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.

Me and Content Management

Pie seems to prompt a number of my blog posts on here, actually good that someone can initiate activity and spur me on to provide comment! Anyway, his latest prod has been on how we got involved in Content Management.

I actually started my IT career developing a set of workflow components based on Oracle technology, both Forms and some server side procedures. One of the implementations of this ‘product’ was in a pharmaceutical company within the manufacturing division. We implemented an application for tracking incidents in the plant to ensure they were fully investigated and any corrective action taken. As part of this various parties in the process would produce reports in the Document Management system they used, Saros Document Manager. I was very loosely involved in tha area of the system as I concentrated on the process design and implementation, nevertheless it was a start. (N.B. for those that don’t know FileNET acquired Saros).

I then worked on an eCommerce project for an online music store, well before Amazon! Whilst not Document Management this taught me the need for some of the basic Web Content Management services such as staging, approvals and content expiry…in effect we were building this functionality into the eCommerce application.

Anyway a change in career left me joining a company who specialised in Document Management implementations, amongst other things. To integrate me into the company I was sent to Sweden for 6 months where I learned an awful lot under the tutelage of some very knowledgeable, and patient, experts. The product they used the most was Documentum, and welcome to the world of RightSite…oh how life has moved on.

Interestingly I was asked to look at a new concept, this was in 2000/2001, Microsoft had released a product named Tahoe and I was asked to look at a new offering for the company called ‘Webben som Arbeitsplan’, or Web as a Workplace. We even built some integration between Tahoe and Documentum which we achieved through Web Services and the, at the time, emerging SOAP standards. Funny that 8 years later I’m still speaking to customers about the best way to achieve that!