Blog Trends

I was just having a look at some of the stats on my blog and thought I would have a look at the stats for all time…..just which of my posts have seen the most hits. The top 5 is as follows:

Gartner Report
EMC Documentum and MOSS
Liferay
Documentum Records Manager
Documentum Archive Services for Sharepoint

Interestingly the numbers are quite different, Gartner Report having nearly 3 times as many hits as Documentum Archive Services for Sharepoint. Of the top 5 the Liferay one is the one which surprises me the most, okay it is a detailed post but I did not think the subject matter would catch people’s attention. The others can be attributed, largely, to two keywords Gartner and Sharepoint.

Even more interesting is the bottom 5:

Momentum
iGoogle
Information Architecture
Opportunities
Natives and Immigrants

The thing that strikes me is the brevity of the titles and the lack of product names in them. A couple of those posts still stand, at least in my mind, as valid and interesting, a couple are very brief and would probably be better served by Twitter (which I was not using at the time).

What to take from this….? Make sure the posts are titled well and use that to ‘bring the punters in’. However I don’t use this as a means to bring the punters in, this is a forum to put information and insights which may or may not be useful to people…just hitting home with one will be enough for me.

BTW I’ll be monitoring the hits on this post, if I’m right this will be near the bottom 5!

EMC Momentum 2009 – Summary

So its nearly a week since the event in Athens closed and I’ve had enough time to gather my thoughts, and write up some of the sessions, so it is time to summarise the 3 days which I spent there.

To put the conference into perspective I think we need to understand the market and past 12 months of EMC CM&A.

ECM Market

SharePoint continues to be the young pretender breaking into the market. They have no doubt increased their market share in the past 12 months, no figures to back this up unfortunately, and the release of SharePoint 2010 will be a major milestone in the marketplace in the next 12 months as it increases its DM and EDRM functionality. IBM and FileNet continue to be a confused product and player in the market, the traditional strength of BPM in the product is diluted by the integration into IBM and the Process Server product. OpenText remain strong and their relationship with SAP will see them continue to play strong in this area, whilst some of their SharePoint and Microsoft products are attractive. Their big strength though is their solution focus and they are very good at going to market with solutions which focus on business value. Adobe are making a strong play in the market with their forms product and the tie up with Alfresco is certainly interesting. The Open Source market will continue to grow.

Where does this leave EMC CM&A?

I believe they are still strong, going into Athens I believed they were in a strong position, coming out I believe the steps they are taking will ensure they remain a leader.

Momentum Summary

The messages I came away from Momentum with were the three new groups within CM&A:

- Information Governance

- Information Access

- Process

Of the three I see Process as being the one which can lead EMC to success, with Governance not being far behind. Why?

Information Access – of the three groups I believe this one will be impacted most by SharePoint 2010. Organisations will become less likely to look to another product to manage their documents when SharePoint can be considered good enough. When it comes to collaboration SharePoint is strong, no doubt about that, yes it has flaws but it is a product which does a job well. At Momentum 2008 EMC’s message was all about Centerstage; this year I did not get much of a feel for that (although I did spend more time on xCP sessions). Plus Centerstage has been delayed a number of times, I just think it will be a hard sell to push this as a Collaboration play within an organisation who are remotely interested in SharePoint.

Information Governance – the acquisition of Kazeon could be key to the success of this group. EMC can now deliver a compelling message about managing records in-situ, finding information to assist in meeting compliance needs and also about moving information to the appropriate storage tier. eDiscovery has been banded around in the market a lot in the past 2 years but I see this becoming more and more prevalent as organisations begin to act on the risk threats they perceive.

Process – as I said above, this one caught my eye the most. I went into the conference unconvinced about xCP, and to be honest version 1.0 is still nothing more than a collection of products, no matter what the marketing hype. However the ambitions which EMC have for this could really start to drive some opportunities. As I said above OpenText are very good at selling business solutions, the xCP programme where partners and EMC develop business solutions together, will put EMC in a position to challenge OpenText on a level playing field, except the BPM capability of Documentum is greater than that of OpenText. Also by moving the xCP platform onto the Centerstage paradigm it will enable more composite solutions to be built as this is much more aligned with Portals. From personal experience the ability to show Documentum information/content alongside other important information is something customers do wish for and the solution until now has been to bespoke this using a Portal solution or something similar. Also by improving some of the underlying architecture to support things such as relational objects will make developing these applications so much easier and instead allow us as SI’s to focus on the business value of the solution rather than how we relate a vehicle to a claim.

 

Was it worth attending the event?

Yes, definitely. Again this was an excellent networking event and I have made a number of contacts which I will work with over the coming weeks and months. Its also nice to catch up with some old faces such as Andrew, it would be great if Pie could find his way to europe one year although it could be said that I need to get stateside at some time. There is a lot more which goes on at these events than the presentations and these sometime become as important as the session. I enjoyed the news on xCP and will just have to be patient for this to be realised, if EMC can execute the plans in this area successfully, and importantly, in a timely fashion then I can see the product set breaking out of the pure EDRM mould and starting to play in areas of business where they have sometimes struggled.

CMIS

Its almost like last week’s news, and there certainly has been some activity on this front on some of the blogs out there, e.g. Pie, BMOC, Craig and John Newton amongst others. In case you are not aware, this is what has sparked the sudden activity, CMIS.

