EMC World 2014 Pre Conference Thoughts

I’ve written this post while on the long flight from Manchester to Las Vegas to attend EMC World 2014, and specifically the Momentum conference. This is the second time I will have attended EMC World and I’ve got a much better view of what to expect from Momentum being part of a wider conference. Since the last time I was here, 2 years ago, EMC IIG have executed on their plan. 2 years ago the focus was on business solutions and the new version of xCP. We can see from their products that there has been an increase in the number of business solutions which are available and we have also seen the successful release of xCP 2 which has enabled partners like ourselves to rapidly deploy Case based solutions to out customers. Whilst on the flight though my thoughts have turned to whats next, how do EMC continue to evolve IIG as the market evolves at an increasingly rapid, and sometimes fraught, pace. @BrilliantLeap posted her thoughts last week and they are interesting read. Here’s my take on what I’d like to see come out of the week:

Syncplicity – 2 years ago EMC announced the acquisition of Syncplicity and since then the product has gone from strength to strength, I understand it is one of the fastest growing products in the EMC portfolio. At the moment though I feel it is a product which sits on the side of the EMC IIG portfolio, positioned as a competitor to the likes of Box and DropBox. I’d like to see more of Synplcitiy being brought into the EMC IIG family. What does this mean? Well aside from the true integration into the core Documentum product I’d like to see more than just file synch and share activities being made available. One thing which I know a number of customers struggle with is offline Case Management, from the concept of task creation though to full task management. I’d love to see the product being brought closer into the xCP product and the functional reach being extended to included some of the xCP functionality.

InfoArchive – This is a product which I have been watching closely for the past 2 years. It really does start to bring together the concept of Information Lifecycle Management, combining Data and Content. However there is a cloud on the horizon and one which needs to be addressed. Big Data. Info Archive could be considered the single repository for all ‘old’ data in an organisation while solutions such as the Data Lake form Pivotal are being considered as the single repository for ‘all’ Data in an organisation. Bringing alignment and a single vision to these products would be an interesting play. I do believe that the question of compliance is one which Big Data is even to consider, never mind address. Whilst Pivotal is not necessarily EMC there is a great opportunity to address potential chalenges in this area ahead of any competition.

Social and Collaboration – Putting Syncplicity to one side this is an area of weakness in the EMC product suite. Funnily in the past week I have heard of one organisation who are still using eRoom and one organisation who use Centerstage. Any move EMC make into this market place will be difficult, as a brand they are not associated with these solutions and the likes of SharePoint, Jive and Alfresco have a much better reputation. Are they going to address tihs or are they going to continue to leave this area untouched. The challenge with the latter is where does this leave Syncplicity, which I have already mentioned. If customers are truly embracing Syncplcitiy then there is an opportunity for EMC to use this brand, and the customers who are using it, to improve their offerings in this space.

These are just three ideas which have been giving me food for thought, will be interesting to see what is discussed and disclosed. There has been suggestions that EMC would consider selling the IIG division, if they do then oneplace for them to go would be Pivotal. I can’t see that happening just yet but don’t rule it out!

Oracle and Documentum Part 2

I did say in my previous post that if Oracle posted a recording of their webinar I would add some further comments as I did not get to hear all of the live webcast. Well they have.

The bits I did not get first time round:

3 Reasons to Move

  • Brain Drain. Yes there has been a big change in the leadership of EMC IIG, as it is now known, since EMC bought Documentum and I do think they are still to really make a mark so this is a fair point.
  • Slow Product Releases. Yes, Centerstage was delayed a long time and there is a long wait for D7 and xCP 2.0.
  • Rising Maintenance Fees. I’ve not seen this myself.
There was also a slide on the comparison of the two architectures which highlighted that a Documentum architecture will require a number of 3rd Party Products, such as Oracle as the Database of Weblogic as the Apps Server. This is definitely correct and is one of the reasons why Documentum is a complicated and costly implementation. There are plans to change this but the simplicity of a Single Vendor solution is appealing.
The only other bit I missed was around the reduction in cost. Generally the points here were made well, License costs will be much of a muchness and Documentum will require 3rd Party Licenses. The big thing though was the size of the Admin team. The webinar claimed that on a sample implementation they found a team of 20 Administrators for Documentum which could be reduced to 4 for Oracle. This one I find hard to agree with!
So overall it did not make a big impact on my original view of the Webinar but it did point out some of the reasons why Oracle could be less expensive to implement, some which I would agree with and some which I would not.
I’ll be interested to find out if EMC respond to this during their Momentum conference this week.

