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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.

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