Documentum – Momentum EMC World 2014 Recap – Some bunts, hits as well as some swings

In talking about our overall thoughts of EMC World and Momentum 2014, I thought I would resurrect our baseball analogy from where we felt Documentum was too often swinging for the fences with grandiose product plans and relationships that were turning into more strikeouts than runs.  As we mentioned in 2013, we were impressed with the new focus on more practical product development plan and roadmaps that were being accomplished.

Momentum 2014 – Building a Bridge to the Third Platform

Rather than review Rick Devenuti’s keynote, there is a pretty good 5 minute summary of the 2nd Platform (what you have now) and movement to the third platform (cloud) by Rohit available on YouTube.

Momentum 2014 – Bunts, Walks and Singles

Any play that puts a player on base is good.  As it relates to Documentum, doing the small things, like announcing Webtop 6.8 for 4th quarter 2014, we feel are good things that keep Documentum moving.  We were impressed that, in the various roadmap presentations, all of the products from Documentum continue to evolve logically in small steps.  Some highlights:

  • Webtop 6.8 – Already mentioned but our customers were worried about having to pay extended support on a product that barely requires any support.  Giving clients the flexibility to stay with what they have rather than force clients to D2 or xCP based on a support model is the right decision.
  • Captiva – we liked that addition of being able to capture documents from a mobile source.  Not sure how many clients will take advantage of it, but it is a step in extending the infrastructure.
  • D2 – As we pointed out in our roadmap post, email integration was added and seemed fairly intuitive.  Ellen was impressed with what she saw in the life sciences presentations.  Nothing major but a good single.
  • DEMA – See our write-up.  It has evolved and we like the upcoming delta migration focus.  We would probably say this is a bunt (maybe even sacrifice bunt for Life Sciences) as it is still only available as a consulting solution.  Issues we’ve identified include an inability to use DEMA for ongoing migrations, migrations from Documentum, as well as an approach for xPlore environments.  (author’s note – we are probably biased here given OpenMigrate).
  • Syncplicity – Our clients generally haven’t embraced Syncplicity but we were impressed with the demo and vision.  We go back a long way with Jeetu, the product manager, so we are happy for his success.

Momentum 2014 – Double – InfoArchive

Ellen and I were both impressed with InfoArchive and saw it as a great extension of Documentum’s brand and capabilities.  Documentum itself was never really suited for just throwing anything at it for archival.  On the surface, this new product makes sense for Documentum since storing large amounts of data makes sense for EMC and something that leverages the strength of the two companies.

The core of the offering is based on xDB, the XML database that was obtained with the xHive procurement back in 2007.  Like other solutions, it seems to have been developed from the Documentum consulting group rather than product engineering.  We would say that is a good focus in that some of the offerings that have come from consulting (example: SharePoint Connector) have been well thought out based on client involvement.

Momentum 2014 – Single – Life Sciences

Summary presented below – full post available here

EMC has definitely shown a re-commitment to their original customer base. There is an entire track at EMC World dedicated to Life Sciences.  The D2 solution sounds intriguing, but we still feel have some hesitancy for the following reasons:

  • When asked about clients in production, exact numbers were not disclosed.  But it is our understanding  that there are no life science clients currently in production.
  • Cost – This feels like an expensive solution. D2 license cost + D2 solution costs + Migration Costs – all of which can only be done with Documentum Consulting.
  • For better and worse clients have customized Webtop and other solutions to meet their individual needs. We struggle with mature clients paying the conversion costs and “giving up functionality” for a new release.  While I am sure many of these customizations can be removed with configuration settings, I wonder what flexibility am I giving up in moving to an architecture that doesn’t allow for any flexibility outside of the designed framework and is it worth the considerable effort and cost to get there.
  • Crowded Market for Some Solutions – Some of these solutions are in already crowded markets. We would recommend waiting to see how these solutions are adopted before jumping on board.

One item of note from Rick’s Keynote, at about 13:26 into the presentation, he mentioned that the “to help our clients get a better ROI, we have reduced our pricing on our compliance suite by almost half ”.  We were unclear if that included the life sciences solution suite.

From discussions with clients before and after EMC World, it is a lack of trust in Documentum in regards to life sciences, particularly by the clients that have purchased DCM or FirstDocs in the past.

Momentum 2014 – Foul Ball – Energy and Engineering

We can’t really call it a strike-out as we saw some potential but the strategy seems very haphazard.  From our review we saw:

  • Content Bridge – this is a migration tool that arose out of the Trinity Purchase.  Our understanding is that it, along with supporting components, are Visual Basic as well as some Webtop.  (Author note – not a lot of detail here since the presentation was not technical)
  • Documentum Capital Projects and Documentum Asset Operations – These are currently Webtop Solutions.
  • Compliance – similar to life sciences, this is a D2 based solution.
  • EMC Supplier Exchange – The newest offering based on the 3rd Platform.  Unlike other offerings, we found the product name, EMC Supplier Exchange, different than the EMC Documentum Capital Projects as well as EMC Documentum Asset Operations.  This is the first offering on the “3rd Platform” as mentioned in the keynote.