From the link above there is some information on the focus of the first version of the spec, and it is very much early days:

“The initial set of deliverables will be targeted for the following use cases:

  • Collaborative Content Applications
  • Portals leveraging Content Management repositories
  • Mashups

The following use cases should be able to be supported by CMIS Domain Model and Bindings, but are not primary drivers:

  • Workflow and BPM-centric applications utilizing Content
  • Archival Applications
  • Compound and Virtual Documents
  • Electronic and Legal Discovery

The following use cases are out of scope for the initial set of deliverables:

  • Records Management and Compliance
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Web Content Management
  • Subscription and Notification Services”

I find this quite interesting, especially the move of RM to a later release. I do need to read the spec, printed it out today, but I hope that the minimum that it deals with are the Basic Content services. I can see the logic behind the drivers re Portal and Mash Ups, this is where we would expect current integration pain to be but I would think RM is such an important factor in the current climate that it would need early consideration. However I would not be surprised if one of the reasons for not having this in early is, to put it crudely, it is hard. I don’t mean necessarily implementation is hard but getting concensus on what would constitute RM is difficult with the various standards out there, e.g. DOD, MoReq2, etc…. There is also the question of whether compliance to these adds value to the customer, interesting discussions to be had. I’ll read the specs and post again.

Taking Centerstage and some words on MOSS

Documentum have announced that Magellan will now be named Centerstage, not sure about the name but it sure beats Magellan.

I was fortunate enough to see a demonstration/presentation a couple of weeks ago and it is very interesting. In fact I know of customers who are taking notice and starting to consider whether they should rush into a SharePoint integration with this coming down the line.

Speaking of which I’ve had some time looking at SharePoint recently and some quick findings are below. Its not the first time I have looked at it as I was the lead on a company intranet which was built on an early version of SharePoint but it has moved on since then.

- The UI is great, no doubt about that, it is so easy to chop and change the views and make everything easy for the end user.

- Usability, as a result, is no problem….I can imagine the cost of training is minimal compared to the problems with Webtop.

- Starting workflows is remarkably similar to in Webtop.

- Building workflows is a pain, unless you buy a 3rd party product prepare to get your hands dirty, very dirty.

- Audit capability….mmmmm. Have a good look at this, its not what it may appear at first sight.

- Lists, nice and easy…great feature…just don’t go over 2000 entries.

- Search, poor but then they have now got FAST so expect improvements.

SharePoint Workflow

I try not to pick on a product and the weaknesses it has but I’ve spent the past week working with SharePoint and in

particular its workflow capability and its integration with InfoPath. For a while I thought it was me being too picky and

relating too much to my Documentum experience but I came out from that slumber, some of this is basic workflow and the fact

that SharePoint does not do it or does not do it well was a bit of an eye opener for me. So what’s my beef:

Auditing – support for Auditing appears to be very poor, in fact when an instance of a Workflow is completed the audit trail is removed, or rather the association of the audit trail to the item. Now there are a number of solutions to this, one suggested one is to create a List to store the audit entries. Fine, but that does involve some coding to get the solution to write to the List…er not good. Then you uncover that Lists start to creak at about 200 entries….er not good at all. Auditing is a basic requirement of workflow and if a product does not support this then in a matter of fact way then its not worth its place on the list of products.

Forms – so we’re using Infopath forms to render forms. We’re not using MOSS, we’re using WSS. We wanted to have an Infopath form be displayed for a task which updates a data object, but we do not want to access the full data object…its unnecessary. One would think this is a straightforward requirement, oh no. In fact as we are not using MOSS only WSS, but with Forms Server, the tasks cannot be presented as Infopath forms…they need to be built as aspx forms; I can see my development work increasing all the time here. Then it becomes clear that SharePoint does not really support the idea of forms updating other objects, or parts therein, the full form should be displayed. I have to say I still doubt whether my reading of this is correct….but if it is, another black mark.

All in all it has been a less than positive experience of using SharePoint workflow. If I’ve misunderstood something above then drop me a note and I will correct it but unless there is a very big eureka moment I won’t be running to a customer with SharePoint as a solution to some of their business processing problems!

MOSS and Documentum

MOSS and Documentum

I’ve had some time lately to think more about the question of integration, or unification, between MOSS and Documentum; or any other ECM system for that matter. This came about as a result of a couple of situations where I found organisation looking closely at how to integrate the two producs; plus some reading of Andrew Chapmans blog.

Taking a big step backwards for a while I started to get a little concerned the way things are moving here, it feels as though there is a great deal of momentum behind the movement to have both systems operating together. Is this really the best way to serve an organisation’s requirements, in fact what are the organisation requirements?

It is not pushing things too hard to suggest that an organisation would like to capture, store, manage, use, distribute and possibly archive some of their content. I doubt there is any requirement to have these things met by having two repositories of information so what is it that one gives that the other does not?

MOSS

One of the key arguments in the pro MOSS brigade is the UI and the level of collaboration available within MOSS. I’ve asked a few people a number of times and if anyone out there has any suggestions but what collaborative features are people looking for which MOSS provides which Documentum cannot? With regards UI, if people move down the approach of Webparts then at the end of the day the UI they use to access Documentum through MOSS is the same as using Webtop basically.

Documentum

The weight here is usually behind the issues of compliance and scalability. Compliance is something which MOSS is starting to deal with and I expect it to be comparable in the near future. Scalability remains a concern for MOSS implementations, however I’d expect this to be resolved in the next 12-24 months.

Perhaps I am missing something here but it does seem that the approaches being proposed are not actually going to solve the business problems but will instead justify the need for having two ECM systems when one will do. We should be evaluating the systems against the requirements of the business and deciding which one is the best fit.