Oracle and Documentum

This evening I attended a webinar on the subject of the recent offer from Oracle to existing Documentum customers to trade in their Documentum licenses for Oracle Webcenter licenses. Apart from the shock factor of such an offer I am genuinely interested as Oracle has been something of a sleeping giant when it comes to Content Management. They have bought a vast number of companies but the message has, for some reason, failed to really take off.

Before I go into my observations I must say that I was late for the start of the webinar and my internet connection was very intermittent so whilst I saw the majority of the slides it was clear that a lot of the value came from the voice overs. I’m hoping there will be a recording to watch later on and if there is I will add an updated post if there is something I have missed. I must also say that I have knowledge of the Oracle solutions but I have experience of the Documentum solutions; I don’t favour one or the other by default but my greater experience of the Documentum products enable me to have a better appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve put down what I understood to be the reasons for moving from Documentum to Oracle below:

- Lower labour costs. Oracle are claiming that labour costs will reduce by 93% by moving from Documentum to Oracle. If this is true then it gets my attention immediately. However I do have big reservations on this number, both in its specifics (who can really give evidence of a 93% reduction) and also in its magnitude (just consider that 93% is slightly more than reducing a 10 man team to a 1 man ‘team’).

- Better Web Experience Management. Yes, I get this. With the purchase of Fatwire Oracle have definitely stolen a march on Documentum. Remember EMC originally looked to Fatwire as a partner and potential acquisition target. Documentum does not do WEM or WCM well, end of. If all you are using Documentum for is WEM or WCM then I’d suggest a move.

- Savings on costs relating to Search. It was discussed on the webinar the new Documentum search tool xPlore and the costs involved in upgrading to this. Yes this will be something which Documentum customers will need to face in the near future but its not a compelling reason to move in my view. Interestingly it was also discussed that the Oracle solution enables search of other repositories…well the same goes for Documentum so not an advantage there.

- Better integration points. This homed in on integration with the core Oracle Apps such as E-Business suite. This is definitely an area which I would expect Oracle to have an advantage over Documentum on but its not an area where they have an exclusive advantage. There are third party products available to enable this integration and with the advent of CMIS I would expect this advantage to be marginalised to a degree. Having said that there was no mention of SAP customers, maybe they should just go for OpenText ;-).

- Better Social and Innovation Capabilities. I’d probably agree here. Documentum’s attempts here, Centerstage, have missed the mark for one reason or another and if you’re using Documentum purely for this then you’re probably not on the right platform, although there are other alternatives to Oracle if you do look around.

- Documentum has limited Use Cases. Took me back a little this one, there is being bold and then there is being bold. With any ECM product you can do just about anything, whether you should do just about everything is a different matter but my experience with Documentum is that it is a very flexible platform, in fact I would say at times its disadvantage is its flexibility as it can become an issue as people try to create a silver bullet with it. I’d be surprised if Oracle is any different, from my knowledge it may have integrations with other Oracle products but it lacks some of the flexibility of an xCP style implementation.

What came out in the Q&A session is that the offer is purely for the Content Server licenses. I don’t know of many customers who just use Content Server and do not extend it with something like xCP or Records Manager so there is an interesting challenge to be addressed there.

So where does this leave me?

To be honest I was disappointed. I expected a compelling reason to come out which would help me understand why I can approach Documentum customers and tell them they should move to Oracle. That didn’t come out. There are some situations when a move would make sense and some when it would not and for anyone out there who either has Documentum or is looking at buying it you need to do the right research for your situation. Nothing new there, you don’t invest in a new ECM, either in a greenfield situation or as a replacement, without a high level of due-diligence.

Oracle remains a strong product in this space and to be honest I think they will continue to strengthen in this space, especially with the acquisitions of Fatwire and Endeca. If you’re looking for a new ECM product then it should be one of the ones you look at but make sure you know the capabilities you want from your ECM and map these against the product capabilities.

Final Point

Just a final point on the timing of this offer. Next week is the EMC Documentum conference Momentum. At last year’s conference EMC started to talk about their Next Generation Information Server (NGIS). This will be a big change in the product platform and one of the big advantages is that customers will no longer need a 3rd Party database to support their Documentum implementation as they will bundle everything together with their XML Database xDB. What is the relevance of this? The vast majority of Documentum implementations I have seen use Oracle as the back end database. In the future these will not be required. Food for thought.

