Gartner has published its Magic Quadrant for Web content management in 2009, to help CIOs and IT decide just what will meet the needs of the enterprise. Web software is now the fastest growing sector of the enterprise content management market, according to Gartner, and was valued at more $3.3 billion last year.

This annual report identifies the leaders in the industry. We’ve picked out the top dozen vendors aimed at enterprise content management on the Web. Here are their strengths and weaknesses, to let you get a handle on what’s best for your business.

Leaders

While there’s some overlap with generally popular offerings — Drupal-based solutions and open source are getting more attention than ever — most of the top dogs in ECM on the Web are specialist vendors who focus solely on the needs of enterprise. Gartner’s choices for who fits inside the Magic Quadrant bear this out.

Oracle remains one of the biggest players in this area, despite being better known in many circles for its databases. What really brought them on the scene was the acquisition of Stellent in 2007, and since then their strength has been integrating WCM into their wide-ranging offerings for content management.

Autonomy, which entered the sector through its acquisition of Interwoven this year, tends to appeal most strongly to the marketing side of WCM. While they offer an ability to deliver content that’s highly targeted, WCM will continue to be a sideline in terms of profit. While Autonomy can deliver right now, they lack a detailed roadmap for the future of the product.

Open Text is one of the most well-known in this space, and is the top pure play vendor for content management. Despite a close partnership with Microsoft, Garner predicts that Open Text’s top competitor will continue to be SharePoint and other .NET software packages.

SDL acquired Tridion in 2007, and since then has shown impressive growth. This is the result of solid capabilities in multilingual and multichannel content management, as well as robust SharePoint integration.

Challengers

While the three companies listed at challengers by Gartner hardly seem like underdogs, software from Microsoft, IBM, and EMC are increasing in importance very rapidly.

Microsoft’s SharePoint is growing enormously in market share as a Web content management solution. In addition to feeding off the trust that the Microsoft name inspires in just about every CIO, one of the strengths of SharePoint compared to current leaders is the partner ecosystem that is growing rapidly, and how tightly integrated it can be with Microsoft’s other products in e-commerce, Web analytics and search. Of course, as fast as it grows in WCM, SharePoint is hated for its weaknesses as an intranet and document sharing system.

IBM’s greatest strength in content management is also its greatest weakness. The fact that Lotus WCM is vertically-focused and is closely integrated with the entire Websphere Portal makes it appealing to organizations who already use the portal. But for those who don’t, Lotus seems lacking without the rest of IBM’s system.

EMC has been slowly brewing its WCM capabilities since it acquired the fairly popular Documentum in 2003. EMC is especially good in the sense that it works with a broader ECM solution, and can do DAM and records management of Web content too. It’s also shown some of the biggest improvements in its latest release, 6.5, through adding technology first used in X-Hive, an XML database and dynamic delivery environment.

Visionaries

A list of honorable mentions shows up in the Visionaries section of the Magic Quadrant. The label might sound fanciful, but most of these up-and-coming vendors are making a real name for themselves.

Sitecore is a Denmark-based company that’s also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Their .NET CMS is unsurprisingly tied to Microsoft in a multitude of ways, which can be either a plus or a minus, depending on where your enterprise stands technologically.

FatWire Software has a Java software package that focuses on collaborative features and analytics, but suffers from what Gartner calls “costly” customization needs to make it play nice with related technologies.

Ektron is especially famous in the SMB market. Its CMS400.NET integrates relatively well with SharePoint Server.

Day Software sells software based on Java EE, and it’s made strides in usability. Despite these improvements sales have lagged, and Gartner predicts that the partnerships with IBM and HP that this Swiss-based vendor has will decline in the future, weakening its position.

Clickability is a pure SaaS vendor in Web content management which is making progress with enterprises fed up with the costs of on-premise WCM, even if SaaS remains on shaky ground.

There are at least a dozen more vendors in enterprise-class Web content management who get short mentions in Gartner’s report. Solutions such as Alfresco’s open source software or Acquia’s Drupal distribution might not warrant inclusion in any list of leaders yet, but they’re making respectable gains. For a detailed account, be sure to read the full report.