Documentum 8 – Why and When, thoughts on the Documentum Roadmap

As readers might remember, in our recap of EMC World 2014 back in May, we thought one significant non-announcement was that there was no Documentum 8 on the roadmap.  In briefing our clients over the past 6 months, we thought we would share some of our thoughts on Documentum 8 and thoughts on the Documentum Roadmap.

Documentum – IIG – Benefits and Issues being EMC’s “Cash Cow”

The BCG Growth-Share Matrix was introduced in the early 1970’s and is depicted below.

BCG Matrix

Documentum clearly has a high market share but, as pointed out in our 2013 earnings post last year, has low growth rates.

Some of the Stars in the EMC family are easy to visualize as VMWare is clearly in the Stars section.  Newer divisions like Pivotal are in the Question Marks  section with high growth but a low market share requiring high investment.  One could argue that both IIG-Documentum and EMC’s Storage Division are more in the cash-cow section where, funds from these divisions are used to fuel the growth in the other divisions.

As seen from this perspective, IIG-Documentum must:

  • Remain profitable as, without supplying income, it would be placed in the Dogs section
  • Reduce expenses to gain income growth despite stagnant revenues

Don’t get us wrong, we actually see some benefits for users by having IIG-Documentum in the Cash Cow space as, when it was a rising star:

  • New investment efforts would result in loss of focus (WebPublisher, eRoom, CenterStage…) that would fade over time but divert attention from the core ECM repository enhancements.
  • Engineering tended to look for the “next big thing” resulting in a failure to keep the current clients happy with their existing tools.

On the down side, being a Cash Cow has resulted in:

  • A scramble for revenue – Wanting to stay profitable with a declining client base has resulted in more focus on consulting revenue than on software improvements. The increased consulting focus has decimated the Documentum partner program providing less choice for clients.
  • Slow innovation in the product set – As we mentioned in our EMC World Momentum recap for 2012 and 2013, significant announcements are few and mostly are mostly cobbling together of existing products into consulting solutions.

Documentum 8 – Why – Engineering

In discussions with clients, engineers and users, some of the reasons for a Documentum 8 release could include:

  • Modern Code Base – While it is not often said, from a core repository standpoint, much of the underlying code base for Documentum is still C code circa the 1990’s client/server environment from the initial Howard Shao and John Netwon era complete with Remote Procedure Calls, DQL and other older components that are not required in new internet based environments. In rebuilding Alfresco, Newton and team chose an all-Java approach, something that Documentum has never been able to do as we discussed with the original DFS fail.  Moving to a new code base would involve moving away from the DFC (new DFS runs on the DFC) and the Documentum API.
  • Cloud, Node, Distributed , NoSQL Databases – technology is moving quickly with a variety of tools for making an ECM platform more “cloud ready” along with development easier.  In modernizing the code base, engineers would love to leverage the latest and greatest tools.
  • Better Support – since many (if not all) of the original engineers have left Documentum, sometimes support for underlying issues is difficult. While the code base is stable and rarely requires support, typical customers will complain that the depth of knowledge of the repository can sometimes be lacking.

Documentum 8 – Why – Users Perspective

While the updates would above would be great for engineers, from a user perspective:

  • Faster Repository – Changes to the repository would undoubtedly make the repository faster and better performing for users.
  • Cloud based repository – Capabilities for cloud, including distributed storage/backup, security, hybrid cloud, extranet as well as other functions that are difficult with the current repository could be enhanced.
  • Stability, Completeness of function and Upgrade – with any major new release (5.3, 6.0….), users are always concerned with loss of stability and issues with an upgrade. As mentioned at EMC World, only 25% of the current user base is on Documentum 7, which was released over a year ago.  Would users upgrade to a rewritten release and risk stability for their current users?

From a user’s perspective, most of our clients are relieved when we mention that there is no Documentum 8 on the roadmap.  With driving down IT costs and “Good Enough” being a focus, users want stability with gradual improvements, not a rewrite.

Documentum 8 – Why – Sales Perspective

As mentioned above, Documentum is driven by a sales culture looking for items to sell to their clients.  While a cloud based, modern Documentum 8 might be great to sell to new clients and win technical evaluations, it would not result in new sales to existing clients that are already paying maintenance for Documentum.

Sales would like the new tool to approach the new clients but also something different to sell to existing clients.  As discussed at EMC World – InfoArchive  is an example of a quick engineering build using existing components that can be sold to clients without competing with current Documentum 8 maintenance agreements.

Documentum 8 – When – Summary

Tying all the points above together:

  • Cash Cow – Given a focus on profits, Documentum does not have funds available for a rewrite and would have to make new products (with new sales) rather than have a new product that is part of existing maintenance agreements.
  • Engineers – Would love to build a Documentum 8 with newer tools.
  • Users – just want stability and reduced costs associated with upgrades
  • Sales – wants a new product to sell to new and existing clients

Given the above, we have been advising clients to look for InfoArchive and APaaS to gradually add Documentum-like functions but under a new architecture and as a new product and new product sale.  Documentum 7 will remain supported for a very long time (nothing beyond 7.2 is in the roadmap).  This is consistent with the approach of D2 and xCP being new tools while Webtop is supported for the foreseeable future.  We would expect any Documentum 8 release to be a long way off, or, like Documentum 7.1, be more of a point release than a major rewrite release.  Look for other tools like InfoArchive and APaaS to add Documentum like functions but not be seen as a replacment.

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