Thursday, December 27, 2012

When 'FREE' costs more in the long run: Why WebCenter often costs less then SharePoint - despite the stunning license price difference

I've been keeping off this fray for quite some time, but clients are asking us these questions and it may be a good time to bring in some clarity here and provide some real trustworthy facts, so read on and decide for yourself.

Microsoft SharePoint has surpassed 100 million users in 2011 and has been adding 20,000 users a day, every day for over 5 years. This type of statistics is hard to ignore. SharePoint has a number of very appealing features that makes it a 'no brainer' choice for a growing number of organizations of all sizes. And even when a project turns awry - IT can easily deflect the heat by citing that 'everybody' is experiencing similar issues and pointing to any of the countless articles and case studies. You can no longer get fired for picking SharePoint - just like back in the 80th you couldn’t get fired for going with IBM.

But here's the kicker. While implementing SharePoint as your main content and document management solution may be a safe choice - statistics show that Oracle WebCenter ends up costing 32% lower, has significantly more functionality and comes with out of the box integration to the majority of existing enterprise systems - while 53% of organizations who use SharePoint did not manage to integrate it with any of their other applications.

SharePoint is a great tool for facilitating collaborative environments and it has some very smart marketing behind it. But it lacks depth in many of the key areas, and this forces almost all organizations to invest heavily into third party software - and then - even more - on integration, maintenance and administration.

Here're a few key areas where SharePoint clients are forced to rely on the outside vendors and expensive integration projects - to compensate for the lack of functionality:

  • Reporting, auditing and workflow. While SharePoint offers some basic functionality in these areas, it is vastly inadequate and almost all clients are forced to compliment SharePoint with a mix of 3rd party solutions - for each of these 3 areas
  • Digital Asset Management and Conversion - out of the box conversion to different formats on check in, image and video management and metadata extraction
  • Document capture and scanning support is not included with SharePoint while Oracle WebCenter fully supports scanning.
  • Record Management. SharePoint does not meet the DoD 5015.2 specification, a de-facto industry standard, and is lacking many important features

SharePoint often 'penetrates' an organization with a single department installs SharePoint Services, that come at no additional cost and the word about the 'magic tool that is free to use' gets around. But then, an enterprise-wide implementation does come at a cost - and the costs of all this other required Microsoft and 3rd party software brings the initial investment alone all the way to WebCenter level!

When looking at the total licensing cost - a typical SharePoint rollout costs only 23% less than WebCenter:

And the cost of a "free" SharePoint solution only goes up from there - with much larger integration. customization and maintenance costs. Once you step outside of basic team sits, "SharePoint administrators spend a majority (60%) of their day to day time on activities for site/template administration, content conversion, workflow administration, and integration administration, with nearly a third of the time spent on customization and integration activities"

(Chart from The InfoTrends Whitepaper - SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership)

These work out to significant ongoing costs and when added up over a period of several years, WebCenter comes out ahead by a large margin:

(Chart from The InfoTrends Whitepaper - SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership)

Now if you factor in the cost savings, that come from re-use of existing Oracle hardware and  licenses (such as Oracle Database or Oracle Exadata boxes) - the costs savings will look even more attractive. On the other hand, SharePoint' massive resource requirements, combined with the SQL Server notorious maximum database size limits are forcing you to acquire additional servers and software - even if you are a 'Microsoft Shop'.

So which way should you go - WebCenter or SharePoint? Or maybe both? Should you be migrating your content or integrating the two? Give us a shout at and claim your
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This is what you're getting:
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  1. Hi- good article but I wish you would provide sources for your statistics. specifically you state:
    Oracle WebCenter ends up costing 32% lower, has significantly more functionality and comes with out of the box integration to the majority of existing enterprise systems - while 53% of organizations who use SharePoint did not manage to integrate it with any of their other applications.

    I think this is probably true, but who did this research and when? Please add on to your article as sources give your argument much more credence.

  2. Thanks Lance! The 32% number is based on the study conducted by the InfoTrends ( InfoTrends is the leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry.

    I provide the links to the whitepaper in several places in the post. Here's is the link once again:

  3. My company just went to SharePoint from Oracle Content Server 10gR3. It's like you intereviewd us about our migration for this post, uncanny! I would add that SharePoint is buggy. At least our Oracle site didn't crash all the time from multiple memory leaks and other assorted issues!

    People also argued that Oracle was no longer developing Content Server because someone Googled the word "Stellent" and didn't get a lot of hits. They also said that we didn't have an Oracle developer anymore, though I've been the developer/administrator for the last 6 years. How could they say such a thing, then? It's mostly because the site/Oracle worked so well that no one noticed the one beind the curtain.

    Now we have we have too many people to fit us all behind the curtain, and the new site's quirks are hard to ignore.

  4. Thanks for the feedback. Not surprised to hear, unfortunately. Just one comment - Oracle is very much committed to maintaining the product. Content Server is also an engine in the new Siebel... and I've heard from a very trustworthy source that the new version of WebCenter Content is coming soon!