Momentum 2008: Developing Web 2.0 with Centerstage

This was a more technical session than the previous one I posted about, really looking to get more under the hood of Centerstage and look at some of its key concepts. Some of the concepts include:

- Space, e.g. an eRoom, i.e. an area where a group of people can work together. Each space appears as a tab, much like tabbed browsing (Why not just use the tabbed browsing functionality in the browser then and not have the look repeated?)

- Page, a collection of content, attachments, widgets. It is a composite view of ‘objects’. Pages can be templated for reuse. Pages themselves can be versioned.

- Section, a collection of pages within a Space. These also can have templates to ensure commonality.

- Tags, each object can be tagged. These are implemented through relationships and thus are not keywords, this also helps in terms of management of your tags. There are views available which are driven by tags, e.g. I can see all information for a given tag, implemented like tag clouds. I can also select which tags are important to me thus reducing the clutter in the tag cloud.

We then moved on to the architecture which was of real interest. A large block diagram was put on the screen which showed the various layers in the Centerstage architecture. The points I took from this are:

- provide clear separation in the layers;

- use of DHTML and other RIA toolkits;

- UI based on a combination of RCMP (Rich Content Management Platform), ExtJS and DWR (Direct Web Remoting);

- interaction with the core of Documentum through services, WS*;

- DWR is a custom protocol for Java <-> Javascript;

- ExtJs gives no server side page generation, exact version was 2.2;

- No JSPs;

- widgets can be developed and added fairly easily;

- widgets provide customisation but can also be done through XML configuration and some policy objects;

- widgets will tend to be a collection of .js and .css, but flex and silverlight will also be supported;

- views are a grouping within a tab, these are exposed as a ‘chiclet’ – made me chuckle anyway!

- flows through the UI are defined by actions which are a flow through the containers, defined in xml on the server;

Other things to note in the session:

- content in Centerstage will be exposed through Webtop, but the look will be slightly different;

- the product was compared to the tenets of Web 2.0, unfortunately not the tenets I would have used which are SLATES

Overall this is an exciting product, I think there will be opportunities for it but as I said previously it is a crowded marketplace. It is a big shift in technology for Documentum and I wonder how long they will stick with WDK before they move to this approach for all their clients….its something new for the techies to get their teeth into and we will have a couple of years when we need to be proficient in WDK and RCMP, which is the label they gave it.

The last thing I will say on this though is that I believe this is the nearest EMC will get to a Portal, without purchasing a Portal product. Not a J2EE Portal container but the paradigm of widgets is very similar to that of widgets and I can imagine users asking to see some custom widgets which interact with other systems such as an ERP system or MOSS. The Portal word was never used by EMC and this is not their published approach but it does not take too much brainpower to see the analogy.

Momentum 2008: Introduction to Centerstage

My first open session of Momentum and an opportunity to hear more on Centerstage. Previously I have read about Centerstage and had a few discussions with people, I was hoping to build on this knowledge. For those that don’t Centerstage is the new UI from Documentum, it is not a replacement for webtop but is more in the eRoom space. It is close to Sharepoint in its style.

An introduction was given on how the way we work has changed. Changes in the way we interact on the web are feeding into the enterprise. People are always connected and expect to receive information in a timely fashion. The information which they receive should be managed in a CMS.

Centerstage has been produced to promote sharing, to promote people working in a community and to overcome the problem of information silos.

Some of the key points from the demo:

- the UI is very configurable;

- ease of use was a primary objective;

- the new faceted search looks great, this lets the user perform a search and then narrow this down further through facets…basically sets of metadata;

- one such metadata item is the topic, this looks like keywords but more on that in a later session;

- it includes the concept of a widget which can be added to the page/site (more on these later too!);

- pages consist of a mix of widgets and inline content;

- Pro version will include Public Spaces (need to find out more about these);

- the product is about providing composite views of information;

- everything is RSS subscribeable;

- everything can be tagged, these are implemented as relationships;

- Pro will include a greater choice of available widgets;

- quick view of the mobile solution, looked very much like a twitter interface;

- solution plans for customisations, called extension points;

- they introduced the new layer for interoperability, named Rich Content Management Platform (RCMP);

Overall this really was an introduction session, I’ll attend the more technical ones to get a better idea of how it works. I was really impressed with the UI but this is a move into a crowded marketplace for EMC, this is going up against a number of others mainly MOSS. The big thing that struck me in the session is that this is as near as EMC will get to having a Portal, unless they ever do purchase a Portal vendor. The concept of widgets is very similar to Portlets and will enable integration with other systems…even more so when considering the use of CMIS as an integration layer protocol. The session was very well attended which demonstrates the level of interest in the product, I’m not sure we will see much in 2009 but towards the end of year and into 2010 I think we might see some interesting options around this area.

Momentum 2008: Keynote

The keynote this year was delivered by Whitney Tidmarsh, VP for Marketing, with a little help from some of her friends. The format was a TV chat show with Whitney taking on the role of the host. Whitney opened with a 5 minute whirlwind of the past 12 months with comments about Barack Obama, the Beijing Olympics, the Global Economy and Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni.

