Documentum and Alfresco – Electronic Forms and Workflow User Requirements

We met with a client this week that is evaluating the Active Wizard for an electronic forms infrastructure to replace many paper, Word and PDF forms within the organization.  The Active Wizard is TSG’s most popular Open Source offering (currently on version 4.0).  This post will present the “high priority” requirements along with our thoughts and capabilities of the Active Wizard.

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Documentum Client Briefing – Final Agenda – June 7th – University of Chicago Gleacher Center in Chicago

TSG will be holding our 5th annual client briefing on June 7th, at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center from 9 to 5.  Agenda will include EMC World Recap, State of Enterprise Content Management discussion lead by Doculabs, Client Survery Presentation and Benchmarking, Mobile Product Demonstrations and case studies along with TSG Product Roadmaps.  If you are interested in attending, contact us at  Full Agenda to follow. Continue reading

Documentum – Using OpenOverlay to Provide Functionality Not Available in PDF Stamping Services

As readers who use EMC’s Documentum Compliance Manager (DCM) product will know, with the 6.5 release there was an architecture switch in the way dynamic overlays were applied to documents with the introduction of PDF Stamping Services (PSS). Prior to version 6.5, PDF Aqua was integrated into the product and customers used it to design and configure the overlays they needed to appear for documents as they moved through different stages of their lifecycle.  These overlays could range from simple watermarks containing the current document status (e.g., DRAFT, APPROVED), to more advanced overlays including property and other related data of the document in dynamic headers.

In transitioning to PSS, many customers found that while it did provide many of the same capabilities as PDF Aqua there could still be certain scenarios where what was possible in a PDF Aqua overlay was not easy to duplicate in PSS. This post will describe one such situation and how leveraging OpenOverlay allowed the client to maintain their legacy overlay functionality with minimal system changes.

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OpenOverlay – OpenSource Alternative for Adding Watermarks and Overlays in Documentum, Alfresco, and others

OpenOverlay has been a core TSG offering since 2007 and while not as visible as some of our other products it is used at many clients and enables key features such as electronic signatures, controlled printing, watermarking, overlay form responses, and letterhead and logo application.  Many clients that use it for real-time dynamic property display of document status, version, print date, author, or any other attribute information. OpenOverlay may be deployed on as part of an ECM system or a separate PDF presentation viewer. TSG has deployed it on Alfresco, Documentum, and portal systems. For Documentum users, OpenOverlay typically replaces the need for PDF Aqua or PDF Stamping Services.

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Alfresco Consulting – Documentum Disruptor #2

We posted an article last week on how Alfresco and SharePoint were Disrupting Documentum.  The term disruptor is from the Innovators Dilemma business book and it relates to how difficult it is for one company to continue technology innovation over time and newcomers disrupt the industry.  In a phone discussion with one of the responders, we discussed how consulting resources (like ourselves) are assisting in that cycle. This post will discuss how TSG and others Alfresco consulting firms are accelerating the disruption of established ECM tools like FileNet or Documentum.

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Documentum Business Continuity – A Cached Content Approach

One of the more successful applications we see long-term Documentum customers implement successfully is a business continuity solution based on caching approved content to a separate “read-only” repositories.  This post will discuss the reasons for business continuity solutions and integration options for Documentum as well as business continuity war-stories from selective clients.

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Alfresco and Change Management

One of the first ECM applications TSG ever developed for a client 15 years ago this month was the “Smart CR” where CR stood for change request.  When it comes to Change Management, we (TSG) have experienced a variety of approaches and best practices.  For this post, we will detail those best practices and how to develop a “best practices” Change Management approach with Alfresco.  Continue reading

Documentum, Document Control and Alfresco

I was talking to a Life Sciences client that was looking to move away from Documentum for Document Control and they were asking the logical question “Why haven’t more companies moved to Alfresco and Open Source?”  For this post, I will try to address some of the reasons as well as present some background on how best practices for Document Control with Alfresco.  From an informal discussion with my peers here at TSG, some of the main reasons include: Continue reading