Preparing for the EMC IIG Future

Its taken a while but I did say after the event in Lisbon that I would put together some advice for people who are currently skilled in IIG products which will enable them to prepare for the future. In Lisbon a number of major announcements were made on the IIG products which will start to change the products in the next few years, no timescales were given. Some of these changes were:

- the move to the Next Generation Information Server(NGIS) and away fro the Content Server;

- the move away from WDK and towards RCMP for all web clients;

- more cloud enablement of the product stack;

- the introduction of XPlore (technical not announced in Lisbon but the timing of its introduction lets me put it in here!);

So if I was advising a Documentum developer on what to learn what would I advise them to do, in no particular order:

- learn XPlore, depending on what exposure you have to the search components of Documentum most people will need to know the basics of XPlore;

- download, install and try things in Centerstage. Why? Its the first client based on RCMP and if you can start to master development on this platform now you will be well placed when the new clients, such as xCP 2.0, come out. I’d recommend trying with all the facets of it including adding Widgets which could provide integration points with other systems;

- download, install and start to learn xDB. It may take some time for NGIS to be delivered but it will be based on xDB as the database. Learning it now will put you ahead of the game, I would look at starting to build some apps which use the engine for management of structured data which you currently find you need to model in your current Documentum based apps e.g. the POLE model (Person, Object, Location and Event);

- try out the CMIS connectors, a slightly different approach but try different methods of using the CMIS connectors on Documentum. Think of some scenarios where this may be required, e.g. an ERP system which requires to pull documents from multiple content repositories. Try it with multiple Documentum repositories and then throw in a alternative such as Alfresco or SharePoint 2010.

These are just some ideas and they may not get you ahead in the world today, but in the future you’ll be in a strong position.

 

Momentum 2010 – Cloud Strategy for xCP

Apologies for the delay in this post but following Momentum I had a week off to spend time with the family, and I wanted to make sure that time was spent with them and not writing more blog posts.

This is the last post on a specific session and covers a session which was presented by Randy Hodge on Wednesday, it was a late session but was still relatively well attended. Randy is a knowledgeable guy and the presentation was good in that it came across as someone who knows their stuff and not necessarily someone who has been presented with a message to give.

Firstly I must say that this was really a presentation on strategy so there is no commitment that what was presented will actually come to fruition.

Firstly Randy justified the move to cloud as a need to reduce the pain which customers feel and to reduce the crippling TCO. Reducing this TCO of services will stop the current situation of too much money being spent on maintenance and not enough on investment opportunities.

In talking about Cloud Randy then talked about how to consider the EMC IIG stack and the message I took is that xCP is PaaS and something like the Investigative Case Management solution is SaaS. Generally I agreed with the messaging here but there were a few things which we could quibble about, e.g. where does Captiva fit in. EMC are seeing customer demand for the cloud especially in xCP and customers are making moves to deploy xCP applications to the cloud in areas such as Justice, FS and Health. Similarly IIG want to move customers to the cloud.

xCP for the cloud will:

  • evangelise xCP on VMWare;
  • drive down TCO and increase agility;
  • revolutionise the way applications are developed and deployed;
  • evolve the ecosystem model;

He then announced that xCP is now VMWare ready.

He described how xCP in the cloud will drive down costs, Virtualisation can do this too but Cloud can further drive down costs.

The characteristics of a successful cloud solution, as defined by NIST, are:

  • Rapid elasticity;
  • Resource Pooling (multi-tenancy);
  • Measured Service;
  • On demand self service;
  • Ubiquitous network access

He then talked about multi-tenancy and how that can be achieved. This was interesting as Randy and I had discussed this earlier in the week and I think this still needs a bit of refinement, my belief that the number of tenants does not drive whether a solution should be considered multi-tenant or not although it is one factor. Imagine a scenario with two organisations wanting to share an ECM repository but with different business processes yet the content subject to the same Policies for retention. Randy talked about the Dedicated Repository Model or the Shared Repository Model, my problem below would need some thinking about how to resolve (perhaps Federated RM is the way forward there?).

Another interesting statement was that EMC want to provide services which can be consumed elsewhere, so the EMC app may not be the primary application which users interact with but could provide an element of the overall business process. I am seeing this more and more and the introduction of CMIS will, I think, increase the number of scenarios where this is applicable.

