Documentum – Top Tips for 2016

To begin 2016, we’d like to do a post surrounding our thoughts on what Documentum clients should planning for in the upcoming year.  See previous posts in 2012 and 2010.  This year’s post will review our earlier tips and highlight our thoughts for 2016.

Previous Tip Review

In looking back on the 2010 and 2012 posts, we got some things right, while others have not always proved out.  Some quick thoughts:

2010 Tips

  • Cache those Consumers – still a top Tip – see Tip 1
  • Keep it Simple – still very relevant
  • Consider Extranet – say this was half right – most of our clients are still internally using Documentum
  • Embrace Open Source to Augment Documentum – Linux, Lucene/Solr, iText and others have had a huge impact
  • Look at Sharepoint – remember this was 2010 – in our 2012 post we predicted SharePoint would fade and it has
  • Phase Down WDK Development – probably missed this as CenterStage was replaced somewhat by D2 but Webtop is still a prominent player
  • Off Shore Documentum Consulting: Big Mistake or Bad Idea – offshoring with Documentum continues to be both
  • Wait for DFS – again, there were grand plans for CenterStage at the time, but it was replaced with D2
  • Time to Ditch WebPublisher – very much proved to be true
  • Consider the Cloud – 5 years later, there are still not many Documentum customers in the cloud – see 2016 Tip 5 as still very relevant
  • Upgrade to 6.5 (most were on 5.3 at the time) – 5.3 customers that did were well positioned

2012 Tips

  • Mobile – probably missed it here.  Mobile is involved but is not as important for Documentum customers as anticipated
  • Cloud for Collaboration, Internal Systems for Records Management – still very true
  • Be prepared for SharePoint….but it will fade for Documentum clients in 2012 – and it did
  • Consumer versus Author – Consistent with Tip 1 below, consumers should be treated differently than author/approvers
  • Embrace Open Source to Augment Documentum  – still true today.  The majority of our clients are Linux with additional components from TSG, iText and many other sources
  • Begin Phasing Down WDK – we probably missed on this one.  Despite “not investing in Webtop”, Webtop is still a critical component in many Documentum environments

Here are some of our thoughts for 2016:

Tip 1 – Caching content for ECM Consumers

It was true in 2010 and is still true today.  Most of our innovative customers realize that consumers, those users that will only be accessing the repository for viewing and printing of documents, shouldn’t be consuming the expensive full-featured resources of the Documentum infrastructure.  Lots of posts from previous years as we have been doing this type of solution for clients since 2005 and included it as a top tip back in 2010.  Whether leveraging OpenMigrate with a Solr/Lucene repository or Hadoop, publishing or caching content for Documentum consumers provides for substantial benefits including:

  • Fault Tolerance – If the ECM repository requires maintenance or becomes unavailable, cached content can still be accessed.
  • Consolidation – Multiple ECM repositories can publish to one cache to provide a single search across repositories.
  • Upgrading or migrating repositories becomes easier as content is still available during the migration.
  • Reduced license cost and user maintenance due to less users in the ECM system.

Tip 2 – Try Ephesoft to replace Captiva or Kofax

2015 was the year TSG became an Ephesoft partner.  We had seen and talked with the Ephesoft team at many of the Alfresco events but most of our clients that leverage Captiva or Kofax were happy to continue with their current and rapidly aging solutions.  Multiple clients leveraged Ephesoft this year, and we have seen that a vendor focused only on capture and not an ECM suite provides many advantages regarding capabilities and cost.  This was the case with Captiva and Kofax back when they were starting out.  It is time for our customers to take a fresh look at their capture solution and look at alternatives that leverage open source as well as the flexibility of template-less capture with a modern approach.  See related posts.

Tip 3 – Completely Browser Based PDF Annotation

Clients that desire PDF Annotation from the repository have historically had to choose options that involved some type of client side component that worked with the browser to provide the annotation capabilities.   Many of our clients have found this type of approach difficult to maintain with different browsers, browser versions as well as the desire to not have to maintain a consistent PC configuration.  We have seen rapid adoption of our own OpenAnnotate that provides annotation capabilities without any client install by leveraging JavaScript within the browser.  In the last three months we have had rapaid growth in the OpenAnnoate user base as an alternative to legacy solutions such as the end of life Documentum PDF Annotation Services  and CSC’s AnnoDoc.  Other products, including Snowbound and Brava!, also offer browser based-solutions, although they are just starting to get to a pure-browser experience.  The older, more robust versions rely on undesirable Java Applets or ActiveX controls.  Both Brava! and Snowbound also require complex server components that complicate deployment and application maintenance.

