired Day, Autonomy acquired Interwoven, and now this latest deal. Oracle didn’t reveal how much they paid for FatWire (too bad, because there’s nothing we analysts love more than debating whether or not someone overpaid/underpaid for a company).

FatWire’s acquisition has been a foregone conclusion in WCM circles for some time now, since it was one of the last independent vendors with a proven enterprise track record. Many have speculated on possible FatWire suitors over the past few years, a list that has included at times IBM, and fellow WCM vendor Interwoven, prior to its own acquisition by Autonomy. FatWire has had a dalliance with enterprise content management vendor EMC over the past year or so; the two began a strategic partnership, with EMC acquiring a minority stake in FatWire and promoting it as its solution in the CXM space. However, EMC later struck another partnership with SDL Tridion, so it appeared that the bloom was off the rose in the EMC/FatWire romance, and prospects for EMC’s full acquisition of FatWire grew dim.

But now, FatWire’s finally off the market. The upside for the deal? Oracle – like IBM and Adobe (which recently made an official announcement of its own CXM platform) – is assembling pieces of a CXM portfolio. Oracle’s prominent pieces of the puzzle include ATG for eCommerce, Siebel for customer relationship management, and now FatWire. Oracle also owns some other complementary technologies,  including application infruastructure foundation Fusion Middleware, and Real-Time Decisions, a predictive analytics package which could be a true differentiator in the market if Oracle can get it integrated within the FatWire platform. But for now, those integrations remain possibilities, nothing more.

So, how should content and collab professionals be thinking of this acquisition?

  • If you’re already a FatWire customer, this is not a negative. FatWire has needed deeper pockets in order to make product investments and keep up with the Jonses (or rather the Adobes and SDLs), and this gives them the resources to potentially do so. We’ll be publishing an updated Web Content Management Wave report in the next month or so, and you can see for yourself how FatWire currently measures up. In terms of support, you’ll want to stay vigilant for any changes to your account and/or professional services teams. And you'll want to keep a close eye on changes to product roadmap (smaller, hungrier vendors often tend to be more aggressive, feature-wise).
  • If you’re considering evaluating FatWire, it’s a grayer area. It’s not realistic to expect to understand Oracle’s plans for the product only a day after the announcement. But after an initial demo and before giving any feedback, ask about the areas where Oracle plans to invest in the product, and see if they align with your observations of strengths and weaknesses. Also ask if there will be any changes in the sales reps or professional services teams you are talking to, if that’s applicable.
  • If you are using or evaluating Oracle UCM for WCM, keep in mind that Oracle will focus that product on supporting general Web publishing (informational sites, intranets, etc.), rather than rich, interactive, multichannel experiences.