Finally Randy showed a diagram and used it to explain the various models which xCP in the Cloud will be delivered. Unfortunately my notes do not do justice to the diagram so I will attempt to describe it instead:

  • Traditional model where SI’s build an application based on xCP and deploy it to the Cloud which is then accessed by end users;
  • A model where ISV’s develop apps built on xCP and deploy these to an App Store from where they are purchased and accessed by users;
  • A model where xCP is deployed within the Cloud and the services are exposed and then consumed through custom applications which may or may not be deployed in another cloud.

As I say that doesn’t really do the session justice, I felt as though it was an interesting session and given that I have asked EMC before about Cloud it is something they need to get moving on and get moving quickly.

Momentum 2010 – Summary

I’ve still got one or two more posts on individual sessions to crank out but given there has been one or two summary posts already, from Andrew and others, I wanted to get down my overall thoughts on the few days in Lisbon. I’ll go through each day and then bring it all together.

Day 1 – Partner Conference

The first day brought a feeling of change, with new people like Fred Monjazeb, Chris McLaughlin and Jeetu Patel taking to the stage it did feel as though there was a change in the senior positions. Coupled with the announcement the previous Thursday on the departure of Mark Lewis I was looking forward to the following day’s keynote. The venue itself was great, nice to have a bit of warmth in late October and there was a lot more space in the exhibition area. I had a great chance to catch up with a lot of people in the afternoon and then evening over dinner before the night was brought to a close listening to some Fado music in the centre of Lisbon. If you ever go to Lisbon find a bar which plays this music, it is a great experience.

Day 2 – Keynotes and Architecture

Now I have already posted about both the Architecture session and the morning Keynote. Jeroen really got people to sit up and take notice in his architecture session, it was a bit of a slow build up (necessarily slow as this was a deep dive), but I just wish Jeroen had timed his presentation, he clearly needed two hours and not the allotted 45 minutes. As a result he did a second part in the late afternoon which I couldn’t get to due to other commitments, Virtual Momentum will have to do for this if it is one of the sessions on there. Enough has been said on the keynote, although I will come back to the overall message at the end. However there was definitely a buzz starting to go through the conference following some of the sessions. Personally I was also starting to get busy as the number of customers who wanted to talk with me started to increase. The Cultural Evening was good fun but the location was not great, nearly two hours on a bus wasn’t the best way to start the evening. Still, a positive day overall.

Day 3 – Presentation Day

Day 3 was when I was due to give a presentation on SharePoint and Documentum, but first I attended the Fatwire presentation to understand EMC’s direction on integrating this product. This was interesting and a colleague of mine, Jeff Quiggle, gave a good insight into how customers can look at migrating content from Documentum to Fatwire. However I did get a bit of feeling of ‘so what’ from this session, we were shown a numbver of websites which were produced using Fatwire but to be honest they could have been done in HTML. I would have loved to have seen how the content was managed, or how the customer feedback was brought back into the repository or how Social Media really could have been linked into the overall solution.

I then did my presentation with Jon Ludwig. This was a well attended session, still waiting for the exact numbers, and it was good to get up in front of people with this being my 3rd Momentum and something I had made a promise to myself back in Prague that I would do. The feedback afterwards was positive and I look forward to finding more stories to tell to customers and partners at future events. The other theme on the Wednesday was the number of customers who I spoke to, I counted nearly a dozen different customers who wanted to talk to me in detail about SharePoint and Documentum. This was great fun and a great way to help understand the challenges they face and the types of solutions they are looking for. There is no doubt that there is a real need out there to understand how to embrace SharePoint and how to get the two technologies working together, looking forward to helping people to achieve this.

Finally I attended Randy Hodge’s presentation on getting xCP to work in the Cloud. This was very interesting and I will post details on the session in the near future. I had spoken to Randy earlier in the week and it was great to hear him describe his role and the important which EMC are placing on getting xCP 2.0 right and getting their vision of Cloud right. We had a good discussion on the Use Cases I am seeing in the UK and I look forward to seeing the results.

Day 4 – The End

Whilst this was my 3rd Momentum this was the 1st time I had made it to the final day, other commitments in previous years meant I had to leave early. The last day is clearly wind down time and while there some interesting sessions I do think it must be hard if you are given one of the speaking slots on the Thursday morning. They final keynote itself was a summary of the week, perhaps it needs a bit more oomph in its message but I guess most of the attendees don’t make it to this session.

