EMC World 2014 – Post Conference Thoughts

I’ve had a week now to gather my thoughts since EMC World, as well as to catch up on some sleep and get back into the UK timezone! Before the conference I posted about
3 things which I hoped I would find out more about so I’ll address those first:

Syncplicity – Clearly the rising star in the EMC IIG portfolio but the integration of the product into the rest of the brand is not yet there. Whenever Syncplicity was
pitched I still got the feeling its a new shiny product which is very good at what it does but is not fully integrated into the rest of the stack. I know it is
technically integrated but perception is as important as the technical aspects.

InfoArchive – This came across as one of the big plays from IIG, largely due to the compelling business case which can be generated for the product. The success
stories which were quoted were very compelling. The question of Pivotal remains though and while I did see it mentioned a few times as an area to investigate the
answer is not there yet. Having said that the impression which I came away with was that the product is seeing such strong momentum right now that its going to be
around for a few years.

Social and Collaboration – I was surprised to see the eRoom brand on the screen in the keynote, again its not because it is a bad product but more that its been
discussed as potential end of life for 10 years now. Despite a lack of, perceived, investment it remains part of the portfolio. I didn’t hear anything which suggested
that the Social and Collaboration space was an area which EMC would focus on.

So those are the things I was hoping to hear about, what did we actually hear about:

General – The theme of the conference was about how EMC can help customers manage the 2nd platform, bridge the gap to the 3rd platform and ultimately be the
Information ‘Fabric’ for the 3rd platform. Fabric’s my word and wasn’t used by EMC I should add! Pivotal was at the centre of this and in Joe Tucci’s keynote the
Pivotal brand was strong.

xCP – This is a product which I have followed for some time now and the information provided on xCP 2.1 whilst not completely new to me was still interesting and
highlights the advances EMC have made in the platform. At present this remains a 2nd platform play in EMC’s eyes.

InfoArchive – I’ve mentioned this already and this they see as the enabler for the bridge from 2nd to 3rd platform. Helping customers to move from the 2nd platform
through removing the applications but keeping the information.

APaaS – this was the new play from EMC. Well I say new play and a lot of the detail is new but some of the concepts have been kicking around for a while now, Next Generation Informatoin Server was something which was first touted back in Lisbon. Firstly, what is it:

APaaS

The idea is to move Content and Collaborative Apps into a true SaaS platform, with multi-tenancy and exposed on top of similar technology to the Pivotal stack, ultimately helping organisations to bring together their Data and Content Services. The focus is very much on solutions and apps. The strategy from EMC is not to release the platform but to build a number of content based solutions on the platform to help them develop the core services. The first of these is the Supplier Exchange.

This is a big move from EMC and while the people I heard were keen to stress this is not the end of Documentum I would envisage that if they get this right then in the future there will be much fewer customers using the traditional Documentum platform. But this takes time and as I said its been over 3 years since NGIS was first introduced. The tactic of releasing apps based on the platform before the platform itself will give the impression that things are moving quicker which is positive.

APaaS was my biggest takeaway from Momentum 2014 but some of the other snippets I heard/was interested in:

– some frustration and the lack of alignment between D2 and xCP, it would be much better if there was a true single UI;

– continued investment in Captiva and a continued push to get customers to exploit the capability in Captiva including Mobile Capture;

– a desire to move forward solutions on IIG technology which are more innovative, higlighted by the keynote and the impressive demo for Patient Care which was given in the keynote;

– a definite move to align things with Pivotal, APaaS above shows that but I understand there are other moves in place such as how InfoArchive aligns.

So on that last point, and one question which was mooted before the conference, was whether EMC were considering selling off IIG. My take in the short term is no but the alignment with Pivotal is a very strong signal of what might happen. If anything I don’t foresee a selling but a realignment within the EMC Federation which was a very strong message within the overall EMC World conference.

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.

ECM Web Services

Laurence has written an excellent post about fitting Sharepoint into the ECM picture.

The comments about the rewrite of eRoom are interesting and confirm thoughts which I am sure a number of us have had for some time. eRoom as it is does not have a future and EMC need to repurpose it and break down its features into a number of services which can be added on to the core Documentum products and then exposed through the clients. This started in the past with the Collaborative Services.

The killer in Laurence’s post is his dream of standard ECM Web Services definition. This should not be a dream and should be something we are moving to, but I am not sure it should be about plugging in an ECM platform to either Sharepoint or eRoom but more about exposing the ECM and Collaboration services which the products expose into whichever presentation layer the customer wishes to use. Note I am saying ECM and Collaboration services, both are required.

On a recent project we used Trac for our wiki and Subversion for our Config Management, this included code and documentation. If there had been better support for some of the config management services of Subversion which the wiki could have harnessed then we would have not had a slightly awkward UI to battle through to get to important documents. No reason why this could not have been through standard EMC Web Services.

When we start to consider some of these we will be moving much closer to the Web 2.0, SOA buzz words which are being touted much more. Something to ponder and think about no doubt.

Gartner Report

I’ve recently had the opportunity to read the latest vendor focus on EMC Documentum from Gartner. The key recommendations are around:

– look to EMC Documentum as a strategic partner capable of delivering true enterprise content management
– select your suppliers with care
– long term information management needs could be well addressed through EMC Documentum with their approach to ILM

Nothing startling there then, certainly the second point is one which should be advised of any similar processes.

The meat of the report focusses on areas which EMC Documentum are looking at:

Transactional Content Management – this is a big play into the FileNET area by Documentum and I agree that at first sight it is a credible alternative. My view is that Documentum will need to establish a foothold in this market and look to leverage their position as a true ECM partner with their other offerings to convince customers that their future lies with Documentum.

Collaboration – here the report picks up on one of my biggest bugbears with Documentum….the future of eRoom. Having first worked with the product nearly 3 years ago it was clear from the start that the eRoom product was a problem for Documentum. The technical architecture is vastly different from the core product set and the integration between the two products has been, thus far, poor in terms of end user experience. In fact I would go as far as to say that the recently released Sharepoint Services for Documentum appear to be more powerful than the Documentum/eRoom integrations so far released. Further to this there is my view that eRoom is a poor product for customisation; it is an extremely complex product to unpick and I would advise customers away from too much customisation. In fact this view was reiterated in a conversation with Documentum on a project I worked on 3 years ago. I fully concur with the report’s statement that it is time for EMC to address the confusion that exists with their Collaboration Strategy and how they work with Sharepoint and yet progress the eRoom product.

The report looks at other areas too, notably Interactive Content Management. Despite my comments above the report is generally positive and hits the right note in my opinion; of the vendors in the ECM space EMC/Documentum have the best coverage across the piece. The biggest weak area has been the one which they are addressing with Transactional Content Management.