Third Annual TSG Client Briefing – June 3rd – 2010

TSG will be holding our third annual client briefing on June 3, at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center from 9 to 4:30.  The briefing focuses on TSG facilitation of specific ECM topics with a focus on interaction between clients for experience, lessons learned and best practices.  Last year’s briefing included:

  • Introductions – sharing “What I would like to learn today”
  • EMC World 2009 Recap
  • Upgrading to Documentum 6
  • ECM Interface Design
  • Lunch (Wolfgang Puck Catered) and networking
  • Sharepoint and ECM
  • Form and Workflow Best Practices
  • Web Content Management

Overall, many Documentum clients who skipped EMC World in 2009 thought the briefing and user interaction gave them very valuable information and benchmarking regarding their ECM implementation. 

This year’s attendees will be polled in May to determine specific topics to finalize this year’s agenda.  Based on initial client feedback, topics could include:

  • Scanning and Imaging
  • EMC World 2010 Recap
  • Real-world ECM Cloud experience
  • Transaction Processing Approaches
  • Lucene and Full-Text Approaches
  • Sharepoint for Document Control Applications
  • Migration from Documentum to Alfresco or Sharepoint

After the briefing, some of the attendees will be participating in a charity tasting event that benefits United Cerebral Palsy  of Chicago

While the briefing is mostly limited to TSG clients, we do invite additional non-clients that we feel can add to the discussion.  If you are interested in attending the briefing, please contact us.

Documentum Upgrade – Understanding all the Pieces

As mentioned in previous posts, many clients are struggling with the upgrade to Documentum 6.5.  Typically, the upgrade of the Documentum components are only one piece of what can be a difficult puzzle.  Upgrading servers, operating systems, databases, and document manipulation services all add a level of complexity and coordination.  This post will highlight typical components/functions and TSG’s thoughts and recommendations.  Thanks to the clients (you know who you are) that contributed so much of the content to this post.

Database/Docbase/Operating System

Most clients determine to upgrade all other server components during the upgrade.  Some general guidelines:

  • Consult the Product Information System on Powerlink.
  • Don’t look to the absolute latest version of your database (Oracle, SQL Server) as Documentum support is typically added later.
  • Avoid the “small boat” or limited user base.  Examples include AIX and HP-UX Operating System, and Sybase or DB2 Databases.  Our clients have struggled with support or other issues that are unique to these platforms.  When in doubt, we recommend Linux, Sun Solaris, or Windows for server operating system, Oracle or SQL Server for Database and Tomcat or potentially WebLogic for the application server.   Some results from a quick production environment poll Documentum conducted for 460 customers who had acquired D6 or D6.5
    • 54% use Oracle, 32% SQL Server, 14%, Other (DB2 or Sybase)
    • 50% use Tomcat, 23% Weblogic, 14% Websphere, 13% Other (Oracle or Sun)

Server Hardware

In the old days, the cost of the servers (we saw a lot of Sun) was a huge component of the infrastructure.  With clients moving to Linux/Windows more and more, it is easier and less costly to upgrade the server hardware.  As mentioned in a previous post, upgrading to new servers simplifies the upgrade process as it provides more flexibility in regards to fall-back and timing.  From a cost perspective, we have been recommending Linux both for internal as well as cloud options.  One caveat in regards to Linux and HP-UX Itanium, make sure the content server supports eSignature manifestation if that is one of your requirements.  As of this post, Documentum, leveraging PDF Fusion, does not support eSignatures on these platforms.  We are working with a client to substitute OpenOverlay for their environment.

High Availability

Closely tied to server architecture is high availability.  Many clients are looking at clustering given the price of new servers/OS (particularly in the Linux world), as well as just better practices, particularly virtual machines.  Clustering, Load Balancing, Oracle RAC and other options should be thought through during the upgrade process.   Work with your infrastructure teams to build HA into your architecture as you build the new system.

Webtop 6.5

Moving from Webtop 5.2.5 or 5.3 to Webtop 6.5 typically has the most impact of the architecture components.  Issues with the Webtop upgrade include:

  • Upgrading Customizations – depending on level of customization, this can be a major undertaking.
  • Upgrading Add-on components – as mentioned later in this post, 3rd party Webtop components such as annotation tools, PDF Overlay and other WDK add-ons will mostly likely need to be upgraded to support the target Webtop version.

