Yesterday, IBM announced WebSphere Portal 7.0 and Lotus Web Content Management 7.0 will be ready to ship on September 1, 2010 (normally I’d link to a press release, but strangely I can’t find one). Some highlights pointed out were accommodation of other portlet models (widgets), out of the box social software (blogs, wikis inherited from Lotus Web Content Management, and tagging), and better integration of LWCM. And LWCM is getting user interface and functionality improvements that help it catch up to the rest of the WCM market.
Separately, IBM announced WebSphere revenues increased 17% year-over-year in Q2. That’s a significant chunk of their $3.3 billion in revenue from “key middleware products, which include WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Lotus and Rational”. So WebSphere (which includes the application server as well) certainly isn’t hurting – indeed it’s a workhorse of IBM’s middleware portfolio.
Strange then, that there needed to be two refutations of the “portals are dead” mantra in the opening keynotes. Seems a bit insecure for a vendor saying everything is peachy. And talking to some of the IBM folks, we agreed it must seem weird for first time attendees of a portal conference to hear “portals are not dead” twice in the opening presentations. But being a solid workhorse lacks pizzazz and doesn’t guarantee future results. That’s why, in addition to the v7 announcements – which seem to be about keeping up with or slightly ahead of the market – they also delivered a vision statement called Northstar (more on that in a future blog post).
Yes, portals are still doing fine and so is WebSphere portal, the best performer of the traditional, top-down, Java-based portal products. But I suspect SharePoint is growing even faster and eating up a lot of the employee-facing portal business. Enough that IBM was talking a lot about customer-facing portals, where the competition from SharePoint isn’t as strong.
So I don’t think V7 alone moves the market. It maintains IBM’s revenue stream here and keeps it increasing in line with portfolio growth, but it will fall to the realization of Northstar to accomplish a major revenue bump.