Rumors of Autonomy and Microsoft. Say What?

A friend sent me a link to a Reuters article speculating the acquisition of Autonomy by Microsoft.    At first glance one says, “Not so fast, what about FAST!”  But hey, “not so fast?”

Autonomy is an interesting combination of survivors of the internet boom.  Not following the Computer Associates model like Open Text appears to be doing by buying competing companies.  This year both acquired WCM vendors, Autonomy acquired Interwoven and Open Text acquired Vignette, but Open Text already had one in Red Dot.  That’s why I’m a little confused with the Microsoft rumor.

There are several bit of interesting technology that make up Autonomy.  There’s Autonomy and Verity with indexing, Interwoven with WCM, iManage with ECM and collaboration (iManage was previously acquired by Interwoven), email archiving with Zantaz, records management with Meridio, and Virage with rich-media indexing and DAM.

The Autonomy Catalog
For those that think Autonomy and FAST are competition they’re not.  Granted both are used for search and retrieval but both follow very different approaches.  Where FAST is indexed based full-text where Autonomy is based on affinity, terms within content and how it relates to other documents.   This is new technology for Microsoft. 

FAST does compete head on with Verity.  For a while it looked like Verity was getting beaten by a faster FAST, but some indications are that this may not be an accurate perceptionThis is absolutely overlapping technology.

Virage has been around for a long time.  The Virage VideoLogger is probably still one of the best video indexing tools and as a pure digital asset manager MediaBin is a solid user interface.  This is net new technology for Microsoft.

Interwoven is as much a competitor to SharePoint as any ECM.  Granted it’s my opinion that SharePoint while great for collaboration is just not up to speed on Content management.  But to me that’s ok, SharePoint is a collaboration player not a content management player.  This one depends on Microsoft’s view of SharePoint, either it overlaps or it’s new.

iManage is a direct competitor to SharePoint.  Back in the day it was eRoom versus iManage.  eRoom was acquired by Documentum and iManage by Interwoven.  This means the technology from iManage completely overlapping.

SharePoint 2007 already supports records management.  Their approach uses individual document libraries for each file plan.  While Microsoft feels this is “good enough” most of us know that this can become very complex in large enterprise records centers.  Unless the positioning changes, Meridio is a pure overlap.

Email archiving and retention is nothing new for Microsoft either.  They have announced that Exchange 2010 will include archiving and retention capabilitiesThis makes the technology from Zantaz redundant.

My Assessment
I don’t see Microsoft buying Autonomy.  There’s more overlapping technology than there is new, especially for the price that would have to be paid.  My guesses on who would acquire Autonomy?

Number one on the list is HP.   HP likes software that’s platform based.  Autonomy would give them a huge jump in the cataloging of unstructured content.  There’s also very little overlap.  Tower and Meridio is the only one that comes to mind of any significance.

With the recent dueling acquisitions by Dell of Perot (to HP’s EDS), one has to wonder what Dell is thinking.  Is software next?

I still think Open Text is potential target of Google, which was seconded by a Wall Street Journal blogger last week.  I wouldn’t expect Google to look at Autonomy.  Autonomy is more of platform and less UI.  Which i believe Google would be looking for.

15 thoughts on “Rumors of Autonomy and Microsoft. Say What?

  1. I seriously think you could be wrong on this one Marko.

    This could be very disruptive to the ECM market as well. Sharepoint’s “legitimacy” in the ECM space may not be enhanced but MSFT’s placement in all the rankings will be.

    I also think you have underestimated the value of both Zantaz and Meridio. Sure Sharepoint say they do 5015 but that is not the only RM spec to deal with in the market. (MoReq2) MSFT’s offering (which isn’t out yet) will not likely address the other half (yes I said half) of the email market still on Lotus.

    I guess the real question is who in MSFT is buying? I suspect that if they are interested they may not be looking at it with a holistic perspective. There is quite a lot for MSFT to gain from this acquisition – but more than anything it is a chance to poke Google and Yahoo in the eye by pulling in one of the few remaining enterprise search options left and claiming that piece of the market share. .

    1. Lee,

      I’m sticking to my guns on this. I can’t recall Microsoft ever making an acquisition of “conglomerate”. Most of their acquisitions have been of one technology not several. It would also mean that Microsoft would, in a way, admit that they didn’t really have the real answers today. Not going to happen.


  2. Marko,

    I know it is maybe difficult for you to talk about this as EMCrs but I will say it any way, the real potential and value of Autonomy is with EMC , it will give Documentum, two technologies they always struggles with Search and WCM.

    Also will give EMC larger market share in the enterprise search , and eDiscovery areas.

    1. Walid,

      Correct in that I can’t comment on your statement, especially for something I would have no knowledge of to begin with.

      I can point out that if you look at enterprise content management in general (EMC, IBM, Oracle, and Open Text), none use their own technology for indexing.


  3. Marko,

    In fact Oracle uses its own Oracle Text indexing in its solution since June 2008. See metalink note 580158.1 for more information.


  4. I won’t comment on acquisition speculation but I can speak to functionality. I’ve said for many years that Documentum before and CMA needed its own search. They should have bought Verity before it was snapped up by Autonomy. EMC is addresing the issue internally so I don’t think that an acquisition purely around search makes sense.

    Keep in mind – Autonomy’s lead value prop is their Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) which is a different positioning than pure play search.

    one other point – OT has their own search offering as well.

  5. Late to the conversation. Some points..

    – SharePoint 2007 and RM do not meet. It is not being sold by Microsoft actively. Maybe in 2010, but not right now. Meridio may be a way to get there sooner. Even Microsoft is steering them to alternatives like CA’s RM solution.

    – On email archiving, until we see it in action, just because Microsoft calls it email archiving doesn’t mean it really IS email archiving. It also isn’t here yet. They could pull some things out of Zantaz that make their offering work.

    I don’t see it happening because this isn’t the type of acquisition that they typically execute. The only way I see this happening is if they have decided that FAST is not going to work and they want to buy an alternative.


  6. Since when did Microsoft stop pushing recrods management capabilities inside SharePoint. The last time I mentioned that in front of a Microsoft rep I got both barrels.

  7. Opentext purchased Hummingbird for market share not technology (Hummingbird DM / RM etc were in direct competition with Opentexts ECM offerings)…

    Now it looks like Autonomy will be announcing a buyout of Opentext, both for market share and to eliminate a competitor…

    I think the only Reason Microsoft has not jumped into the fray with both feat is because they are still all too aware of there perception as the big bad company and what that image has cost them in the past.

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