Content management: A strategic application

By Owen Linderholm, InfoWorld |  Software

TODAY'S MARKET offers a seemingly endless array of content management software, and the choices can be baffling. The question isn't whether to implement a content management solution; instead it's which one and how?

Typically, solutions can be separated into two main camps with a smattering of solutions in between and at the extremes. The most common and oldest solutions are proprietary, all-in-one solutions, although many are now embracing new standards and technologies such as XML and Java 2 Enterprise Edition. Recently, these have been challenged by the more open, building-block solutions based on XML, which have the advantage of allowing much greater customization -- but at the cost of an easier installation process.

Options and futures

The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) is the oldest options and futures trading exchange in the world, founded 152 years ago. In the mid-1990s, Chris Johnson, now manager of Internet technologies, was overseeing three static Web sites for CBOT: an intranet serving 700 employees and primarily used for HR, internal applications, and directories; an extranet known as MemberNet, which provides free real-time quotes, message boards, market information, and personal trading reports used by the 4,000 CBOT members; and the public site, which presents data such as marketing and public relations information, time-delayed quotes, and CBOT product information.

"In the old days we separately maintained static Web sites and had to go to all three whenever we updated, each with its own look and feel," Johnson says. "It sucked for the IT group to be putting three separate releases on three sites by hand all day long."

Three years ago, CBOT started looking for a better content management solution and came across Austin, Texas-based Vignette through a contact at the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

"At the time, [Vignette] was the leading solution in the space, and it fit exactly with what we wanted to do," Johnson explains. "It took us well over a year to decide on what we wanted to do and to select Vignette. You have to remember: We are an old and conservative company and often move slowly. But everything changed when the business users wanted everything to move more quickly on the Web and counted on how quickly [information] could be turned around."

In April 2000, CBOT chose Vignette, and Vignette's professional services group spent three weeks planning with CBOT before they started implementing the system on May 1. The internal site went live in June, MemberNet followed in July, and the public site went live in August.

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