Vignette brings prices down to local level

Vignette appears to be listening to New Zealand users. Prior to a visit from the content management software giant by regional heads, Computerworld polled local users about their key issues given the imminent arrival of the next version of Vignette's core product, V7.

Vignette appears to be listening to New Zealand users.

Prior to a visit from the content management software giant by regional heads, Computerworld polled local users about their key issues given the imminent arrival of the next version of Vignette’s core product, V7.

Their chief concern was the price differential with local enterprise-level content management (CM) products, sometimes by a factor of 10, and the lack of flexibility in both the pricing structure and the product itself in reflecting New Zealand business realities.

Texas-based Vignette product marketing chief Leif Pedersen and Australian-based regional sales director Mitchell Chapman (pictured) say that although the company doesn’t publish local price lists, the base price for V7 has been cut from around $US200,000 to $US125,000 and hint that there may be further wriggle room depending on the market.

Moreover, the announcement of an ASP deal to lease the product to customers appears to be imminent. Pricing will be set by the ASP.

At the end of October Vignette introduced V7, which delivers a new application framework on which to build content-rich applications. Pedersen says “still-siloed” application suites such as CRM and ERP are not the “be-all” anymore. Customers are demanding “horizontal apps” such as employee portals, customer self-service and e-procurement applications, which Vignette says can be built using its framework, which includes a pure J2EE server architecture and a set of web services.

As regards other user queries, cache management in V7 is improved, says Pedersen, and scripting language tcl will be supported for a while, though it will be phased out over time for Java. Running V6 and V7 sites together will be fine, he says, along with versions of the product 5.6 and above. And, no, Vignette isn’t aware of enterprise-level local competitors, companies like Shaker, Rex and e-cision.

With Vignette V6 and previous versions, the CM system consisted of a set of tools that required a lot of customisation and a heavy investment in services. V7, according to Vignette, is an out-of-the-box CM application that business and technical users can work with directly. In addition, the packaged approach means faster deployment and quicker time to ROI, the company says. Customers are stressing ROI, Chapman says, in what is a “very tough market”.

V7 comes in three sizes, though Pedersen says the company actually divides the market into five segments, from large to small.

It’s Group Suite 7 that will be priced at the lowest level. It’s aimed at departments that need CM to power a single website or portal. Business Suite 7 is designed to serve multiple mission-critical websites and portals. Enterprise Suite 7, meanwhile, of which there are two customers in New Zealand, is designed to unify CM processes across the entire enterprise. It adds advanced reporting, adapters to integrate unstructured content and SDKs for extending and customising the Vignette application to the functions of the Business Suite

As to claims from users that the company goes “hot and cold” on some Vignette features, such as its solutions accelerator and its enterprise application portal, Pedersen accepts that such a view is understandable. However, the accelerator has been built into the product, and the same will happen with the application portal and a content display application, as a result of the buyout of portal specialist Epicentric. “We are maturing our approach to it,” says Pedersen.

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