Tip 4 – Hadoop as an ECM disruptor

As with any technology, eventually a disruptor comes along that could disrupt the status quo with an new paradigm that offers something better for clients.  Early in 2015 we predicted Hadoop could be a disruptor of legacy ECM solutions similar to how Alfresco and open source disrupted back in 2005.  Hadoop’s investment from a big-data solution side provides benefits while disrupting underlying EMC components including the database as well as the SAN.  In 2015, we had multiple clients leverage Hadoop as part of their ECM infrastructure in innovative ways.  We would expect the innovation with clients as well as the Hadoop community to continue to grow in the ECM space in 2016.

Tip 5 – Private Cloud and Amazon Web Services

While clients struggle with legacy ECM environments, they also struggle with legacy ECM support.  Many of the ECM architects from our clients that were responsible for building the legacy ECM solutions currently in production have moved on to other companies or positions leaving clients with difficult, inflexible and expensive infrastructure support.  Innovative clients are looking to leverage “as needed” consulting solutions as well as cloud infrastructures to provide a more responsive and cost-effective support structure.

Tip 6 – Consider Interface Alternatives rather than Vendor Interfaces

In addition for OpenAnnotate as mentioned above, many of our clients have looked for independent interfaces including HPIActive Wizard and Cara instead of vendor supplied “do all” interfaces.  From Documentum this includes Webtop, D2 and xCP.  Vendor neutral solutions provide substantial benefits in regards to functionality, support and innovation.

Tip 7 – Look outside the Documentum “Suite”

In 2015, TSG had considerable success with a variety of third party components that are not from the ECM Suite vendors, but rather innovative third party solutions.  Ephesoft has already been mentioned above but other examples of new items this year for TSG included:

Tip 8 – Proactive Documentum/Alfresco Health Check

Just like a typical New Year starts out with a new workout or diet resolution, why not make the resolution to proactively give your ECM system a health check?  As we have been posting here over the years, too often ECM system’s owners can get caught in a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset.  Scheduling a Documentum health check (just like an annual physical) is a great way to start the new year.  For most of our clients, a health check can be a low-cost alternative to an “all hands on deck” business interruption.

Tip 9 – Chrome or Firefox rather than upgrade IE6, IE8, or IE9

Too often we get requests from our clients to have system interfaces run in unsupported Internet Explorer versions.  Typically this is due to other non-ECM applications that require the old version and “don’t run on IE11”.  Innovative clients have chosen to adopt a “ECM runs in this new browser” instead to avoid performance problems and support issues.  Also, as it relates to Internet Explorer support and security patches, as of January 12th 2016, Microsoft will only support “the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system”.  The most current version of IE on Windows 7 is 11.

Tip 10 – Delay upgrading ECM until you can upgrade the entire stack

This is a different tip but something our clients, specifically Documentum clients, have done very successfully.  Rather than focus on always staying on the current supported versions, many of our clients have run old versions and delayed or postponed upgrades and successfully reduced business interruption, upgrade risk and cost.  Given the reduced price of hardware components and specifically cloud components, we typically recommend the “clean install” of the new system with all new components and a migration were possible rather than the upgrade in place.

Tip 11 – Consider Alternatives to Documentum, OpenText and FileNet ECM

As our last tip, we would recommend all legacy ECM customers (including Documentum) look to alternatives rather than the typical upgrade path.  Look for more posts this year but for multiple clients we have begun migration efforts around moving from legacy and expensive ECM systems to open source alternatives and specifically Alfresco.  See an interesting post from a long-time Documentum community member who, like many of us, is contemplating the future of Documentum specifically given the Dell purchase of EMC.  Regardless of your thoughts on the future of Documentum, OpenText or IBM/FileNet, the community of developers and internal IT support for the products is fading leaving clients with less flexibility and more risk.  Like the old home furnace you can’t get parts for any longer, sometimes it is better to replace rather than risk a failure.

Let us know your thoughts below: