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Analyst report: FileNet P8

FileNet P8 3.0 is an integrated collection of product suites spanning the content management (CM) spectrum, from front-end Web content through to transactional imaging. P8 is J2EE-compliant, though FileNet has retained its Microsoft alliance through its established Image Manager product (formerly Panagon).

First launched in January 2003, P8 was a bold step into the enterprise content management (ECM) arena and came from investing significant time and resources into an impressive new solution. Perhaps the greatest achievement, though, was that the company managed to keep the development under wraps, so that when the new product suite was launched, it took many of its competitors by surprise. Now, 18 months down the line, FileNet P8 has been strengthened further (Version 3.0) with the launches of the new Records Manager and Team Collaboration Manager capabilities.

A strong, viable vendor in the CM market, FileNet competes directly with the likes of Documentum and IBM , which have both positioned themselves as ECM players. With a solution that combines imaging, document-oriented CM, business process management (BPM) and Web content management (WCM), FileNet has a strong play. Its key differentiator in the market is the process-centric approach to ECM. The firm is known as much for its BPM offerings as its ECM solutions, and that philosophy of process-driven experiences is emphasized further in the latest release.

The key theme of 3.0 is connectivity, underpinned by FileNet's traditional focus on process-focused functionality. The connectivity comes courtesy of XML-based Web services that feed into the current requirement of large organizations to embrace a service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach to their activities. The key announcement, however, with 3.0 is not the SOA alone (which was expected) but the refinement of the BPM capabilities, centralizing some of that capability into what FileNet refers to as the BPM Orchestrator.

In short, the new focus on XML Web Services, combined with FileNet's existing strength in BPM technology, means that integrating disparate data repositories and business applications into a holistic and centrally managed flow should become much easier. Along with this announcement, 3.0 also saw the release of FileNet's Records Management and Collaborative tools. Both of those pieces of functionality fill gaps in the current portfolio and will be of most use to existing FileNet customers. Both provide simple, but effective and usable functionality.

This is a key focus for FileNet as its products have long been technically of a very high quality, but not always the most user friendly. These two products, however, indicate a significant improvement. Overall, Ovum has been impressed with P8, and the latest version builds on what is already a solid and scalable platform.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Ovum's VP of software and services, North America, e-mail aps@ovum.com, and Sarah Kittmer, Ovum senior analyst, e-mail shk@ovum.com.

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