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.

EMC Momentum 2009 – xCP Configure not Code

One of the goals I had in Athens was to be convinced about xCP. So far some of the messages I had heard up until the Tuesday afternoon had been positive and I was keen to attend a session about xCP to get more info.

This was being presented by Dan Ciruli the Principal Product Manager for xCP; there does seem to be a large number of people involved in the Product Management for xCP, it did confuse me a little.

Dan started by talking about why xCP is so different and although he did not say it directly the message I got was that it is not that different but an evolution or a change of perspective. There was then some talk about the justification of Case Management as the right direction for EMC to take; I’m already sold on this one.

Dan then went through the products which make up the xCP platform and touched on each briefly.

So what differentiates xCP from the crowd, these are the claims:

- Fully integrated solution from Capture, Process, Dispostion and including Reporting;

- Speed to development is 50% quicker (I’d like someone to back this up with facts, given that xCP is not a new product this does some like a bit of a stretch);

- Agile and Flexible; Easy to Build = Easy to Change.

Finally, and this is the best bit, Dan talked about the future of xCP and gave some ideas about xCP 2.0. There will be two point releases of xCP next year followed by the next major release in 2011 along with D7.

xCP 2.0 will be based on a number of things including:

- Extended Case Capability;

- Improved App Development;

- Vastly improved user experience;

Now my notes started to suffer a bit as Dan unveiled a lot of planned features including more use of Smart Containers, the ability to model relationship between objects, better roles, inherited properties, automatic document generation, increased collaboration and integrated capture. He also unveiled that they would be looking at a single integrated development environment. The new products, including the point releases, will be much more services focussed with proposed support for CMIS in 1.5.

Finally Dan showed a screenshot of xCP 2.0. This is clearly based on the CenterStage UI experience and looked extremely powerful. The screenshot was of a Claims based xCP implementation where claim details were displayed alongside a widget which showed the location of the incident via Google Maps.

All in all this was a presentation which covered a lot of existing ground in the first part but then the last 2-3 slides on the roadmap of xCP and planned features was where things took off. They really gave a flavour of how powerful xCP could become, and yes I was convinced.

EMC Momentum 2009 – Keynote

Whitney introduced the keynote, reinforcing the theme of ‘Inspired by the past…Primed for the future’, before handing the reins to Mark Lewis.

Mark set the tone by reinforcing that the future is bright for EMC CM&A. He quoted an example of his personal experience of visiting a doctor and having to complete the same details multiple times. He then talked about Business Value, and the need and desire for EMC to drive Business Value. He then introduced the three pillars of the strategy for EMC CM&A:

- Value. Covered by Access and Process.

- Efficiency. Covered by Governance, Access and Process.

- Compliance. Covered by Governance and Access.

He also talked about a move from Application Centric to Information Centric, and a move from Static Placement to Dynamic Movement, see my earlier post on the Future of ECM to see my views on this.

Back to the earlier themes of Governance, Access and Process. Mark introduced these as the three main product groups in CM&A.

Governance

These are the products covering Archiving, EDRM and Search/eDiscovery.

Access

The theme of this group is having it your way and includes the stages of Capture, Communication, Collaboration, Context and Cloud.

Process

This is about building the custom solutions, interestingly Mark talked about Content Enabled Applications, note no Vertical in the title. This is where xCP fits in, Mark described it as the Case Process Platform. He claimed this is the first for the industry, I’m not sure this is true but it could be a major step forward for EMC.

 

Mark then handed over to John O’Melia who conducted an interview with the CIO of Eurobank, but the main chunk of the session was Mark’s message. Mark’s message was clear and the alignment of the products was clear. He showed a lot of belief in the future and especially in xCP, I left the session needing to find out more about how XCP was going to be executed.

EMC Momentum 2009 – D6.5 Architecture Overview

I’m going to try and get through the backlogs of write ups which I have, starting with this session which was hosted by Victor Spivak on the Tuesday morning. Firstly I must criticise the scheduling, or rather room scheduling. Victor’s sessions are notorious for their high attendance so why put this on in one of the smaller rooms, there was no spare space!

Victor talked about the themes which drive the architecture, namely:

- SOA

- Performance/Scalability

Victor did say at the start that some of the session would be a repeat of last year’s, fortunately I did not attend that but I have looked at some of the details which Victor talked about.

On SOA Victor talked about the need to remove the chattiness of DFC and the addition of numerous new services for D6.5. REST will be supported post 6.5, possible 6.6 release in 2010. XML and JSON representations will be made available. EMC will not try and take sides in the SOAP vs REST debate and will support both.

CMIS was discussed and Victor talked about the disappointment of JSR170 and that being the reason behind the lack of Documentum support for it. He talked about the goals of CMIS, all publicly available, and how CMIS can be considered the Esperanto of the ECM world. However he did say that the current release is best served by the Use Case of a repository explorer without too much complex functionality.

He then talked about the Centerstage model and revealed that xCP 2.0 will be based on this, more to come on this in another post. However that is not the only client approach they will follow, note Mediaspace is Flex based. He also raised the interesting idea of using Spaces in Centerstage to support multi-tenancy in the cloud, I’ll have to check some details on this but could be interesting.