We typically recommend clients move to the latest Service Pack 1 version or above (ex:  Webtop 6.5 SP1, SP2 or beyond) as the initial releases can be tricky as we learned with 5.3.


For many clients, this can be a complicated decision.  Factors include:

  1. Existing Annotations – if the migration/upgrade requires access to existing annotations, the new system will have to be able to read them.  Some annotation tools store the annotation format in their own proprietary format and can’t be read by other tools.
  2. Documentum PDF Annotation Services – as part of the upgrade, many clients would like to move to annotation services from Documentum.
  3. Other Tools – Clients disappointed with current tools can look at PDF Annotation  services or a variety of other tools (Snowbound, Brava) however be sure to check Webtop version support as not all annotation tools support the latest version of Webtop and service packs.
  4. Cost – Tools aren’t cheap and typically require a license per user.
  5. Support – Many tools require a client side add-on which can be difficult to deploy and maintain across a diverse client base (and potentially different browsers).

We have worked with clients to upgrade annotation tools as well as release a free viewer/annotation tool with OpenAnnotate (coming soon) to give clients additional flexibility.

Lastly, TSG recommends looking at how annotations are used.  Many times the requirements don’t call for annotations but more general rejection comments.  We typically do not recommend that clients leverage annotation tools for an editorial (grammar and wording) review.  A better approach is to use Word “Track Changes” within a review cycle that doesn’t require annotations but more of a check-in/check-out of the Word document.

PDF Overlays

In a controlled document system, metadata from Documentum (document number, release date, document title…) must appear correctly on the header/footer of released documents.  Clients that have committed to PDFaqua are going to face the conversion to PDF Stamping Services in Webtop 6.5 due to our understanding (as of the date of this post) that PDFaqua will not be supported in Webtop 6.5.

Similar to annotations, TSG does offer a free overlay tool, OpenOverlay, that has been very successful in replacing PDFaqua leveraging iText.

Full-Text Search

While Full-Text search comes free with Documentum, clients need to remember that server (potentially new servers) infrastructure is required with FAST or the upcoming Documentum Search Services.    We typically recommend proof of concept activities to determine how to manage the index server when it comes to typical index maintenance (index rebuild) as it will affect the upgrade process.

WDK or DFC Applications

As we pointed out in a previous post, WDK applications will need to be migrated/rewritten depending on the level of customization and complexity.  Applications written on the DFC have proven to be easily upgradable.  Be sure to verify how many external systems are pulling or pushing content from your content server.  Are they using DFC to communicate?

Check your Licenses

As most users are aware, Documentum’s price list is pretty large and can be somewhat confusing.  Software licensed under an old model (user, named user, CPU) is not currently supported by Documentum and can leave you vunerable to an software audit. Use an upgrade as a chance to review your license structure and usage.  If you move to virtual/cluster/etc, does your licensing allow for this type of support?

Browser and Java Support

Double check the release notes in regards to client, browser and Java support.  For most of our clients, Documentum has supported the major browsers and recent Java versions.  One issue some clients have in regards to external users (extranet) is that the client browser doesn’t always meet Documentum specifications.  We’ve had some clients’ plan their 6.5 upgrade but forget to upgrade their JRE to 1.5 or 1.6, causing problems.


Users should check on their Document and XML rendering engines – are they yet 6.5 certified? (Our understanding is Liquent is far behind and was recently purchased (again).  Documentum products (ADTS, DTS) are probably not so much an issue.

Eclipse – Don’t leave the developers out

Documentum 6.x uses Eclipse as the foundation for development (rather than DAB).  If you’re not an Eclipse shop, or if you’re not already standardized on it, look to get everyone standardized and trained now, and look into Eclipse plug-ins for your common development tools (source code tools, analyzers, etc).

Performance Analysis

One of the new features with Webtop 6.5 is the ability to leverage web performance analysis tools.   Look into if your architecture group has standards for those tools, and look to leverage them into your implementation plan to performance/load test your new 6.x environment.