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FileNet, a company acquired by IBM, developed software to help enterprises manage their content and business processes. The FileNet P8 platform, their flagship system, is a framework for developing custom enterprise systems, offering much functionality out of the box and capable of being customized to manage a specific business process.

Based in Costa Mesa, California, the company markets Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) solutions in more than 90 countries through its own global sales, services and support organizations, as well as via its ValueNet Partner network of resellers, system integrators and application developers.



FileNet was founded in November 1982 by Ted Smith and Ed Miller. A number of the first employees came from the Xerox Office Products Division in El Segundo, with others joining from Basic4 in Orange County.

FileNet was the first company to create a commercially successful document imaging system for businesses, in March 1985. The state of computer technology in early 1983, required FileNet to custom engineer not only its own hardware but the networking software, file system, windowing system and application software to utilize its workstations and servers. This software was developed prior to Sun's NFS, the X Window System for Unix and the wide adoption of the TCP/IP protocol suite. The software on the workstations and servers ran FDOS (FileNet Distributed Operating System), a customized UNIX System V port with additions for the XNS and TCP/IP networking protocols developed by FileNet, a custom graphics card supporting a high-resolution 19-inch monitor; an OSAR (Optical Storage and Retrieval) unit, a robotic optical storage jukebox storing up to 128 2.6-gigabyte optical disks along with a complement of drivers supporting server peripherals. The workstations were diskless and used FileNet's Network Filesystem, to support remote file system access.

In 1985 FileNet released the first commercial Business Process Management (BPM) software, called WorkFlo. (No relation to much earlier Burroughs large system job control language named Workflow.) WorkFlo was a C-Shell like scripting language, written by the late John Gilbert, which was used to automate user interface functions for people using the FileNet system in production environments. An ACM Paper written by William Fisher and John Gilbert was published in the ACM Conference on Office Automation in 1986 describes the system in more detail. Another similar paper was published by Dan Whelan in the 1990s which gives an updated view on how the system evolved.

FileNet enhanced the software offerings by launching their "C.O.L.D." (Computer Output to Laser Disc) in 1986. This allowed storing print generated streams and eliminated having to physically print them on paper. COLD became the industry term describing software which stores standard print formatted documents (e.g. AFP, Metacode or PostScript) for subsequent retrieval, printing or processing.

Outside North America

While FileNet distributed its products in North America, it had an OEM relationship with Italy based Olivetti - that also held stock in the company - for distributing its products, mainly in Europe and Australia. Especially the Belgian, Dutch, UK and Italian subsidiaries were successful in selling the FileNet systems. Early adopters in the Netherlands included Robeco, NCM, PTT Telecom and the Ministry of Justice.

Open systems

In the early 1990's, FileNet introduced a somewhat "open" version of its WorkFlo Business System software - Series 6500 -that ran on the IBM RS/6000 platform and the AIX operating system. The networking software utilized TCP/IP but used FileNet's own non-standard encoding for the application protocols. Open protocol standards were not in the FileNet management thinking, since that was a long time before the Internet and the Open Source movement. For Olivetti, a special port of the software to System V, Release 4 running on an Intel 80486 multi-CPU Olivetti LSX5000 platform was developed. With the movement to standard PC hardware running Microsoft Windows, FileNet added support for the PC as a client platform, running its WorkForce Desktop application software. Its old workstation line was phased out for standard hardware and software as demanded by the customers.


Acquisition of Watermark, Saros and Greenbar

In the early 1990s, FileNet acquired Saros Corporation in 1995 for its electronic document management. FileNet also acquired Watermark Software, a document imaging solution, Watermark Enterprise and Ensemble, and a Windows-based COLD product called Greenbar. This would help FileNet be the first document management company to have a complete "Integrated Document Management" suite with document imaging, electronic document management, COLD and workflow offerings. Around the same time, FileNet delivered their own internally developed entry-level system called Workgroup. The Watermark products were retired by 1999.

In the mid-1990s, FileNet's WorkFlo Business System had evolved into Visual WorkFlo, one of the first workflow solutions with a graphical interface for process modeling.


As a result of their Integrated Document Management strategy, FileNet rebranded the entire product line — the original IMS products, the Saros products, and the newly-developed client IDM products — as the Panagon software suite in 1998.

The Panagon Suite included the following products:

  • Panagon Image Services (high-end imaging solution formerly known as IMS)
  • Panagon Content Services (EDM solution, previously known as Saros Mezzanine)
  • Panagon Report Manager (COLD solution formerly known as Greenbar)
  • Panagon Desktop (new client interface created for the Panagon Suite)
  • Panagon Web Services (new web interface with a common code base with Panagon Desktop; replaced Saros @Mezzanine)
  • Panagon eProcess (Workflow Automation Solution built on top the Visual WorkFlo engine)m

In January 2001 FileNet released Acenza as an entrée into the applications marketplace. Acenza was not broadly adopted and was later retired from the market.

Recent Events

In January 2002 FileNet announced BrightSpire, an application that was eventually rebranded as FileNet P8 ECM. There are a number of FileNet P8 ECM suites that leveraged the experience gained from integrated document management, web content management, and workflow into an integrated Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform. In addition, it took the Workflow products and further developed analysis and optimization components with the Panagon Process Analyzer and Process Simulator, respectively. This enables organizations to analyze and improve processes. This move took FileNet into the Business Process Management field (BPM), and it is regarded as a leader in this growing area.

In April 2002, FileNet acquired Bethesda, MD based eGrail Corporation to add Web Content Management (WCM) to both the Panagon and FileNet P8 ECM families of products.

In April 2003, FileNet added eForms capabilities to the Panagon and P8 products with the acquisition of long time form software vendor Shana Corporation of Edmonton, Canada.

Also in 2003 FileNet extended the P8 suite extending compliance capabilities with the P8 Records Manager solution which helps companies solve regulatory compliance and records issues. In 2004 FileNet added Team Collaboration Manager, built on the P8 platform it is an out-of-the box solution that helps organizations to be more agile and competitive by allowing virtual team members to work together across functional and geographical areas.

Late in 2005 FileNet acquired Yaletown Technology Group of Canada, formerly a FileNet ValueNet Partner; this allowed them to further their capabilities in managing different types of content in the FileNet P8 ECM platform with the Email Manager product (which they had been exclusively marketing in an OEM agreement and was formerly sold as eCW) and furthered their reach into compliance with Records Crawler, formerly known as Universal File Importer or UFI.

They also extended their Business Process Management capabilities releasing the Business Activity Monitor (BAM) solution, which provides real-time event management and visibility of business performance data to enhance operational responsiveness and decision making.

IBM Acquires FileNet

On August 10 2006, IBM agreed to acquire FileNet for US$1.6 billion dollars in cash (about US$35 per share).[1] The transaction closed on October 12 2006.


  1. ^ IBM Buying Spree Continues With FileNet Acquisition,, 8/10/2006

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