On Performance and Scalability, when I stopped being annoyed at the guy who was on his phone!, Victor talked about High Volume Services and the concept of batching citing the example of creating 100 objects in the docbase and the number of api calls this generates. This can be vastly reduced with the concept of batching. Victor also talked about the concept of Lightweight SysObjects.

Next up was the subject of search. Now I had heard from a colleague about Documentum Search Services and Victor talked about it briefly, he did point out the sessions which would cover the details. DSS will use the same Index Agent as the current Search solution but will use xDB. (I had heard from another session that this may complicate the install, I’ll need to check the notes on this one). EMC will not force customers to move away from FAST and will support DSS and FAST running side by side for the forseeable future.

Victor also talked about the 100k user benchmark and the impressive results this showed, he compared this with MOSS 2010 which allegedly will have a limit of 30m objects per repository; for my current project this would not see us through to the Olympics in 2012!

Finally Victor talked a little on Virtual Content Management, which is the use of Federated Records and then briefly talked about Operation Customisation. This is to cover situations where BOF would not apply and the example Victor quoted is when a user wants to import a zip file and then on import for the contents to be extracted to a folder. Another example is a Recycle Bin. Interestingly Victor suggested they would be interested to hear of scenarios which customers/partners would like covered off and they would look at these.

Overall then a good session, a lot of info was already available but then this was a 6.5 architecture. Victor is a good presenter who is clearly passionate about his subject area. As an intro to more detailed sessions this worked well, if only I had the time to get to the other sessions!

EMC Momentum 2009 – Day 1 Part 2

Following lunch there was an opportunity for Partners to decide to attend a technical session or a business session, based on discussions with colleagues of mine I attended the business session and I was pleasantly surprised. First up was a session on Public Sector. This focussed on the high expectations of our customers which sometimes work against the budgets which they have to deliver against these expectations.

Then we came back to the xCP subject. I admit to being, shall I say, reserved about the value of xCP but this session crystalised in my mind how this will work for EMC, for their partners and their customers. For some time now it has been a common criticism of the EMC CM&A products that they provide an excellent platform for building solutions but the cost, effort and time involved in building these is greater than their competitors. This is clearly their move to resolve this, the points which resonated with me were the following moves:

Technical –> Business

Tactical –> Strategy

Project –> Programme

In summary, it is about putting the product closer to the business value which customers are focussed on.

To bring this through to the message on xCP we then had a presentation on an ECM Roadmap Strategy (ERS) which reinforced the need to answer three pivotal questions:

- Why are you doing it?

- What does success look like?

- How are you going to get there?

In general this was a good, knowledgeable description of the concept of the journey customers need to take; although the journey when it came to systems development looked altogether too much like waterfall for my liking, but that could just have been the slides!

 

We then had a presentation about how EMC Professional Services are trialling the xCP programme and how solutions can be taken by partners through this to achieve a solution which can be repeatable and saleable. Again building on the earlier messages about business value this is very much XCP as a solution platform rather than Documentum as a technical platform. Something which I had perhaps overlooked was on the theme of xCelerators, the key components of the xCP platform; the message here was very much that the xCelerators need not just be code, they can be other artifacts too including Best Practice guides and Sample Applications. Whilst I agree with this point I think it is important that the xCelerators do involve a level of components which can be taken by customers and partners and deployed, with some configuration, to meet their specific needs. This was one of my concerns about the current xCP release but I believe that things are moving in the right direction.

So how do these solutions get built, well here’s the neat thing from EMC perspectives, they are proposing to build these as joint ventures with their partners. Partners need to take the propositions to EMC who will then churn out a more packaged, repeatable solution which can be applied to other similar customers. In principle this is a great idea but I also understand the potential problems where Partners may be reluctant to release IP into the wider Partner world. Also, as mentioned in the session, there is a need to put in place a commercial and ongoing support model which meets the needs of all the stakeholders, most importantly the customers.

Overall I came away from the session better informed about the direction of xCP and reassured that there is recognition within EMC of where they are on the journey and the work they need to do to progress this further.

Day 1 done and dusted on the sessions and this was a much better organised Partner day than last year in Prague. So far, so good and now a time to take a walk round the Exhibition and meet some old, and new, friends.

Momentum 2009

Its Saturday night and everything is just about packed for the trip to Athens for EMC Momentum 2009. It will be a long today tomorrow to get there, leave the house at 8:45 and arrive in the hotel around 19:00, so hopefully the sessions will be worth it.

I’m going to attempt to write as many posts and tweets as possible in the next week, some posts will need to wait until the week after and some things will just get missed as I have a lot of things lined up in the next few days outside the actual sessions.

I’ll try and get notes up quickly in the day or so afterwards and then post something more reflective later on. I won’t be posting things which are told to me in confidence but will just comment on the public aspects of the conference.

Keep coming back for updates during the week and do not forget to visit me at twitter.com/leecsmith.