Summary

So I have to agree with Andrew that this was the best Momentum, certainly that I have been. And it could have been better still. Why?

1. There is a feel of change at the top, not just Rick replacing Mark but also some of the management team, have brought a new impetus to the organisation. I was very impressed whenever Fred Monjazeb or Jeetu Patel spoke and look forward to meeting them more in the future.

2. The keynote, this should have been so much better. This is not a criticism of Mark directly as the delivery was not the main problem in the session. It was the message. As Andrew said in his blog the EMC IIG tanker has slowly been moved in a new direction and I felt this was the first time they could talk about this new direction yet this message came from the other sessions and not the Keynote. The move to xDB and the Next Generation Information Server, the strategy around Cloud, the release of xPlore, the focus on business solutions, the reduced reliance on 3rd Party products, the rationalisation of the User Interface suite, the focus on faster and easier deployment….there was so much which could have been said and wasn’t in that one session.

3. The next few years will see a huge change in the EMC IIG products. The release of xCP 2.0 next year is the first milestone but the move to the NGIS will be massive. The name itself marks a change in the products but if EMC do succeed in making it truly an information server and can combine it with the Process Management and Governance capabilities elsewhere in the product set then it could be a game changing release.

4. SharePoint. Okay so I did present on it but it is a much discussed subject, I spent well over 12 hours discussing with customers, partners and EMC themselves the different approaches to take to harmonising their existing Documentum environments with the SharePoint world. It appears that there are more than a few organisations who are scratching their heads on how to get the technologies to complement each other.

I’ll follow up with a post on what the future may mean for people and what I hope to see at Momentum 2011 in Berlin.

Momentum 2010 – Keynote

Right so it has taken a couple of days to get this write up done, mainly due to the huge amount of time which I have spent at Momentum talking to customers, more on that in another post.

As I said in my post on the Partner Day I was really hoping that IIG would use the Keynote to make the change from Mark to Rick and to show a vision for the next 5 years and a plan to execute on that. So did the Keynote achieve this, in my view it missed the mark by some distance on those points. I’m not actually going to go into too much detail on the presentation as I got the feeling that it was Mark’s view on the IT primarily, and a vision for IIG secondly. Now I may be being too harsh here and Mark did say at the start that this was a 2 part session to a degree, with Rick and Jeetu’s in the pm session. I guess my problem is that IIG had the chance to set the tone right from the start, for Mark to do a short piece on his achievements and for the stage to be cleared for Rick to deliver the impact statements. Either the announcement was badly timed on the changes in position or somebody did not really consider the impact of not having Rick doing the majority of this session.

What made this worse is that prior to this session I had been to Rohit and Jeroen’s session on Architecture and had come out of that session with strong belief that IIG were making a major move to a new vision, the Keynote was a big letdown following that session.

In the keynote itself Mark introduced the 3 layer stack which I have mentioned previously. He reiterated the Mission was to “help customers get maximum leverage from information”. He also said EMC will be:

- cloud optimised;

- an Information Intelligence platform primarily composed of Case Management and Information Governance (note no note of ECM);

- a next generation UI framework;

Mark had 7 recommendations for IT people:

1. Reduce Opex;

2. Support User Choice;

3. Simplify Provisioning and User Experience;

4. Ensure Governance and Compliance;

5. Create and Leverage a 360 degree view on customers;

6. Force IT to move away from low value to more strategic services;

7. Look to IT for delivery of transformative business solutions.

We then had the usual invited guests, one customer and one analyst, before Whitney wrapped up.

As s disclaimer I must say I did not attend the afternoon keynote from Rick Devenuti and Jeetu Patel, so if the impact message was given there then my view on this is not complete. But actually I think that even if it had I feel this was a missed opportunity. Mark Lewis has no doubt put a lot of effort into EMC IIG and he deserved the recognition for his efforts, however in this Keynote that should have been the start and would have enabled Rick to really launch the new dawn of IIG. I wanted more on the vision and I wanted more on the plans to get there, the messages were too generic in my view and a number of them would have been applicable at many different software and hardware vendor presentations.

Its a real shame as I have found the conference since the keynote to be excellent and there is a real buzz about the new direction, unfortunately the buzz was not there as the main auditorium dispersed for lunch on the first day, it has grown in the time since then.