While it is messy, it does seem that Documentum consulting, with the infusion of Trinity, is getting some traction in understanding the space.  Just can’t call it a hit right now as it seems to be scattered along different platforms with no common theme.

Momentum 2014 – Big Swing – Architecture – APaaS – 3rd Platform Buildout

We would say the architecture approach for APaaS (Application Platform as a Service) seems like the right approach and, from discussions we had, see Documentum pushing for it to become Documentum 8.  As we mentioned in our review, the architecture is based on Pivotal, an EMC spin-out being led by former VMware chief Paul Martiz and a rising star in the EMC family.  While we are impressed with the approach to redo the back-end, we think of it as a big swing to hit a home run rather than a single or double.

As in past big swings with CenterStage, Cisco and Box partnership from 2011 that ended with strikeouts, we thought in hindsight the architecture had the feel of a whitepaper EMC World presentation rather than a real product plan just yet.  Some points that made us lean toward the whitepaper included:

  • No product timeframes or roadmaps – very similar to other product presentations that died after EMC World.
  • No client demand – we don’t know any clients that are begging for Documentum to rewrite the back end.  Given many client’s stability issues and experience with DFS , a first attempt to move away from some of the old C++ code of Documentum, most clients lean away from anything that could reduce the stability of the Documentum back-end.

Some other points in regards to the architecture worth considering:

  • It will be based on REST Web Services.  This is not DFS (D2 and xCP) which still runs on the DFC and is SOAP-based so both of those tools would require a major update to work on the new platform.   We would anticipate that Webtop would never function on REST.
  • It is based on xDB’s XML database.  While this was hot back in 2007 for the xHive purchase, XML has lost a lot of currency due to a major shift towards JSON and JavaScript by developers.

The core of the architecture is based on xDB (Documentum owned) and Pivotal (EMC owns 84%).  The market is evolving many alternatives including IBM, SAP and Amazon Web Services.   Other evolving approaches that might address the APaaS space Documentum is targeting could include various options including Hadoop, AWS S3, MongoDB, Cassandra……. with the effort of the Amazon’s and Google’s of the world, along with open source developers, will a paid offering from EMC make sense?

TSG Product Alignment

We attend EMC World each year not only to help prepare our clients but to also align our own products based on EMC directions.  Our initial thoughts include:

  • OpenMigrate –  We think OpenMigrate is still positioned well when compared to DEMA.  DEMA is focused on a migration to Documentum by Documentum consulting.  OpenMigrate can be used by non-TSG resources and clients and can be used for migrations to/from Documentum as well as other repositories.  DEMA focus is on speed by going to the database layer, OpenMigrate leverages the APIs but focuses on a threaded/delta approach to reduce the overall downtime.  OpenMigrate can be used for ongoing migrations and publish jobs.  If clients are interested, we could see writing a target or source for InfoArchive.
  • HPI & Active Wizard – We will continue to position HPI/Active Wizard as an alternative to the life sciences suite based on our compliance solution.  We see D2 as more of a “do everything” application and we are trying to position HPI/Active Wizard as a modern minimalist approach for just doing what you need to do.  Ellen and I didn’t attend many of the xCP sessions but we continue to see HPI do well in comparison for financial services/insurance clients as well as other applications.
  • OpenAnnotate – While it wasn’t mentioned at the show, Documentum has scheduled PDF Annotation Services for end of life.  In the past, clients have struggles with supporting PAS given Adobe requirements and a client server archtecture.  We have recently had a lot of traction on replacing PAS with OpenAnnotate as a browser-based alternative.  We will continue to add capabilities as requested by clients.  We have talked about plans for a redaction module soon.

Summary

Overall, we would say that Momentum was consistent with 2013 in that small steps forward for the product portfolio seemed to be the core of the message.  The new announcement was InfoArchive as well as an application architecture, APaaS that was hinted could be the core of Documentum 8.  However, there was no roadmap beyond Documentum 7.2.  We would rate both InfoArchive and the APaaS (based on EMC Pivotal) as good efforts by IIG to leverage their relationship and improve the synergy with EMC.  InfoArchive has become a product that could demand large amounts of EMC storage and it will be interesting to see the interest level among current Documentum users.  APaaS was more of an architectural concept and will require funding and effort by Documentum/IIG to bring to market.  We wouldn’t predict it would affect current Documentum users for quite some time given funding, effort and stabilization requirements.

For current customers, good takeaways included:

  • Webtop – continued to be supported with 6.8 coming in the fourth quarter.
  • Roadmaps for all products going out one year with small incremental improvements.
  • No messages about “this product will reach end of life and you have to move”.

We think this is a smart approach by Rick and IIG.  While it lacks the visibility of a company procurement like Syncplicity or xHive as in the past, it does lend a level of stability to the product that our clients appreciate.

Let us know your thoughts below.

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