Her first guest was John O’Melia, VP for EMEA, who gave an introduction and a summary of where EMC CMA are, note there was no use of the word Documentum. John portrayed a positive picture of the business and suggested good growth for CMA an an increasing share of the marketplace. He also talked about some of the things which have happened in the past 12 months including the acquisition of Dokumentum Services, the Russian SI, the acquisition of Document Sciences, the Documentum output product and the release of 6.5. John then set out some of his ambitions for 2009 including better partnering, and a focus on Solution Frameworks for improved return for customer.

Next up was the meat of the keynote, Mark Lewis, President of CMA. The core of his talk was on Information Intelligence and the four pillars which he sees supporting this:

Convergence – bring information together, assimilating information from different business areas and of different types

Compliance – this will continue to drive the needs of customers to adopt ECM, in fact Mark predicted a rise of this compliance as a result of the global downturn (a view which is shared by many people)

Context – how information is important but its usefulness is driven by the context in which in it is being presented and being consumed

Community – this was around how communities now get formed in many different ways, very much around the Facebook style of community, and how the EMC products can support these communities to ensure they can work effectively in support of business goals

Mark also touched on the global downturn and made a commitment that this is the time to invest, through investment now he believes EMC, their partners and their customers will be in the right position to ride the upturn as and when that happens. Building on John’s earlier talk about performance in 2008 this was a confident message from EMC. Mark touched on a number of other areas as well including some of the new products which EMC have including Centerstage.

The session then took a bizarre twist with the introduction of a UK based singer who was looking to make his mark in Europe, Lewis Dixon. He did a quick song and then left a sea of bemused faces.

The Elite sponsors, Accenture, then had a chance to do a presentation and this was done by their CEO of Information Management, Royce Bell. 

Finally Whitney wrapped up by revealing the destination for next year’s event, Athens. All in all a good keynote if a little different; it was a full auditorium and the audience appeared to enjoy it.

Momentum 2008: Day 1

Day One at Momentum let me focus on Partners with a series of presentations to the partners, be they SIs, ISVs or companies with an OEM relationship. The themes from the day were:

- Solution Frameworks. Big focus for 2009 is for EMC to deliver the vertical solution frameworks which customers can exploit to really bring business benefit. A good example here is a Case Management solution framework, expected to ship in 2008! This will introduce a number of ready built objects and UI features on top of core Documentum which will move the platform nearer to the line of business applications which the customers will gain their benefit from. There will be a number of these frameworks throughout 2009 and sometimes they will be backed up by sample business applications, e.g. Legal Case Management for the Case Management option. This is definitely something for us to look at.

- Quality. Release 6.5 was a major milestone for Documentum as the number of Level 1 defects was reduced from previous releases. This was achieved through improved processes including automated testing and a more agile approach to the product development.

- Complexity. Deployment has sometimes been hard, the new model is to make this easy and tests have proven that the typical install of Documentum has been reduced from 2 hours to around 30 minutes with the introduction of a concept called Express Stacks. Basically the core platform, or essentials, is installed and then vertical stacks can be plugged into it:

Innovation. Building on the Solution Frameworks by partnering better EMC believe they can really show benefit to customers and get them to see ROI much quicker and much greater.

Some of the Technology Initiatives which were discussed during the day include (note these are in no order and when the subject came up twice, I’ve included it below twice to show the popular ones)

SaaS. EMC really see some growth here and have a good diagaram which shows the difference between the location of the Information, or the Repository, and the Application, or the Business Logic. They are actively seeking hosting partners for this and when this is sorted I would expect a new, and probably complicated, addition to the price book. I hope it is not complicated though as this could be a positive move by EMC.

CMIS. Point 1, when asked only 20% of the audience had heard of CMIS. I was a bit disappointed in this as the recent announcements were noted in a number of places. The first time this came up was very much a beginners guide, largely due to the lack of knowledge. I won’t repeat that but the interesting point is that they expect to have a release of the product which is CMIS compliant in mid 2009. They have already trialled some of this in sessions with the other contributors and this really sounds like a positive area.

Virtual Repository Management. This introduces the concept of managing other, third party repositories with Documentum policies. e.g. Content in Sharepoint being subjected to Retention Policies from Documentum.

Next Generation WDK. Moving to a Web 2.0 platform, WDK is now 10 years old and things have moved considerably in that time. The architecture will be unveiled but will be based on a Rich Content Management Platform (RCMP). Will be fully supported in the tooling, i.e. expect that to mean Composer.

Captiva. New releases to come, making it more service based. Next release is English only but multilingual to come.

Document Sciences. Will maintain the focus on the product as a standalone but will also integrate it into Documentum, as two different routes.

CMIS. More talk on CMIS, this time to say an implementation is available now for the Web Services interface. Not checked myself but something to look for on EDN.

Open SW Initiative. EMC have listened to what people have said and will make software more readily available for the techies to download and try out and possibly even provide a more collaborative approach to releases.

XML. Listened to a talk on the xDB but to be honest the information was nothing new on what is already available!

 

Lots there and more to come……